News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Monday, 15 February 2010

St Ursula's to Become an Academy?

The governing body of St Ursula's School in Westbury on Trym has decided to begin the process of applying to become an academy - a state funded independent.

The news was announced this evening at a packed public meeting at Westbury Methodist Church Hall organised by Parents' Voice - a new pressure group petitioning for a new secondary school for north west Bristol.

The announcement was made by prospective Parliamentary candidate Charlotte Leslie, who has recently been appointed chair of the governors at St Ursula's and was described by Labour candidate Sam Townsend, who was also spoke at the meeting, as a "political coup."

LibDem candidate Paul Harrod, the third Parliamentary candidate to address the meeting, had previously told the 200+ parents present that his favoured option for parents seeking a new school was that one of the local independents should be persuaded to apply to become an academy and that "St Ursula's is the obvious one that might want to consider" such a move.

Charlotte Leslie's carefully chosen statement was that, "I can announce today that St Ursula's will be taking steps to apply for academy status."

The question-and-answer session that followed the speeches revealed that the path for the Roman Catholic independent school to become an academy is far from smooth and that "taking steps to apply" is a long way from a done deal.

Particular issues that will need resolving before St Ursula's could become an academy include:
  • does the city council agree that such a move would be desirable?
  • what would happen to St Ursula's Junior School?
  • who would be the sponsor to such a school?
  • would such an academy remain a faith school? What would this mean for local parents who do not want their children to attend a faith-based school?

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