Pledge to help turn a failing school around

Coun John Jones (below) said the decision to turn Highfield Humanities College into an academy was out of his hands
Coun John Jones (below) said the decision to turn Highfield Humanities College into an academy was out of his hands

Education chiefs today vowed to do everything in their power to support pupils at a failing Blackpool school that is set to become an academy.

Highfield Humanities College, in South Shore, is being taken over after being placed into special measures following a damning Ofsted report.

Coun John Jones

Coun John Jones

Coun John Jones, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for school improvement, said he had tried to address the issues raised after last year’s inspection, adding: “We did all we can.”

Despite being told the school had made “reasonable progress”, the Regional Schools Commissioner, whose power comes directly from central Government, ruled Highfield would have to become an academy.

Coun Jones said the decision left the council “very little leeway”.

He added: “It is the school commissioner and the government that make that decision.

Ofsted still expect us to inspect schools and work with schools. I am really going to work hard with the academies in the town

“It is not about what I feel – it is about making sure the children in the town get the best chances possible.

“I have said I don’t think academies make the best schools but I took over this role at the end of May and I want to make sure I make a difference to the children in this town.”

He said governors were presented with a list of possible sponsors for the school based “in and out of town”.

He added: “It is obviously their decision and as a council we back that decision.”

Questions were raised yesterday over the choice of Tauheedul Education Trust (TET), which runs a number of Muslim faith schools, to sponsor Highfield.

A spokesman for the Trust, which has received “outstanding” ratings in all its Ofsted inspections to date, said: “While TET does indeed run a number of faith based schools, it also delivers leadership programmes across a wide breadth of schools in the North West, on behalf of the National College for Teaching and Learning.

“TET’s mission is to create outstanding organisations that develop learners who excel in academic achievement and personal development, and contribute positively to their local communities, irrespective of faith, income or background.”

Academy status means the school will no longer be under local authority control. All seven Blackpool secondary schools are now academies.

Coun Jones added: “Ofsted still expect us to inspect schools and work with schools. I am really going to work hard with the academies in the town.”

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