Thomas Hardye School has officially become an academy.

The comprehensive school in Dorchester gained academy status this week.

Tony Day, clerk to the governors at the Thomas Hardye School, said: “With effect from Monday the Secretary of State has conferred academy status on the Thomas Hardye School.

“In terms of its name, its organisational structure, its curriculum and its conditions of service for its staff, there will be no change.”

Parents received a letter from the school in July last year informing them that the governors had applied to the Department for Education for academy status.

In a letter received this summer, parents were advised that the school had received the go-ahead and it was expected to become an academy on August 1.

A Department for Education spokesman also confirmed the Dorchester school had achieved academy status.

She said: “We are delighted that so many schools have decided to take us up on our offer to become academies.

“There is clear evidence to support that schools are better able to support their pupils when they have a greater degree of autonomy, since it is teachers who best know the needs of their school and its individual pupils.

“The evidence of the past decade in our own country, as well as from the jurisdictions around the world with the best-performing education systems, shows that the fastest improvement takes place where schools have the most freedom.”

Norman Munnery, whose 15-year-old son attends the Dorchester school, previously told the Echo he was unhappy about the change because there was ‘no consultation’ on the decision.

He said: “There’s meant to be full and proper consultation with parents, students and staff and there has been nothing.

“If the governors really wanted parents to understand a matter such as this, they would have called an open meeting at which interested parties would be free to put their opinions and explain the full implications of creating an academy.”

Mr Munnery, 67, added: “I am very much opposed to the privatisation of education, and this is precisely what is being done very secretively and by the back door.

“This is a very controversial decision that will impact education in Dorset for the foreseeable future.”

However, President of the Old Hardyean Michel Hooper-Immins said he had faith in the governors’ decision.

He said: “Thomas Hardye School has a wonderful reputation and I am sure the governors considered this very carefully. With the new headteacher coming in September, it can only be an opportune time.”