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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 March, 2005, 07:34 GMT
Residents canvassed on new school
Withywood School sign
The Venturers have committed funds to the project
Residents in south Bristol are being asked for their views on a new 25m independent Academy school.

The Society of Merchant Venturers is proposing to run Withywood Community School, which has produced the city's worst GCSE results in the past.

The organisation has already committed 2m to the construction of a new school and new facilities.

Under the plans, the Merchant Venturers would give guidance on the "ethos and development" of the new school.

Withywood has faced challenges for some years and Academies are designed to help schools in this situation
Heather Tomlinson
Director of education

The academy would provide 910 places for pupils aged between 11 and 16, and 250 sixth-form places, specialising in "Enterprise and Skills".

Dennis Burn, the master of the Merchant Venturers, told the BBC the organisation was invited to get involved with the project, along with co-sponsors, the University of Bristol: "We want to turn around education in Withywood.

"The Merchant Venturers have been in Bristol for hundreds of years and our whole history is in trying to help the city, originally for commercial purposes.

"But we are involved in education, care of the elderly and youth projects in the city.

Second Academy

"In 1595, we first got involved in free schooling for the children of mariners, and we went into other schooling thereafter," he added.

The Venturers are already involved in the running of Colston Collegiate School.

Bristol opened its first Academy in September 2003; the City Academy, which replaced St George's Community College.

Heather Tomlinson, director of education at the city council, said: "We are working in partnership with the sponsors.

"Governors will still be responsible for the school - and the community and LEA will be represented on that body.

"Withywood has faced challenges for some years and Academies are designed to help schools in this situation."

Academies are joint ventures between the government, which provides the main funding, and sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups which take a stake in return for providing some capital.

25m Academy announced for city
16 Jun 04 |  Bristol/Somerset
New schools for Bristol
29 Sep 04 |  Bristol/Somerset

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