Mark Hall School in Harlow defers decision to become an academy

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 May 2011 | UPDATED: 09:24 31 May 2011

Mark Hall school

Mark Hall school

Archant

Mark Hall School in Harlow will not be going down the route towards converting to an academy - yet.

An academy is a publicly-funded independent school, free from local authority and national government control.

Governors at Mark Hall School, which is part of the Harlow Education Trust, have decided to defer their decision on whether to convert to an academy or not for a year, in a move praised by the local branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

General Secretary of the Harlow and Epping Forest NUT, Murray Sackwild, has applauded the school for “resisting the pressure to convert to academy status”, although has noted “with much regret” that other schools will continue down the academy route.

The union raised concerns earlier this year after it was announced that three Harlow schools – Burnt Mill, Stewards School and Mark Hall – would be investigating the possibility of converting to academies, claiming that teachers in the town have already voiced their opposition to the plans.

Mr Sackwild claimed the move had been made out of “fear” and expressed concern that academy schools would no longer be accountable to the public and that the cost of buying in services would rise.

He said that teachers in Harlow schools are opposed to academies but “unfortunately, too few parents made their opposition heard during consultation to dissuade governors from this irreversible path”.

The two other schools, Burnt Mill and Stewards, have now announced that they will take the next steps in their moves towards the new status, following Harlow’s Passmores School, which is already in the final stage of this process.

The Harlow Education Trust, which is made up of the four schools, aims to reinforce the idea of their working in collaboration. A spokesman said: “All schools remain fully committed to working together for the best interests of the young people of Harlow.”

Headteacher of Burnt Mill, Helena Mills, declined to comment, and the headteachers at Mark Hall and Stewards were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Mr Sackwild added: “The NUT is committed to working with all schools in the area, no matter what their status, in securing the best education for students and the best working conditions for Harlow’s excellent teachers.”

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