News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Locked Out of Redland Green? Keep Your Eye on Portway - Seriously

With the new proposed changes to the Redland Green School catchment area (here) Westbury on Trym parents have been left with a limited range of options for their children's secondary education.

Until now.

Plans are apparently at an advanced stage for Portway School to become an academy - a state- funded non-fee paying school independent of the local authority.

The proposed academy - which has to be agreed by Bristol City Council - will be run by Oasis Community Learning founded by Baptist minister and TV presenter Steve Chalke (MBE).

Oasis already has seven academies in its portfolio, and reports improvements in academic outcomes and behavior accompanied by increasing numbers of applications for places at them. Oasis is also due to re-open the Hengrove Community Arts College in South Bristol as an academy in September 2008. Westbury parents will therefore have a year to asses the work of an Oasis school before deciding whether to take the plunge and apply. The proposed takeover is scheduled for September 2009 if agreed by all parties.

In recent years Portway School has had low achievements in GCSEs and a high staff turnover - only 16% of students gained five or more A-C grades at GCSE last academic year and the school has had seven head teachers over the last 5 years.

The Oasis Trust is founded on Christian principles but does not use church attendance as a basis for applications. Chalke claims that "There will be people who won't send their kids to Portway. They are late adopters, not early adopters. In three years' time they will wish they had done." The Oasis Community Learning ethos and values can be seen on their web site here.

If successful, Portway will become one of five possible academies in Bristol - others being in St George, Hengrove and with proposals underway for Colston's Girls' School and Cathedral School to become academies over the next two years.

Some of the main questions people ask about academies are answered here and details of the new Redland Green catchment area can be found here.

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