Darwen Vale High School and the Aldridge Foundation confirmed on December 3rd 2014 that the process for the conversion of the school to become an academy has been completed.
In June the Department for Education announced that the conversion would proceed. The Aldridge Foundation has been working with the school and with Blackburn with Darwen Council to complete arrangements for the transfer of staff and of contracts relating to the school since then.
The school’s headteacher, Mrs. Fiona Jack, has written to parents to confirm the news. She said: “I am delighted that we have certainty over our future. We can now wholeheartedly move forward and increase our focus on improving the achievements of our pupils and finding new opportunities for all at Darwen Vale, backed by the extra support that the Aldridge Foundation and its national network of schools can give us.”
“Recently a number of our pupils and staff enjoyed the opportunity to take part in the Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week event at Bristol University with over a hundred students from other Aldridge academies, so we already feel very welcome as part of the Aldridge family. On a day to day basis most pupils may not notice immediate changes as an academy, but we are developing our plans with the Foundation to become a world class school. We have already started exploring the possibility of developing a Dance Academy, and considering how we can strengthen our engineering specialism. Now we can start making these things a reality.”
“In the New Year, we are planning to hold events to explore the vision for Darwen Vale going forward which will involve staff, pupils and parents. We are also finalising membership of our new governing body and I expect to be encouraging parents to step forward to become parent governors very soon.”
Honor Wilson-Fletcher, chief executive of the Aldridge Foundation, said: ‘We are proud and delighted to be the sponsors of the school. We wish to reiterate our commitment to Darwen Vale’s loyal community of parents – and most of all to current and future students – that we will do everything we can to support the academy to constantly improve, to ensure that you have a successful and enjoyable time here, and that when you leave, you will do so well prepared for adult life, having exceeded your own expectations and feeling excited about the challenges ahead of you.”
“Throughout the discussions about academy conversion we gave a number the pledges to students, parents, staff and the community which we absolutely stand by and will deliver on. These include:
- The current name and school uniform will not change unless the school, governing body and parents support such a change.
- We are happy to reaffirm our full support for the school’s Headteacher Fiona Jack who becomes the Principal of the academy.
- We are supporting the school’s engineering specialism, with a new, entrepreneurial focus on the community, links with employers, and on employability generally.
- We will work with Mrs Jack and her leadership team to explore and help provide new areas of curriculum. For example, to help the development of a Dance Academy we are setting up an exclusive Summer School for DVHS students with the Lowry Theatre in Salford.
- We can confirm that the governing body will continue to have strong local, parent and staff representation.”
Already appointed as governors are Bob Simpson, who amongst his many contributions to the area chaired BwD’s Governors Panel for five years, founded Blackburn and Darwen Shopmobility, and is a former Chair of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, and Dean Grice, an ex-pupil of Darwen Vale High School. Dean has worked with Blackburn Rovers FC as academy coach, lives in Blackburn and works for the Football League Trust as their Regional Community Manager National Lead on Sports Participation.
The school has also confirmed that it will be continuing to support existing community bookings at DVHS, working closely with the Local Authority to explore how they are developed in the longer term to ensure that the academy provides a high quality community resource for Blackburn with Darwen.
Harry Catherall, chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “It’s very reassuring and I’m pleased that there is a firm commitment to continue and grow the important community use provision at Darwen Vale High School.”
“The Local Authority is committed to working with all schools in Blackburn with Darwen to ensure that young people get the best possible education.”