Crosshall Junior and Infants School in St Neots becomes an academy

ONE of St Neots’ top schools becomes an academy today (Friday, October 1) after being fast-tracked by the Government.

ONE of St Neots’s top schools becomes an academy today (Friday, October 1) after being fast-tracked by the Government.

Crosshall Academy now has direct control over its budget and management of classroom activity after Education Secretary Michael Gove hand-picked it to lead a new dawn for education.

Teachers will now be free to choose how they teach the childrens’ curriculum and enjoy a funding boost from businesses after a symbolic changing of the guard from reliance on the local authority.

Head teacher Julia Elliott said the school had been chosen for the outstanding example it set to other educational establishments but reassured parents they would see little difference in the way their children were educated.

“The Crosshall schools have not changed their philosophy,” she said. “We are still about one thing, which is creating the very best and stimulating learning environment.

“We have and always will be part of the family of the schools in Cambridgeshire.”

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Ofsted ranked the old Crosshall Junior and Infant School as one of the top 10 per cent in the country after parents said it was a “fantastic school, enriching the lives of both the children and community”.

It also said its teaching was “amazing” and that it had gained international awards at the highest level.

As a result of its “outstanding” status, it was able to bid to become an academy straight after the coalition Government’s radical announcement earlier this year.

Keen to free the exceptionally-performing school from burdensome paperwork and state control, the Department for Education gave it the green light, subject to staff being able to land a funding agreement.

Ms Elliott is keeping tight-lipped on how much the school coffers will be boosted, but it is clear that firms were keen to invest given the its success.

It found money in a matter a months and can now bypass many of the negotiations with central and local Government about how it should be run.

That means it can change the length of the school day, the structure of lessons and determine teachers’ pay without the say-so of Ministers and officials.

However, Ms Elliott assures people the fabric of the school will not change and that it will not make unnecessary alterations.

She also said it would continue to support other schools even though it was now officially a separate organisation.

“Crosshall children are Cambridgeshire children,” she said. “We care about the children not just when they are at Crosshall but when they leave and go to other schools.

“We are part of the St Neots Forum of Schools and we will always be part of this team. We will continue to provide training for our teachers and assistants and this training will now be offered to other schools.”