North Taunton Academy - Ladymead and St Augustine's split over plans

Somerset County Gazette: Mark Formosa (centre) with St Augustine's head teacher Simon Rowe and executive head Maggie Mooney. Mark Formosa (centre) with St Augustine's head teacher Simon Rowe and executive head Maggie Mooney.

PROPOSALS for a £20m North Taunton academy are in disarray after one of the schools involved said the project is unpopular.

Ladymead Community School governors said a survey at a consultation meeting last week showed 100% opposition, while a petition calling for Ladymead to stay open received more than 120 signatures.

The proposals would see Ladymead and The St Augustine of Canterbury School closing and merging to form an academy on the site of the former.

The academy, which would open next year and have new buildings by 2013, would be sponsored by the Church of England and other organisations.

Ladymead governors, who initially backed talks about the academy, now believe it is not in the best interests of the school or community.

Chairman Nick Evelyn said: “Many parents chose to send their children to Ladymead and now fear for their education.

“They don’t want a faith secondary schooling for their children or they’d have sent them to St Augustine’s, which is a church school.”

He added that staff oppose the proposals and some could leave amid fears their jobs could be at risk.

Mr Evelyn said: “New buildings don’t make a school – that comes from the good ethos, strong leadership and excellent and innovative staff Ladymead already has.

“Why close a thriving and popular school which has so much to offer to the children of North Taunton for an unknown academy which will be an independent faith school, funded by public taxes, but be outside Local Education Authority control?”

*THE head teacher at St Augustine’s, backed by his governors and staff, supports the academy.

Simon Rowe recently told the County Gazette: “We firmly believe an academy in North Taunton will provide a unique opportunity to meet the needs and aspirations not only of our young people, but also the community as a whole.”

Taunton MP Jeremy Browne is a long-term academy supporter and successfully lobbied the Government to reinstate the plans after they threatened to scrap them.

Mark Formosa, who is standing for the Conservatives in Taunton at the next General Election, said: “The North Taunton academy project is crucial to improving the standard of education on offer to the young people of Taunton.

“I was heartened to hear how committed to the project were the staff and governors of St Augustine’s.

“It is a really exciting project for the town and I so do hope the Ladymead governors will not be deflected from it.”

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