Mixed reaction to academy proposal

A PRIMARY school is considering turning into an academy – but one parent is setting up a campaign group against the idea.

Birstall Community Primary School has begun a consultation with parents on the change.

But Garry Kitchin, whose son Joseph is in year one, said the school would be worse off if it split from Kirklees Council control.

He said: “When a school becomes an academy they are subject to less scrutiny by the elected representatives of the local community.”

Academies are directly funded by central government, rather than local authorities, and have greater control over their curriculum and budgets.

Mr Kitchin, of Oakhill Road, said the school could be worse off outside the local authority.

He said: “Schools are offered a lump sum to become academies, but I’m worried it’s a short term buy-off.

“Schools outside the local authority have less purchasing power.”

A consultation evening has been arranged by the school on October 17.

Mr Kitchin, who stood as the Green Party candidate for the Batley and Birkenshaw ward in this year’s local elections, said: “There needs to be an open discussion on both sides.

“Parents must be aware of the pros and cons of going ahead with this.

“Academies can forced through despite opposition from parents but if the majority don’t want it, then I want an assurance from the school that they won’t go ahead.”

Headteacher Kyrstie Joslin said: “We are only consulting at this stage, no decision has been made yet.

“All the feedback we have received so far has been positive and we are only considering this because the governors feel it will help improve outcomes for the children.”

Peter O’Neill, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “If the governing body chooses to go ahead with the proposals then it is fully within its rights to do so.

“We are mainly concerned with keeping local schools working to serve the local community.”

Anyone wishing to join Mr Kitchin’s campaign can email him on no2birstallcommunityprimaryacademy@gmx.co.uk.