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Press conference - New academy proposals

Date: 16/05/2008           Category: Learning and Achievement

A press conference will be held to discuss the proposals detailed in yesterday's embargoed press release (included below). Details: Meeting Room 301 Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham Monday 19 May 10am Please confirm your attendance via email to chris.steel@medway.gov.uk, or by calling 01634 332870 ***************************************************************************************************************** Press release - embargoed until 00:01hrs 19/05/2008 Parents to be consulted over new school plans for 2010 A bright future is promised for Medway’s youngsters, through proposals for a state of the art new academy in Chatham. Parents will be consulted regarding the development on the site of Medway Community College, which would be joined with Chatham South School as an academy. If agreed, the plan would be to open the new academy in September 2010 across both school sites, and to consolidate on a single site when the new building is ready in 2012 or 2013. Academies are funded directly by the government and are normally independent of the local authority. However, Medway Council is keen to be fully involved in the new development and proposes to become a co-sponsor of the new school. The lead sponsor is the Church of England, and the other co-sponsor will be Canterbury Christchurch University. The partners, working together, will be able to draw on the best of Chatham South and Medway Community College, and offer a full range of traditional subjects as well as vocational and sporting options at the Church of England school. For its part, the government will meet the capital costs of a new building, as well as funding to ensure a smooth transition from the current arrangements to the new school. Chatham South is a highly successful local school, judged by OfSTED inspectors as ‘good’. It is popular with parents and is always over-subscribed. Pupils make good progress: half of them achieve five good GCSEs and about a third secure five good GCSEs including English and mathematics. Medway Community College faces a number of challenges. Its latest inspection decided that the school required special measures and levels of pupils’ achievement are below what would be expected. The two schools have been working closely together for the last few months to support improvement at Medway Community College. Vincent O’Mara, head of Chatham South School, said, ‘The school has been growing in success over a number of years. In 2007 we were one of the highest performing high schools in Medway and achieved our best ever results: our performance is of high quality in all areas – academic success, music, art drama and sport. But we are not complacent and we continue to improve. We are very excited about being able to offer our successful brand of education in a newly built, state of the art academy. Our values of equal opportunities, inclusion and care for the individual as well as high academic achievement will be crucial to the success of the new school. Current students and their families should not be afraid of the changes proposed because we will all remain focused on their progress and welfare, as well as planning for the exciting new academy.’ Andrea Ferris, head of Medway Community College, said, “I offer my full support and belief in the academy as a wonderful opportunity for the young people of Chatham. Having worked with the Church of England on a new school elsewhere in the country, I know that they can successfully deliver such a project. “The academy will have state of the art facilities for pupils and the local community and will foster a new feeling of hope in the area as well as creating a real ‘feel good’ factor locally. “I believe there is the potential here to create an absolutely first class, innovative educational environment, with clear paths to further and higher education.” Les Wicks, Medway Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services, said, ‘The scheme is a win-win situation for pupils and the community, who will benefit from a brand new school with vastly-enhanced facilities. “This proposal reflects the council's policy to promote the very best facilities and life chances for all our pupils both at secondary and primary level.’