PLANS for two Hartlepool primary schools to convert to academies have moved a step closer after winning government approval.
Owton Manor Primary School, in Eskdale Road, and Stranton Primary School, in Southburn Terrace, are hoping to become academies by July 1.
The plans have won backing from the Department for Education and will go-ahead this summer pending the outcome of an ongoing consultation with parents and staff. Academy status means schools have more independence and would receive its budget direct from the Government, unlike primary schools which are funded through the local authority.
The move would also give the school freedom to set their own pay and conditions for staff, how they deliver the National Curriculum and change the length of terms and school days.
Neil Nottingham, is executive headteacher at both schools, and he said while it would mean the schools are independent from the council, they would still maintain links.
Mr Nottingham said: “This is a really exciting opportunity. Stranton Primary School has been working alongside Owton Manor Primary School since last September and this is a great opportunity to formalise the arrangements.
“We have to do what is right for the children and we know what they need.
“We have Department for Education approval for the go-ahead pending the consultation.”
Mr Nottingham, who said he believes the schools will be the first in town to convert, added: “Converting to academy status gives us more freedom over the curriculum, working hours, conditions and it basically gives us greater flexibility. That is the main thing, the flexibility to do what is right for our children.”
Liz Killeen, former deputy headteacher at Stranton Primary School, has been acting headteacher at Owton Manor Primary School since last September. Stranton Primary School is rated outstanding by Ofsted, while Owton Manor has recently gone from satisfactory to good under the new stricter inspection framework.
If they are converted the schools would become academies under the banner of The Stranton Trust.