TWO Bicester schools will decide next year whether to convert to an academy.

Secondary school Cooper, off Churchill Road, and primary school Glory Farm have been given permission by the Government to press ahead with proposals to become a Multi Academy Trust.

Both schools have now launched consultation exercises and their governing bodies are expected to make a final decision before next summer.

If approved, it could mean the academy is set up before the end of the current academic year.

Both schools, which formed the Bicester Federation of Learning about a year ago, have been given £25,000 each to cover all the costs associated with the proposal.

Because the schools need to access the set-up grant, they have to get permission from the Government to convert to academy status before they make the final decision.

If governors give the green light, both schools would set up a charitable trust aimed at promoting education for public benefit.

Schools within the academy would keep their own names and governing body, but would be part of the Bicester Academy of Learning, run by an executive board.

Michael Waine, chairman of Cooper School governors, said: “Basically an academy is an independent school within the public sector. But what it does mean is we are the driving force.

“It’s about working together, challenging and supporting each other and any savings able to be made will be fed back into children’s learning.

“At the moment we are looking at going in as two schools together, but we have invited other local primary schools to join us. We see the future of education locally as supporting each other by collaborating.”

Converted academies are successful schools which opt out of local authority control to gain their own say over their budgets, admissions and curriculum. Ofsted would still carry out inspections.

They receive money direct from central Government, rather than via Oxfordshire County Council.

It comes as the council is looking to outsource many of its school services, including the music service, to make savings.

Mr Waine said converting to academy status could benefit the schools in the face of council cuts.

He said: “The way education is going in England, more schools need to stand alone and be self-reliant. This would be a move to our benefit.”

Ian Elkington, who took over as headteacher at Glory Farm School, in Hendon Place, last September, said: “We are looking at all the options.

“The question is: what is best for our children?”

  • Bicester Community College at the moment stands alone because it is still in special measures following a report by Ofsted earlier this year. Any decision on its future would be made by its interim executive board and the county council.