Schools bid to build their own

Walton High School in Fyfield Barrow, Walnut Tree
Walton High School in Fyfield Barrow, Walnut Tree

AN ‘outstanding’ city school is urging other schools to beat local authority budget cuts and join its own co-operative style education trust.

Walton High has set up Milton Keynes Education Trust, which plans to ‘bid’ for at least three new schools planned for the eastern flank over the next three years.

Employed as a full time business director for the Trust is leading Conservative councillor David Hopkins,

Mr Hopkins is deputy council leader and Cabinet member with responsibility for economic development and enterprise.

But he would have to declare an interest at all council meetings where Trust or Walton High matters were discussed, said the school’s head Michelle Currie.

She is also executive principle of the Trust, which was set up after the Government introduced its competitive bidding for the running of schools.

This means the provision of new schools is no longer the responsibility of the local authority, and schools and other organisations can apply to build and run their own facilities.

Ms Currie said: “The education landscape is changing. We are seeing local authority budgets heavily cut and our councils no longer able to fund school support services.

“So it makes sense that the schools join forces to provide the very best for our children and young people.”

The Trust is non-profit making and money could be saved by ‘economies of scale’ sharing services and specialist facilities and streamlining administration, said Ms Currie.

Already Walton High, awarded the highest possible marks in two consecutive Ofsted reports, is working closely with New Chapter primary school in Coffee Hall.

The Trust has also expressed an interest in building Brooklands primary, Brooklands secondary and Oakgrove primary between 2014 and 2016.

But critics say this could lead to ‘school wars’ with other schools in the patch, who may also be putting in their own bids on their own turf.

Ms Currie said: “There is no school wars. Our aim is to work together.”