Criticism of academies 'one-sided' says principal

THE head of a North-East academy has criticised the "one-sided" comments by the Academies Commission on selection methods used by this new type of school.

Pat Howarth, principal of Hummersknott Academy, in Darlington, was responding to concerns expressed by the independent Academies Commission that the rising number of schools opting for academy status could widen social segregation rather than reduce it.

The commission's report said some academies were holding social events with prospective parents to sound out whether their children would be an asset or a liability - despite regulations which are meant to rule out selection of pupils.

Mr Howarth said: "These comments are rather one-sided and do not celebrate the huge achievements that have been made by Academy schools across the length and breadth of the UK.

"For us it has never been about changing admission arrangements but bringing out the best in all of our students, and making schools better for everyone, not just the high achievers who may succeed wherever they are.

"Our school is inclusive and we pride ourselves on our broad cross-section of students who are able to all have the ability to fulfil their full potentials.

Academy status in July 2012 had helped the school target funding more effectively to areas that needed it most, he added.

The extra resources from being an academy had been used to employe extraa staff, reduce class sizes and bring in one-to-one tuition for students.

Funding has also been used for staff training, new IT equipment and to refurbish the dining room.

New figures released by the Department for Education confirmed that Darlington - where all seven of its state-funded schools are now academies - has the highest proportion of secondary schools which have converted to academies.

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