Prime minister Gordon Brown praises Outwood Grange leadership

THE Prime Minister made a shining example of Outwood Grange Technology College this week.

Gordon Brown praised the high standards of the Potovens Lane school during a speech to school leaders on education reform in London.

In March the school won government approval to become the country's first Academy of Excellence.

Last year, a whopping 96 per cent of its pupils achieved five or more GCSE or equivalent grades A* to C, and 67 per cent achieved five or more top grades including English and maths.

The move to academy status would help it support more under-performing schools like ones it is already helping in Doncaster and Harrogate.

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Mr Brown said: "Outstanding headteachers are showing what can be achieved by extending their sphere of leadership.

"The Ark chain of schools is raising standards across London, and Outwood Grange led by Mike Wilkins – in federation with North Doncaster Technology College and Harrogate High – is demonstrating what can happen when a high-performing school federates with schools in need of support.

"We must make this the norm rather than the exception. So we will bring forward proposals in our White Paper for a radical expansion of the role of federations, chains and executive heads in our school system."

Last year, the school caused outrage among parents and unions when it joined forces with Horbury School, Wakefield City High School and other organisations, to form the city's first educational trust – the Aspire Trust – which it would legally have to leave if it becomes an academy on September 1 this year.

Sally Kincaid, local branch secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said emotions are still running high. She said: "Academies are fundamentally private schools funded by the public purse and there are fears that it could have a negative effect on other schools across the district."

A public meeting organised by those fighting the academy plans will be held at Wrenthorpe Methodist Hall on Monday, May 11, at 7.30pm.

Speakers include national secretary of the Anti Academies Alliance Alasdiar Smith, NASUWT national executive member Steve White and chair of the NUT Education committee Hazel Danson.