Helenswood proposal to become ARK academy

HELENSWOOD School could become an academy as governors have announced their decision to begin consulting on the proposal to join the ARK schools academy network from September.

Letters were sent this week to staff and parents this week outlining the plans.

Gaby Hill, chairman of governors, said that the pursuit of excellence had prompted the decision.

She said: “We want this to be an excellent school so that’s why we have been looking to Helenswood’s future and considering whether we might become an academy.

“We concluded that we wanted a partner who shares our vision of Helenswood becoming an outstanding school, who will help us to build on the strong progress we have made in recent years and help us secure the best education for all students, so

every Helenswood girl can fulfil her potential.

“The governors were unanimous that ARK Schools is the partner which fits these criteria.”

ARK Schools is an education charity which operates a chain of academies in London, Birmingham and Portsmouth.

Parents have been invited to meetings at Helenswood on April 16 at the Lower School, and April 25 at the Upper School. Headteacher Lucy Monk said: “ARK’s ambition for every pupil is consistent with our ethos at Helenswood.

“We believe that joining the ARK Schools network will bring opportunities for our students, their families and our staff. We will be able to work with other successful schools and benefit from being part of a high performing network, collaborating to share best practice.

“The academic and extracurricular programmes on offer, and the network’s links with universities and other higher education institutions, will significantly increase the opportunities for our students.

“We have been impressed by ARK’s sharp focus on school improvement and its ability to retain the individual character of each school community.

“We are pleased too that we will retain our close working relationship with William Parker Sports College, ensuring the future of our shared sixth form Parkwood, and helping us develop this provision and other important shared initiatives.

“We are now consulting on the proposal and want parents to have the opportunity to learn more about ARK Schools and the benefits we believe it can bring to Helenswood.”

It was announced earlier this month that William Parker Sports College had applied to become an ARK academy, a move that comes after the boys’ school was placed in special measures following a damning Ofsted report.

On Tuesday (March 26) teachers at William Parker took part in a day of strike action over the academy plans.

If Helenswood and William Parker are successful in their applications, this will mean that all four of Hastings’ secondary schools will be academies from September (the others being The Hastings Academy and The St Leonards Academy), though unlike the other three, for Helenswood, the move will not have been prompted by poor results.

An ARK Schools spokesman said: “We are delighted to have been selected by Helenswood and we have a shared commitment to achieving the best possible outcomes for all the pupils and we are very much looking forward to working together.”

Information is available at www.arkschools.org.