West Sussex’s first academies open in Southwater

HOR 010711 Francis Maude opening conversion of Southwater Junior and Infant schools to academies. Pictured with headteachers Simon Wood and Sue Winn. photo by derek martin

HOR 010711 Francis Maude opening conversion of Southwater Junior and Infant schools to academies. Pictured with headteachers Simon Wood and Sue Winn. photo by derek martin

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SOUTHWATER Infant and Junior Schools celebrated becoming the first two primary academies in West Sussex on Friday July 1.

The move has been called a ‘significant milestone for the future of primary education in the county’.

The change has made them state-funded independent schools that can purchase resources and services from a variety of providers.

Francis Maude, MP for Horsham, cut the ribbon and joined children, parents and staff for celebrations.

He said: “I am delighted to be invited to The Southwater Infant and Southwater Junior Academies conversion celebrations.

“Academy status will allow the school the ability to focus funds where they are needed and this development is an exciting new start, not just for the new academies, but for the children and community they serve.”

Both village schools were considered to be in a prime position for conversion after receiving an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report.

Governing bodies then commenced a period of consultation and review, which was completed only weeks ago.

Doug Smith, a director at Southwater Infant Academy, along with Tony Mason, a director at the Junior Academy, said: “We are very proud of the fact that we are the first schools to convert in West Sussex.

“We have spent many hours reviewing the benefits that we gain as an academy and in the end the decision was easy.”

Both academies will be funded directly by the Department for Education, through the Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA).

They have already identified significant savings with certain services and consider that there will be many more to come in the future.

The head teachers, Sue Winn and Simon Wood, said in a joint statement: “We are delighted to have been granted Academy status, this has been achieved following a long period of consultation and review by both governing bodies.

“The opportunities and freedoms we will now be offered can only be of benefit to the children. We are very much looking forward to maintaining and enhancing the provision of education for the children of the new academies.”

Maureen Hazell, a director of Southwater Infant Academy, said: “Friday was a great day of celebration and we all felt incredibly proud as we became the first Academies in West Sussex.

“The children sang and we all cheered as we marked the event with Francis Maude cutting our Academy ribbon.

“We had balloons and cake and banners - everything you would expect to see at a party! Francis spoke to the children and described our schools as ‘brilliant’. She added: “Expect to see other schools follow.”

What do you think of the move? Email ct.letters@sussexnewspapers.co.uk