Page last updated at 19:20 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

City college leads academy bid

Earlham High School
The school was recently visited by Olympic veteran Dame Kelly Holmes

A school in Norwich which came in the bottom 200 in national league tables, could become a new 20m academy.

The school tables released in January 2008 showed 6% of students at Earlham High School achieved five or more GCSEs above C grade.

Now City College Norwich, a college of further education, is leading a new bid to operate the school as an Academy.

The scheme, backed by ministers, the County Council and the private Norwich School, is going out to consultation.

'Tremendous change'

The principal of City College, Dick Palmer, welcomed the plan.

"The parents in Earlham will see a huge change, a tremendous change. We want to engage young people in Earlham and inspire them," he said.

"Just because they come from a disadvantaged background doesn't mean they haven't got a future, they absolutely do."

The school could become an academy as early as the start of the 2009 academic year.

Work on the new 20m government-funded school building would begin in the following year.

One of the partners of the bid for a second academy in Norwich is the privately-run Norwich School.

'Grave concerns'

Earlham High's head teacher David Brunton said: "The Norwich School would be sharing in good practice in raising the aspirations of our students by holding master classes."

But the plan has been criticised by the National Union of Teacher (NUT) in the county.

The Norfolk NUT county secretary Mike Smith said the union had "grave concerns about academies".

"It's taking the control of the schools away from the local authority which means it's taking control away from the democratically elected representatives of the local people," he said.

He added: "If the sponsor is either the local authority itself or another educational institution that's fine but if that were the case then why take them out of the present system? Why not leave them there?"

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