Parents and teachers of pupils at Ridge Community Primary School were told by the Department of Education yesterday that plans to turn the school into an Academy, a change that was due on 1 May this year, have been abandoned, despite extensive preparation. The following statement appears on the school website: http://www.ridge.lancs.sch.uk
"The Department for Education has announced that it will not press ahead with plans to force Ridge Community Primary School to become an academy.
Previous plans would have seen the school become an academy on the 1st of May this year.
However, the Department for Education has now contacted the school and Lancashire County Council to say that Ridge Community Primary School will remain a community school.
Responding to the decision, Chair of Governors, The Rev. Phil Hudd said, "This is good news for the school and we can now put the uncertainty caused by this process behind us. We have always argued that we did not need to become an academy and the fact that our results have continued to improve throughout this period of instability bears that out. We would like to thank everyone for their support and look forward to continuing to provide the best possible education for our children.
"So, for the time being everything carries on as normal! As and when other information becomes available we will let you know, and if you have any questions you can come and chat to (head teacher) Mrs Fitt.
"Many thanks to you all for your on-going support!"
County Coun. Sam Riches (Green) told Virtual-Lancaster:
"The news on 27 March that the Department for Education has abandoned plans to force Ridge Community Primary School in Lancaster to convert to academy status is quite astounding. 'Eleventh hour' doesn't begin to describe how late in the process this about face has happened - the conversion was due to take place on 1 April 2013, recently postponed to 1 May.
"The reason given seems to be that the sponsor, Academies Enterprise Trust, is felt to have insufficient capacity to cope with an additional school so far from its base in Essex - this surely could have been established months ago.
"The fact that there has been a substantial improvement in recent SATs results - from 2010/11 to 2011/12 the percentage of pupils achieving level 4 or above in English and Maths rose from 29% to 81% - is probably another factor in the U-turn. If nothing else, this improvement shows how unsound the 'snapshot' approach to measuring attainment really is.
"As the local County Councillor I welcome this unprecedented decision, but I really regret that the school was ever put under pressure to convert. The staff, governors and parents have all been through a very stressful experience, and I sincerely hope that this will lead to a rethink of the whole issue of forcing "underperforming" schools to convert to academies."