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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Governors Back School Trust Bid

Governors at Ponteland High School have decided to push ahead with a bid for trust status.

They decided at a meeting on Monday to formalise proposals to become a foundation school, supported by a charitable trust, after three months of consultation.

A 76-name petition against the proposal was received from the Campaign Against Trust Status, with school staff concerned about pay and conditions.

However, only two written objections were received from the public.

Chairman of Governors Mike Brown said: "We took a very close look at the petition and were surprised at the gulf that existed between some of the concerns raised and the reality of the situation.

"For instance, the county council has passed a resolution safeguarding support staff conditions, including pensions, and all teachers' contracts are protected by national agreements.

"Governors are certain that we can reassure staff that they will continue to have the same pay and conditions security at Ponteland High under trust status as they would if things stayed as they are, and we look forward to working with them to remove their fears."

Official proposals will be published on November 2, with further consultation up to November 30, before the governors meet again to make a final decision.

National Union of Teachers Divisional Secretary Vin Wynne said:"Obviously we are disappointed with this decision as we have concerns that the school will have an arms length relationship with the local authority.

"Local residents and those from the broader school community said during the first consultation that they wanted more information and we would be happy to hold a public meeting to set out our point of view.

If there are many objections to the formal consultation from these people, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator may intervene and make the final decision."

Head teacher Stephen Prandle said: "I am delighted with the Governors' decision, as I am convinced becoming a foundation school will strengthen the position of the school and allow more opportunities to engage the local community and stakeholders in shaping our future."