Published: 01/06/2008 00:00 - Updated: 20/02/2009 01:41

Harpur Trust set to take over John Bunyan

Plans to privatise two schools are set to receive the stamp of approval this week.

Bedfordshire County Council's decisionmaking executive will meet on Thursday to give its support to proposed academies at John Bunyan Upper School and Dunstable's Northfields upper.

As exclusively reported by Bedfordshire on Sunday in January, the Harpur Trust, in conjunction with Bedford College, is set to become sponsors of John Bunyan Upper School.

A report before the council states: 'Performance at both schools has been a matter of concern for some time.

'Northfields is currently in special measures and while recent visits from Ofsted have noted improvements within the school, there are concerns about how secure and long-lasting that improvement may be."

'Both schools have benefitted from a large amount of council support over recent years.

'However, in neither case has this resulted in the improvements which might be expected and both schools remain vulnerable.'

Introduced by Tony Blair in 2000, academies are state-run independent schools set up with the help of outside sponsors.

A would-be academy school has to raise £2million from private organisations including businesses.

The private organisation then runs the school instead of the LEA, although the school must still comply with the national curriculum and educational standards.

Rita Drinkwater, Bedfordshire County Council cabinet member for education, said: "Performance at John Bunyan and Northfields Upper schools has been a concern for some time. Both schools have benefited from a large amount of support over recent years from the county council but in neither case has this resulted in the improvements which might be expected, and both schools remain vulnerable.

"Following discussions with the schools, as well as the DSCF and potential sponsors, the council supports proposals for the schools to become academies. If the proposals are carried forward, the schools would benefit from new buildings and additional revenue from the sponsors, generating more opportunities for improvement."
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