Concerns over one of Calderale’s biggest schools becoming a sponsored academy were voiced at a public meeting.
Parents met to discuss the proposals involving Calder High School at a debate organised by Friends of Calder High held at Hebden Bride Town Hall.
A decision is expected to be made by the Department for Education (DfE) in five weeks time when the Mytholmroyd school is next visited by Ofsted inspectors.
If inspectors find that exam results have not improved since the summer then the school will become a sponsored academy.
Calderdale Council cabinet member for schools Ashley Evans (Lib Dem, Warley) said: “My personal view is one of cynicism in relation to academies, but having said that we have no authority in stopping the DfE turning Calder High School into an academy. What I can say in the case of Calder High is we’re working very hard to oppose the DfE in forcing the school to become an academy, but it’s very hard.”
The school on Burnley Road was given a “notice to improve” after an inspection in February 2012 due mainly to the standards of student behaviour. The academy plan was mooted on the back of disappointing GCSE results in September and the school was deemed “vulnerable” by Ofsted.
But Calder High School parent governor Peter Buckley accused the DfE of “moving the goalposts” and looking for faults in the school to force it to become an academy.
“There’s no one on the governing body that wants Calder High to become an academy,” he said. “We want to do what’s best for the children.”
If the school does become a sponsored academy then it will be linked up with another organisation. Coun Evans said the chances of this organisation being local were “very remote”.
This linked organisation would effectively run the school instead of the local authority, with funding coming directly from central government. Mr Buckley said if this happened the current board of governors would likely be scrapped.
Although the general feeling was negative towards the academy plans, one parent did question how else it would get funding for much-needed building improvements.
“Are there any other ways we can have a massive renewal of the school without becoming an academy?” she said.