Summit talks on Bourne school’s academy row

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TALKS are finally under way between a school and charity to resolve objections over plans to become an academy.

Representatives from Bourne Grammar School and Bourne United Charities met on Monday to discuss the school’s bid for academy status.

The charities’ agreement is needed because they own part of the land the school is built on. The trustees had objected because of fears the school could lose its selective status, leaving Bourne without a grammar school.

They were also concerned there would be no way back after becoming an academy.

But headteacher Jonathan Maddox says not becoming an academy would mean missing out on £450,000 in funding next year, forcing it to consider staff cuts and cutting back on courses.

He said: “We approached the charities asking if they were prepared to have an informal meeting and they said yes.

“We sent one of our governors to meet their people this week and we are in communication now.”

Now the trustees hope they can all put their differences aside and move forward.

Chairman Bob Brown is positive all the issues can be resolved.

He said: “We are moving forward and the parties are still talking, but it is a bit slow.

“We are just working our way through the issues that have been discussed and it is now a case of seeing if we can resolve our differences and can move forward.

“One thing we want people to know is that we want to make sure that Bourne Grammar School’s future is secure.”

Last week Mr Maddox hit back at the charity’s objections to the bid but said he still wanted to meet with its trustees.

He received a three-page statement from Bourne United Charities a fortnight outlining its objections.

Mr Maddox confirmed that the school’s grammar school status would be unaffected if it became an academy.

The charity also wants to preserve the Bourne Education Foundation, to which it appoints four trustees to be governors at the school.

The charity said if the grammar school status was lost, the education foundation would be a shell charity with no trustees and it would not be able to give money to other schools in town.

But Mr Maddox said in his response that the money given out to schools in the town represents a tiny proportion of their budgets.

Mr Maddox added: “We are trying to sort everything out.”

He said he has received lots of support on this matter from parents and members of the community.

Mr Maddox said: “I am very grateful for this.”

The school has an annual budget of about £4m but Mr Maddox expects to get slightly less than this for the 2011/12 financial year.