A CHURCH primary school in St Austell has joined forces with four others to convert to a multi-academy trust.
Bishop Bronescombe School will unite with Grampound with Creed, Grampound Road, Ladock and Veryan schools, with the support of the Diocese of Truro.
David Rushton, head of Bishop Bronescombe School, will become executive principal of the St Piran's Cross Church of England Multi-Academy Trust.
Mr Rushton said the conversion symbolised a "significant shift in the educational model". The schools, which have a total of 650 pupils, will receive their funding direct from government and have more control over how it is spent, but must continue to meet the requirements of the national code of practice for State schools.
"With the support of the diocese, the staff, governors and parents, we have been working towards this moment now for more than a year," he said. "I'm delighted we now have the opportunity to provide a sustainable and high-quality educational model.
"In these times of public-sector cutbacks we will be able to continue to offer a choice to parents who wish to live in rural Cornwall and have their children educated at a local school. It's not been without its ups and downs and there will be others along the way, but without this type of thinking, it was clear that for many schools in this rural part of the country, the future was bleak."
The multi-academy trust will have a board of directors, including leaders from primary and secondary schools and a professor from Plymouth University, who will be responsible for the management of the schools' shared goals.
The Reverend David Michael, chairman of the board of directors, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to widen the educational experience while preserving the high-quality education alongside the Christian ethos for all the pupils in the trust.
"While schools have been converting for a few years now, I feel the time's right for these five schools to come together and convert in the best interests of the pupils."
Sue Green, diocesan director of education, said: "For the past few years the diocese has been actively encouraging schools to find new ways of working together that will sustain improvement, look at issues of sustainability and the opportunities to share resources. The bringing together of groups of schools with a common vision is essential at a time of considerable educational change"