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Grange Primary School in Harrow explores academy conversion
A primary school is bidding to be the first state-controlled school in the borough to convert to an academy to give itself more freedom over its curriculum.
Grange Primary School, in Welbeck Road, South Harrow, has registered its interest with the Department for Education, who are currently assessing the school’s query.
Councillor Husain Akhtar, who was elected chairman of the school’s governors on Thursday, said that the school, which assumed its new name with the infant and junior schools merged in September last year, wanted more autonomy.
Krishna Avanti Primary School, which was previously voluntary-aided, became Harrow’s first primary academy last month – a move which gives schools more freedom on what subjects that specialise in and more control over their budget, which comes directly from Government instead of from Harrow Council.
Cllr Akhtar, who spent 13 years as an Ofsted inspector before retiring in 2007, said: “Becoming an academy would mean the school can provide a wider and well-balanced curriculum.
“We would like to have a curriculum which makes the most of the ability and interests of the children that we have – subjects like social skills and more languages.
The school’s 246 pupils between three and 11 have been through a lot of change in the last few years, with the conversion from middle to junior school, then amalgamation with the infant school and appointment of headteacher Neil Carpenter.
But Cllr Akhtar said the experience of going through the changes had prompted the bid for academy status.
He added: “Going through the series of changes and amalgamation has showed us some of the benefits of change – it’s a great way of improving the education we provide.”
“Being a retired Ofsted inspector, I can see that the school has progressed well since its amalgamation and has an ethos of success which the school community shares.
“A school like Grange could really benefit from becoming an academy and decide what is best for its pupils, parents and the local community, free from red tape and politicians.”
The school would have to formally vote on whether to proceed with the plan, consult with parents and staff and submit an application before any change can go ahead.
Converting to an academy would mean Grange would be part of the Government's free school programme – although free schools are set up as academies they are new schools set up by groups of parents, teachers or faith groups.