THE GOVERNMENT will not intervene in the process converting Budmouth College in Weymouth into an Academy, despite letters from Dorset Council to the Department for Education.

Budmouth College is due to join Aspirations Academies Trust in September and this has prompted protests from sections of the local community and some parents.

In July, Cllr Andrew Parry wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, asking the government to delay the academisation process at Budmouth College.

The letter was sent after a motion was put to full council and agreed by councillors. Mr Williamson replied to say: "Schools judged by Ofsted as requiring Special Measures are required by law to join a multi-academy trust (MAT).

"We will not delay this process any further as our priority is to get the school into a strong MAT to rapidly improve standards.

Cllr Andrew Parry now believes that the time has come for the council and local community to move forward and work with the college.

He said: "We asked the government to delay this academisation, as we were reflecting the concerns of parents, pupils, councillors and the local community about the process.

"I know many people will be disappointed by the response, but we must now move forward and work with Budmouth College, Aspirations and the Regional Schools Commissioner to make the necessary changes and, most importantly, safeguard the standards for our young people.

"I know I’m not alone when I say we want pupils at Budmouth to receive the best possible education, so our priority must now be supporting Aspirations and the school to make this happen.”

Cllr Clare Sutton, who's two children both attended Budmouth, said she was "hugely disappointed" by the response.

“I have received more correspondence about this issue than any other in my time as a councillor, and the vast majority of staff, parents and students who have contacted me felt the school had improved markedly in recent months and were strongly opposed to the Aspirations takeover.

"Many were concerned about the Trust’s ethos, track record on falling rolls and exclusions and financial position and, as a Budmouth parent, I shared their concerns.

"I am therefore hugely disappointed that the Secretary of State has declined to revoke the academisation order or address any of these issues properly.

"However, I know that Andrew Parry, Cabinet Member for Education, and Executive Director Sarah Parker are deeply committed to ensuring Budmouth goes forward not backward and will work closely with headteacher David Herbert and the Trust to ensure that is the case.

"There is currently no secondary school in Weymouth or Portland rated ‘good’, let alone ‘outstanding’. In light of the social mobility issues we face in this part of Dorset, turning this around must be an absolute priority.” 

Headteacher David Herbert wants to look forward to the next chapter at Budmouth and improve on the progress he has already made in turning the school around.

He said: "Our students deserve the highest standard of education possible and the team of staff here are looking forward to building on some very encouraging results at GCSE and A Level this summer.

"I am sure that receiving support from ‘Aspirations’, who are a highly successful academy trust, is going to be of great benefit to us. However, Budmouth is still a Dorset school and I am looking forward to working with colleagues at other Dorset schools and with Dorset Council, but it is time to move forward now.

"I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank our Interim Executive Board who have performed an admirable job since they came into operation last summer.

"Under the committed leadership of the chairman Kate Shaw, they have been a real support to the college leadership team over the last year and have helped steer the college through some testing times. I am very grateful to all work they have done to help put Budmouth in a much better place."

Steve Kenning, Managing Director of Aspirations, said: "We are delighted to be working with the young people of Portland, Weymouth and Bovington on helping them to prepare for success in this ever- changing world. Budmouth College has a very exciting future as an Aspirations Academy."