Is Knaresborough school going to become an academy?

Exploring possibility of becoming an academy - King James's School in Knaresborough.
Exploring possibility of becoming an academy - King James's School in Knaresborough.

King James's School in Knaresborough is exploring the option of becoming an academy.

Headteacher Carl Sugden told this newspaper it was not a step to be taken lightly but the benefits for the school and its students, who hail from the Knaresborough area and parts of Harrogate, could be substantial.
He said: "This is not just about preserving our independence in a landscape where over 70% of secondary schools are now academies or part of academy chains. We can see some real advantages in changing our status."
The moves towards King James's becoming an independent, state-funded school receiving funding directly from central government, rather than through a local authority, is still in its early stages.
But the school's head said direct consultation with parents would take place when plans were less fluid according to correct procedure.
King James's is already in the middle of an interim communication process with is own staff but any firm decision on the exact nature of the school's future seems unlikely to take place until next year at some point.
Having celebrated this popular school's 400th anniversary last year, Carl Sugden said the change would happen in a way which fitted King James's core values, maintained close ties to the local authority and brought improvements for its student base.
He said: "This is a community school and, in our view, the governance and leadership of the school should remain firmly rooted in our locality.
"We believe that we have a successful model of local leadership which has provided great education in Knaresborough for generations of families.
"In order to preserve our independence and to ensure that the school leadership and governance remains local we feel that it is imperative that we consider converting to becoming a multi-academy trust."
Although no formal resolution to become an academy has been passed by the school's governors, talks are now going on about the possibility of King James's becoming a Multi Academy Trust.
King James's is looking to the precedents set by previous local schools such as Harrogate Grammar School and St Aidan's High School who have also made the switch to academy status in recent years.
By necessity, a multi-academy trust or MAT would involve King James's working with one or more other schools to maintain its governance and educational standards.
But the schools' head the aim was precisely to retain King James's individual character and ethos rather than see it swallowed up in a large chain.
Carl Sugden said: "The current education landscape has seen a diminishing of local authority oversight, including some services, and a growth of academy chains.
"We do not wish to be part of a larger chain which does not have its roots in our community.
"We would prefer to lead rather than follow and to work with existing partners; a model which has brought us continued success and allowed us to respond to the educational needs within our own community."
The timeline for consultation over King James's possible transformation to MAT status is still very fluid due to the complexity of talks.
But Carl Sugden said the school was keen to present the case for MAT at the right time and for full and proper consultation to take place with the community at the appropriate time.