DARWEN VALE HIGH SCHOOL academy decision

Outcome of consultation over Academy conversion

Dear Parents/Carers and pupils,

I have received formal notification today from Lord Nash at the Department for Education of its intention for
Darwen Vale High School to convert to academy status with the Aldridge Foundation appointed as sponsor. I genuinely believe that we should now concentrate all our energy and commitment into moving forward for the benefit of the pupils at Darwen Vale.

This information has been shared with all staff at the school and I have also taken time today to speak with the pupils via a series of assemblies. The Aldridge Foundation and I are determined that they should play a full part in working with us during this period of transition. Whilst I will, of course, continue to support my staff fully, I want to make it clear that decisions going forward will be based on what is best for our pupils.

I am pleased that, in response to issues raised during the consultation period, the Aldridge Foundation has made the following public commitments and assurances to the parents, pupils and teachers:

• We respect the need for Darwen Vale High School to maintain its own distinct identity, building on its tradition and heritage. We are therefore making the commitment now that the current name and school uniform will not change unless the school, governing body and parents support such a change.
• We are happy to reaffirm our full support for the school’s current Headteacher Fiona Jack. We look forward to working in partnership with her and the school’s leadership team to help them deliver their plans to continue to improve the school and to help shape their ambitious vision for the future.
• We are committed to supporting the strengthening of the school’s engineering specialism, with a new, entrepreneurial focus on the community, links with employers, and on employability generally.
• We will support the school in exploring the development of new post-16 provision, particularly in relation to the engineering specialism, in order to provide high calibre, modern, exciting provision for young people which is not available elsewhere.
• We will work with Mrs Jack and her leadership team to explore and help provide new areas of curriculum and educational innovation that she and her team consider will meet the talents and aspirations of young people in the area. Our discussions to date have identified, for example, that the school’s expertise and interest in dance may offer the opportunity to develop a Dance Academy within the school.
• We promise that new decisions about the future of the school will only be taken with the support of the Headteacher and her governing body.
• We can confirm that the governing body will continue to have strong local, parent and staff representation. All governing body meetings will continue to take place at the school.
• Darwen Vale High School will continue to run as a state-funded, not-for-profit, non-selective community school, focused on the needs of the local people and the community.
• We will continue to recognise representative bodies for staff, and to preserve School Teachers Pay and Conditions.

I know that many of you expressed how important it is that we retain our identity as Darwen Vale High School so I am delighted that we will retain our name and specialism around engineering. This change in status does not change my ambition for the school and we will continue our drive to provide the best education for our young people. I look forward to being in a position where I can offer clarity around some of the unhelpful rumours that have been circulating so as the process for conversion commences I will continue to share information with you.

Can I once again thank you all for your on-going support and commitment to Darwen Vale High School.

Please use the links below to view the letter from Lord Nash and the academy consultation report

DarwenValeHighSchool_ConsultationReport_May2014

Letter from Lord Nash

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Fiona Jack
Headteacher