PROFESSOR Tim Wheeler has given an insight into the vision behind the proposed academy for Ellesmere Port.
Mr Wheeler, who is vice-chancellor at lead sponsor The University of Chester, believes the £25m scheme to replace Ellesmere Port Specialist School of Performing Arts (EPSSPA) and Cheshire Oaks with a new state-of-the-art facility will provide children with the education they deserve.
Formal consultation into the plan is now under way and if it gets the go-ahead to open next September the project will see:
A brand new £25m facility built on the EPSSPA site by 2011.
Five million pounds invested into the academy over a three-year period.
Staff from both schools working at the new site.
A principal appointed to manage the academy.
Parents and staff invited to be part of the new governing body.
A total of 1,350 pupils will be based at the new school, which will be called The University Church of England Academy, with a phased run down of the Cheshire Oaks site taking place over a two-year period while the new facility is built.
Professor Wheeler told the Pioneer: “We’re seeking to build on the existing strengths of EPSSPA, with its performing arts, and the sporting prowess associated with Cheshire Oaks.
“We will also specialise in maths. Both are challenged schools and although they have been improving they haven’t in terms of students with five GCSEs including English and maths.
“It won’t be a quick-fix. We will look at the best ways of teaching maths and to make it exciting.
“This is very significant investment. It will provide the learning experience that the school children deserve. An additional £5m, spread over three years, will be invested in the IT infrastructure and to enhance teaching quality. This wouldn’t happen if there wasn’t to be an academy.”
The two other sponsors working alongside the university are Cheshire County Council and the Diocese of Chester. Together they will appoint a principal to manage the academy.
Professor Wheeler said: “The academy gives us great flexibility on the way we deliver the curriculum and to be innovative more readily and rapidly.
“We will have a public advert for the post of principal. They must have innovative ideas about the curriculum and have the ability to inspire staff.
“All the staff will be moved over to the academy. We would like staff and pupils over as soon as possible but it may be that year seven and eight remain at Cheshire Oaks for a period of time.
“It will be a very welcoming and inclusive school. Facilities will be used throughout the year.”
High-profile opposition to the plan has come in the form of pressure group Keep Ellesmere Port Schools (KeEPS), which consists members of the West Cheshire teaching union and parents.
They have been against academies since the original scheme involving Whitby High was first unveiled in 2007.
Public consultation sessions will take place on Monday, October 20 between 4-7pm at Cheshire Oaks High and at the same time on the following day at EPSSPA.
To view the consultation document visit www.proposeduniversityceacademy.org
On Saturday KeEPS will set up a stall in Asda car park from 11am-1pm encouraging people to fill in response forms.