PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH A CITY ACADEMY - BRENT

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1 PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH A CITY ACADEMY - BRENT Need for new school places It is proposed that Willesden High School be closed and immediately replaced by a City Academy. There are currently less than 600 pupils on roll at the school. The standard number at Willesden High School is currently 166 (6 form entry) in years 7 to 11, with capacity for 83 in the sixth form, giving a projected roll when full of 913 pupils. Brent secondary schools are largely full, with the exception of Willesden High School. Overall secondary provision is projected to be insufficient by 2002/2003. Fuller details of this projection are given on the appendix. A successful "Basic Need" bid for additional places in the north of the borough has been approved by the DfEE, and funding has be.en made available, nominally for more than 400 places. It is unlikely that this funding will cover the costs of more than 300 places, but this will help to ensure that supply more closely matches demand by 2002 and beyond. There is a net loss of Brent pupils to schools in neighbouring boroughs although, overall, demand for places in Brent schools is increasing as the reputation of many Brent secondary schools improves. It is likely that the transformation of Willesden High School will reduce the outflow of pupils to Camden, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Ful ham particularly (553, 541, 219 and 216 pupils respectively in 1999). This would in effect increase the overall demand for places in Brent. In addition, there are indications that demand in the north of Brent is inflated by demand from parents living in the South of the Borough who apply to these schools in preference to more local schools, particularly Willesden High school. Replacing Willesden High school with a successful City Academy is likely to reverse this trend and increase demand for places in the south of the Borough, making it possible for more pupils across Brent to choose and secure a place in a local school. It will also allow more balanced intakes to secondary schools across the Borough. Moreover, it is expected that the school's specialism will attract interest from across Brent and neighbouring Boroughs, further increasing the overall demand for places in Brent. This will be true both at age 11, and in recruiting to the sixth form, which is likely to attract applications from pupils in other schools who wish to take advantage of the sport specialism for their post-i6 studies. It is proposed, therefore, that the City Academy operates on a 7-form entry basis (196 pupils in each year) with capacity for 220 in the sixth form. This would give a total of 980 pupils in years 7 to 11, and an overall total of 1200 places. Premises 1

2 Willesden High School currently occupies a good-sized site adjacent to. Willesden Sports Centre. The school premises will require: substantial improvements to the quality and suitability of the premises so that they can provide the state of the art accommodation envisaged for. City Academies; some demolition of poor quality 1960s buildings that will be replaced by accommodation better matched to the more attractive original 1930s. buildings. expansion to accommodate the increased numbers of pupils, The Council has been successful in attracting capital resources for Willesden High School through New Deal for Schools (NDS). It is proposed that the allocation under NDS4 is included within the overall capital sums available for the creation of the City Academy, to ensure that refurbishment is cost effective and that improvements are sustainable. In its efforts to improve Willesden High school, Brent Council had been seeking ways of developing the school alongside the sports centre, so that the two could be more mutually supportive to the benefit of the school pupils and local community, making best use of available facilities. In order to raise capital funding for both the school and the sports centre, it had been proposed that the Council's Unitary Development Plan be amended to declare some of the land for residential purposes. This would allow it to be sold off to release capital funding for the school and the centre. This was not well received locally, but was progressed because of the acute need for capital resources. If a City Academy is established there will be no sale of land because the school will not require the capital resources and the expanded size of the school, and its specialist provision, will require all the available space. Complementary and co-ordinated development of the school and the sports centre will still be sought to ensure maximum opportunity and best value from the available resources. LEA involvement The Local Authority (Brent Council) will continue to be intrinsically involved in the development of the City Academy. It is a priority for the Council to establish a strong and effective secondary school in Willesden and the Council is grateful for the opportunities that the City Academy brings in achieving that objective more quickly, and more substantially, than would otherwise have been the case. The Council has been closely involved in supporting the improvement of Willesden High School and would wish to ensure that the Council's local information, enthusiasm, expertise and its communication and consultation networks, can be used as a resource. The Council will be represented on the governing body of the City Academy and would be closely involved in the running and development of the Academy. 2

