Following the Department for Education’s announcement of its intention to require Darwen Vale High School to convert to academy status, as the appointed sponsor the Aldridge Foundation has given a public commitment to parents, students and teachers addressing issues raised during the DfE’s consultation on academisation.
A letter being sent directly from the school to all parents and carers shortly, and published on the school’s website, will assure them that:
- We respect the need for Darwen Vale High School to maintain its own distinct identity, building on its tradition and heritage. We are therefore making the commitment now that 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 current Headteacher Fiona Jack. We look forward to working in partnership with her and the school’s leadership team to help them deliver their plans to continue to improve the school and to help shape their ambitious vision for the future.
- We are committed to supporting the strengthening of the school’s engineering specialism, with a new, entrepreneurial focus on the community, links with employers, and on employability generally.
- We will support the school in exploring the development of new post-16 provision, particularly in relation to the engineering specialism, in order to provide high calibre, modern, exciting provision for young people which is not available elsewhere.
- We will work with Mrs Jack and her leadership team to explore and help provide new areas of curriculum and educational innovation that she and her team consider will meet the talents and aspirations of young people in the area. Our discussions to date have identified, for example, that the school’s expertise and interest in dance may offer the opportunity to develop a Dance Academy within the school.
- We promise that new decisions about the future of the school will only be taken with the support of the Headteacher and her governing body.
- We can confirm that the governing body will continue to have strong local, parent and staff representation. All governing body meetings will continue to take place at the school.
- Darwen Vale High School will continue to run as a state-funded, not-for-profit, non-selective community school, focused on the needs of the local people and the community.
- We will continue to recognise representative bodies for staff, and to preserve School Teachers Pay and Conditions.
Honor Wilson-Fletcher, chief executive of the Aldridge Foundation, said: “We will be working closely with Mrs Jack and her senior leadership team to get a full appreciation of every aspect of the performance and management of the school, something we could not do before being appointed as sponsor. This, together with what has been learned from the consultation process, will contribute to the plan for the school going forward. As this develops staff, students, parents and carers will be kept informed.”
“The success and security of students at Darwen Vale is everyone’s first and overwhelming priority. We look forward to supporting the school’s team to deliver an outstanding education for current and future students.”
Fiona Jack, Darwen Vale’s Headteacher said: “We have waited a long time to know our future and this has been a very challenging time for our School. The most important thing now is to move forward positively with our sponsor to continue the work to take Darwen Vale High School on its journey to become a world class school.”
“I recently interviewed a group of inspirational young people for the role of Head Girl and Head Boy. Every single one of them expressed their desire to work with me in our planning for the future. I know that lots of other pupils are just waiting to get involved. With their support and the full involvement of staff and the wider school community I believe we can look forward with confidence.”