Burnley secondary school Hameldon Community College has applied to become an Academy.
Headteacher Miss Gill Broom has confirmed to the Express that governors had entered into formal discussions with the Department for Education, which if successful, would see the school become independent of the local authority.
The news is the latest twist in the Hameldon saga, since the school was opened in 2006 under the Building Schools for the Future programme.
Occupying an impressive new site in Coal Clough Lane, Hameldon has endured heavy criticism from Ofsted inspectors and a dwindling number of pupils. Its school roll of 360 pupils is said to be roughly half of the new building’s capacity.
Miss Broom responded after the Burnley Express received a second letter this week, allegedly written by Hameldon staff members, angry that discussions had started without first consulting parents.
Miss Broom said: “The governors have entered into formal discussions with the Department for Education, the local authority and the Pennine Federation in relation to Hameldon becoming an academy with the Pennine Federation as our sponsor.
“Formal consultation with parents, carers and staff will follow in the coming months, but I must stress that no decision has been taken at this stage.”
Academies, generally opposed by unions for representing a “privatised” form of education, can set their own pay and conditions for staff, choose to opt out of the National Curriculum and have the ability to change the lengths of terms and school days.
The Express first received a letter calling for the resignation of Miss Broom, after it emerged that staff redundancies were being sought.
County secretary of the NASUWT teaching union Mr Mac Harrison visited members in the school yesterday (Thursday).
He said: “I regret the way that information from the school seems to be coming into the public domain. However, our members do have concerns. I have met with them about the need to reduce teaching posts.
“The scale of redundancies is quite small. I understand that further staff restructuring is planned for next year.
“Regarding the academy proposal, we would be disappointed if this went ahead. We view academies as the privatisation of education with less public accountability. Clearly we would want to know what other options have been explored.
Hameldon becoming an academy would be a sad day for education in Burnley.”