THOUSANDS of children will be brought together in plans to forge an alliance between 10 Tynedale schools under a mammoth multi-academy trust.
Talks between heads and governors are at a very advanced stage, with details of the academy link-up about to be released to parents.
The proposed multi-acamedy trust (MAT) comprises Prudhoe High School; Highfield, Ovingham and Corbridge middle schools; and Ovingham, Mickley, Wylam, Prudhoe Castle, Whittonstall and Broomley first schools.
The schools, which will come together to form the Tynedale Community Learning Trust, insist academy status will preserve the future of the schools.
In a joint statement this week, heads and governors of the schools said: “Our aims are clear: to stay in control of our own destiny and preserve the unique identity of our individual schools; to ensure all learners in our trust make better than expected progress given their starting points; and to raise aspirations of all and prepare our learners to be successful in a modern world.”
School leaders met on Wednesday to finalise the plans, which will now go to parents, staff, community groups and trade unions as part of a consultation process.
In pulling together the proposed MAT, the schools have enlisted the services of Avec Partnership, which specialises in academy conversions.
If it goes ahead, the Tynedale Community Learning Trust will form one of the largest academy trusts in the region.
And the 10 schools would join many across the district which have already chosen to convert to academy status, further diluting the control the local authority has over the education system in Tynedale.
Schools are increasingly looking to academisation to secure their future, amid fears that middle schools may be phased out with the introduction of a two-tier system and a looming funding crisis which may put the existence of small rural first schools at risk.
In January, Prudhoe West First School announced that a partnership between the school and WISE Academies had been agreed. The school will join Prudhoe’s Adderlane Academy, which opted to join the WISE multi-academy trust in November last year.
Last August Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School became a MAT, under the auspices of the Hadrian Learning Trust. And more recently Hexham’s two Catholic schools united as a federation.