3 The strategy for secondary education across Brent has been developing in the past year, since 11 of the 13 schools became foundation or voluntary aided rather than GM schools. Despite the short time for this work, a clear strategy is already emerging, which has, at is core, the desire of schools to work collaboratively together and with the council to ensure that secondary education in Brent is of the highest possible quality. Willesden High School has been identified as the weakest link in the provision of secondary education, and all secondary schools have committed, and given, their support to its improvement. The work undertaken by secondary schools working together and in partnership with the Council in drawing up the Proposals for Excellence in Cities has been a model of mutual support and collaboration. Each secondary schools values its individual identity and wants to do its best for its pupils, but at the same time each school sees itself as part of a wider community, with responsibility for all the secondary aged pupils in the area. Fundinq Frank Lowe has agreed to sponsor the City Academy. He owns the Lowe Group, the fourth largest advertising and communications group in the world. In 1997, he started Octagon Sports Marketing which, after three years, is the third largest sports marketing group in the world which explains why he is keen to establish Willesden High as a City Academy with specialist sports provision. Following a feasibility study it is anticipated that at least f 10m will be required to bring Willesden High School's premises up to the standard required for a City Academy. 20% will be provided by the sponsor, with the rest coming form the DfEE, but including f 1.2m previously allocated to the council under NDS4 for Willesden High School. Additional funding is needed to bring the sports centre up to the standard required and expected by the local community. Opportunities for lottery funding are being pursued, but a recent change to the maximum allocations available for such projects has limited the potential benefits from this source. Work is currently underway on revised plans for the refurbishment of the sports centre, and for obtaining the necessary funding. Links with wider community The timing of the announcement of City Academies, the speed at which the initial proposals have needed to be drawn up, have not permitted local consultation so far. It is planned that, once the school staff are aware of the proposals, initial consultation will be taken with all relevant stakeholders and the local community. There is great enthusiasm from all partners for involving and securing the support of the local community. The school will wish to organise consultation with parents of pupils currently at the school, with other schools in the area 3

4 (primary and secondary), and with neighbours and community groups and representatives. Work is already underway to develop co-ordinated planning of developments with the adjacent sports centre. To provide a focus for the whole community, the City Academy will provide facilities for adult learning, as well as for its pupils and the young people of the community. Proposed specialism It is proposed that the City Academy will specialise in sports. This will capitalise on its location adjacent to the sports centre, as well as on the interests of the sponsor who will also be in a position to provide priceless support to the school in this area. It also builds on Willesden High School's earlier history as a centre of sporting excellence, and upon its aspirations to become a specialist sports college. This was a longer-term aim for the school, to be actively pursued once it was out of special measures. There is an overall need to provide a focus for sports development in schools in the Borough, in both the primary and secondary sectors. While there is much enthusiasm, the lack of overall co-ordination has meant that it this enthusiasm has not been harnessed and focused to maximum effect. The City Academy will work with local schools to map existing provision, identify common objectives and to plan for their achievement. It will provide activities out of school hours for its own pupils, and for those attending other Brent schools. It will provide expertise, together with training and development activities for school staff, and will co-ordinate borough-wide sporting events. The Academy will also act as the hub of a network giving access to national and specialist sporting organisations and expertise, including higher education institutions. Admissions criteria It is proposed that the City Academy adopts the admission criteria for community secondary schools in Brent, with the addition that 10% of the intake will be selected on the basis of their aptitude for sports. The means of assessing aptitude will be developed to match the portfolios of sports on which the school will concentrate its provision and support. It is proposed that the City Academy champions the role of parents in the school admissions process, and takes a strong lead in supporting the development of a common timetable and process for admission to all maintained secondary schools in Brent. At the same time it will encourage parental choice by supporting the ability of schools to determine their own characters by specifying additional admissions criteria related to subject specialism alongside those intended to give priority to children at risk of social exclusion. 4

5 Curriculum Development The Academy's ethos will be centred around high expectations of all its pupils and desire to achieve excellence. The sports specialism will develop healthy competition, as well as respect for participation and for giving of one's best. It will promote teamwork as well as individualism. The ethos will promote "old fashioned" yet pertinent characteristics such as "sportsmanship", whilst also aiming to innovate and develop creativity and entrepreneurship. The Academy will seek to develop every pupil's confidence, so that they can accurately assess their strengths, develop areas of weakness, and take their full and participative place in society. The Academy will develop the link between healthy minds and bodies, using its sports focus as a basis for promoting healthy lifestyles. The Academy will play a significant role in the Council's drug action team, and will actively support initiatives to reduce the exposure of young people to illegal substances, and to reduce crime. The curriculum will be broad and balanced and adapted to meet pupils' individual learning needs. It will recognise the differing needs of pupils but will build in high expectations for all. The Academy will espouse the objectives of Excellence in Cities, in which it will play a major part, in ensuring that it provides an education well suited to a city environment with both strengths and weaknesses as a context for learning and achievement. The Academy will promote social inclusion, developing expertise in behaviour management and SEN support so that as many pupils as possible can be retained within full time mainstream education. It will accept some pupils who have been excluded from other schools, without compromising its standards, but in order to allow a second chance to pupils who wish to take one. Its sports specialisms will be chosen to allow as many pupils with physical disabilities as possible to participate in sports. Manaqement structure for the proiect All of the key players are committed to the establishment of the City Academy: The sponsor, Willesden High School (staff, students and governing body), the Council and the DfEE all recognise their roles within the process, and the importance of working together. The key players are: Sponsor: Council: School: DfEE: Frank Lowe Jacky Griffin, Director of Education Phillip Snell, Head, Kingsbury High School, Acting Head at Willesden High School (Dec.1999 to Aug. 2000), and representing Brent secondary school headteachers. Frank Thomas, Head, Willesden High School David King, school project manager Dorman Long, Chair of Governors (also Brent Councillor) Helen Ellison 5

