Red tape wrangle resolved over academy change

LEGAL red tape issues which prevented a Somerset school from switching to an academy have finally been resolved after months of delays.

The original plan in September last year was for The Kings of Wessex School in Cheddar to break free from local authority control by opting to become a new-style academy.

However the Station Road school, among with other Church of England schools, were hampered by legal issues related to the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and had to delay the change.

After eight months of negotiations the school can finally apply for its status which will provide a range of benefits, including extra finances.

A school spokesman said: “Following lengthy delays, agreement has now been reached between The Kings of Wessex School and the Church of England on the legal documents for the conversion to academy status.

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“All documents have now been submitted to the Department for Education for approval.

“We anticipate that the school will convert to academy status this summer term.”

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A statement released by Peter Lythgoe, chairman of governors, in March stated that the school was facing a budget shortfall of �367,826 for the financial year 2011-12, and a cut in funding of �247,148.

He said delays in the school converting to academy status prevented the school from accessing additional funding.

In response to the deficit, the governing body has taken several measures to reduce costs including cuts to the non-staffing budget and reducing staffing expenditure.

To achieve the savings, the school would need to save the full-time equivalent of 7.2 teachers and three support staff.

MP Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, wrote to the school a year ago inviting it to become an academy – and the governing body voted unanimously in favour of it moving to academy status.

Once the plans come into effect, the school will be run by an academy trust, made up of the existing governing body, and parents, members of the community, staff and the Church of England will continue to be represented.

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