Hitchin and Baldock schools in academy trust talks

PUBLISHED: 06:58 09 December 2019

Tim Litchfield and Frances Manning, headteachers of The Knights Templar School and Hitchin Girls' School. Picture: Archant

Tim Litchfield and Frances Manning, headteachers of The Knights Templar School and Hitchin Girls' School. Picture: Archant

Archant

Two schools in Hitchin and Baldock have agreed on a proposal to form a multi-academy trust.

Hitchin Girls' School and The Knights Templar School in Baldock are consulting with parents and staff ahead of plans to form a multi-academy trust in April next year - which would see the schools working in partnership under the same ownership.

Hitchin Girls' School headteacher, Frances Manning, said in a letter to parents last month: "We have always wanted to provide the best possible education for current and future pupils.

"We believe that this proposal to form a MAT with The Knights Templar School will provide us with increased opportunities to continue this aim."

In a letter, the chair of governor's confirmed that "the school has been considering the formation of a MAT for some while", but said there had not "been a school which presented itself as a natural partner, and a good fit", until now.

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Both Hitchin Girls' School and Knights Templar School became academies in 2011 - which means they are not managed by the local authority and are funded directly from the government.

Under a multi-academy trust, both schools would retain their name, uniform, premises, and have control over their own budget.

Knights Templar headteacher Tim Litchfield said: "An MAT is likely to be the best course of action for the future of our school. We are aware of moves by some of the very large academy trusts to acquire schools in Hertfordshire.

"KTS and HGS are both keen to preserve their identities without being absorbed into a large academy chain."

The proposal has been criticised by some parents and campaigners over concerns that an MAT will lead to the violation of each school's independence.

Kay Tart, parliamentary Labour candidate for Hitchin and Harpenden, and leader of Action for Education, said: "There are other schools locally considering their options at the moment. I am against academisation. Moving any school further away from the Local Authority has consequences and a joint multi-academy trust is a step further away."

The consultation period with parents ends on Tuesday, December 10, and the governing bodies of each school will meet next term to make a final decision.

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