6 Time frame It is proposed that the City Academy be opened in September 2002, dependent upon the feasibility study and local consultations. Proposals were to be put to Brent Council in September 2000 for approval to proceed with the statutory process leading to the closure of Willesden High School immediately prior to its establishment as a City Academy. City Academy partnership action Establish partners and begin drawing up outline proposals. Outline proposal finalised by the partnership and submitted to DfEE. Consider possible members of project management team Response from DfEE with -approval and funding for development of detailed -$ioposal. I. Appointment of project management team, funded by DfEE Draw up detailed proposals in consultation with community, school, Council and DfEE Submit application for outline planning approval... - Submission of detailed.proposal to DfEE Li r. r,' :" Brent Council action Begin consultation with community. Proposals to members on establishment of City Academy Launch of "Excellence in Cities" for all secondary schools in Brent. Consider implications for Willesden Sports Centre and UDP. Formal consultation on proposals for closure of Willesden High School followed by immediate reopening as a City Academy. Briefing for planners. Issuing of statutory notices Review revenue budget implications and take into account in medium term budget planning Assess application for outline planning approval. Willesden High School action New Head in post Initial consultation with staff. Review existing capital program me. Contribute to outline proposals Begin to identify transition requirements. 6

7 City Academy partnership action Approval from DfEE Produce detailed plans for school rebuilding and refurbishment. Submit application for planning approval. Produce transition plan Begin major building works Begin recruitment of year 7 pupils to City Academy Brent Council action ~~ ~~ Report to committee members for formal decision on proposals for closure of Willesden High School followed by immediate reopening as a City Academy. Report on proposal to school organisation committee to request approval. Process planning application Review revenue budget implications and take into account in short term budget planning 3pening of New City Academy Willesden High School action Transition Period Although not specially required, the partnership would wish the Minister to be aware of the importance attached to the provision of education to the school's existing pupils from September 2000 to the start of the City Academy in September All partners are committed to ensuring that the standards and quality of education at the school improve over this period. Building work will be carefully planned, and suitable alternative accommodation provided on site when necessary. The DfEE will make funding available for additional staffing if this is required to maintain the levels of supervision and pupil teacher ratios if these are threatened by the interim arrangements. Action is also underway, thanks to the sponsor, to effect improvements in facilities at the school in this interim period. The sponsor's IT Director has already visited the school and has offered to provide assistance in any way possible, including hardware, server security, filtered internet access and, later in the year, some furniture. 7

8 . The new Head of Willesden High School, Frank Thomas, took up his post on 1 September It is a considerable asset to have on board a high calibre Head who can lead the school through this transition period, and then establish and lead the City Academy. Frank Thomas is well supported by a project management team so that he can manage the current school well, as well as contributing his extensive expertise to the development of the City Academy. 8

9 . APPENDIX DEMAND FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL PLACES IN BRENT LEA Demand for secondary school places in Brent is predicted to grow steadily between 2001 and It is estimated that between 362 and 565 additional places will be required in the 2008/9 academic year. The figures presented below show pupil projections using two different methodologies. As with many London LEAS there is significant cross border movement of pupils coming into, and leaving, Brent to attend a secondary school. Brent has traditionally been a net exporter of pupils aged 1 1 to 16. In 1999 significant numbers of secondary aged pupils resident in Brent attended schools in other Authorities including: Barnet (1 297 pupils), Harrow (747 pupils), Westminster (541 pupils) and Camden (553 pupils). Many Brent pupils also attend secondary schools in Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea. However, Brent schools are becoming more popular, and demand for places is increasing. Many popular schools in Brent are hugely oversubscribed. One school in the north of the borough received 606 applications for 216 places in Year 7 for admission in September Some schools consistently admit pupils in excess of their standard number and MOE capacities. Willesden High is the only mixed school in the borough that has consistently had capacity in Year 7 at the beginning of the academic year. The proposed new City Academy will be an attractive offer for parents who will then choose to send their children to this school. This will mean that many pupils who are currently travelling to the north of the borough or to other authorities will choose to attend the new City Academy. Many of the authorities surrounding Brent, particularly those edging the south of the Borough, are also projecting increased pupil numbers and insufficient capacity. As nearness to school is often a key criterion for admission, this will mean that Brent pupils may find it more difficult than at present, to secure a secondary school place in a neighbouring authority. Further details of the demand for secondary school paces is given in Brent's School Organisation Plan which can be provided on request. ' 100% replacement ratio London Research Centre (which does not included planned housing developments until formally agreed) 9

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