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Darwen Vale academy move confirmed
DARWEN Vale High School will become an academy under the Aldridge Foundation after the move was rubber-stamped by the Department for Education.
It follows months of controversy at plans to academise the school, which followed an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report last year.
Union bosses said there had been noticeable improvements, including in GCSE results, since the inspection and under the leadership of new headteacher Fiona Jack, but the DfE pressed on with the move anyway.
There was further opposition to the choice of sponsor with the DfE pushing for the Aldridge Foundation, which already runs the town’s other high schools.
Following the decision, bosses at the Aldridge Foundation said they would not change the name of the school, nor its uniform.
Honor Wilson-Fletcher, chief executive of the Aldridge Foundation, said: “We are making a commitment to the school and the name and uniform will remain the same, unless parents and governors say they want it changing.
“We have always said the whole point is the diversity of all the school we run that is important.
“This is not about politics, this is about the wellbeing of the families, children and staff.”
Darwen Vale headteacher Fiona Jack said: “We can get on with it now and just keep moving forward, as we have been doing.
“I am delighted the Aldridge Foundation have committed to people’s views by keeping the name and uniform.”
Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Kate Hollern said: “I am extremely disappointed that they failed to consult properly with parents.
“We will continue to work with parents and governors to make sure improvements are made.”
Blackburn with Darwen NUT leader Simon Jones said: “It is evident the consultation was a complete shambles.
“I think it is absolutely outrageous they are riding roughshod over the parents and community.”
NASUWT local rep Claire Ward, a teacher at the school, said: “It has been proven to be the sham we have always expected it to be.
“Their consultation showed that 88 per cent of people did not want it to become an Aldridge academy, yet they are choosing not to pay attention.
“I am utterly disgusted at the DfE’s lack of acknowledgement of the views of the people of Darwen.”
Darwen MP Jake Berry said: “I am very pleased that the Aldridge Foundation has provided cast iron guarantees that the name, ethos, independence and school teachers’ pay and conditions will be protected.”
Will Straw, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Rossendale and Darwen, said: “After a year of instability, now is the time for everyone in the community to get behind Fiona Jack and support her impressive efforts to improve performance at the school and give young people in Darwen the best possible education.”
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