AN AMBITIOUS move is under way to amalgamate four primary schools into a single 'super-academy'.
St Petroc's in Bodmin, St Mabyn and St Tudy near Wadebridge and Lerryn near Lostwithiel plan to unite as the Saint's Way Multi-Academy, and opt out of full local authority control.
All are Church of England schools, and if Education Secretary Michael Gove approves the plan other C of E primaries in the area could join.
The schools stand to gain an extra 10 per cent of funding by linking together – in St Petroc's case, £152,000 per year.
It's the first time in Cornwall that four primary schools have indicated they wish to form a single academy, and if it goes ahead the Saint's Way project will have 766 pupils. An academy principal would take overall charge, with a management team and a head of school at each primary.
Stuart Renshaw, head of St Petroc's, the largest school, said each set of governors would have to agree to the move once consultations with parents and other interested parties had been concluded.
"The schools would retain their own identities, including uniforms, but there would be an academy principal with overall responsibility for teaching," he said.
"An academy would allow us autonomy, to take control and make decisions outside the local education authority and provide a sustainable future for the schools involved.
"We would also receive direct funding from the Government, which will be 10 per cent more than we currently receive from the local education authority.
"Consultations have now begun, and once they're concluded it'll be up to the governing bodies of the schools to decide if this is the right route for us to take."
If the consensus was in favour of forming a multi-school academy trust, an application would go to Mr Gove for final approval.
Mr Renshaw said the four schools were hopeful academy status could be achieved by November of this year, and other schools could also join in the future.
Fiona Corfield, head teacher at Lerryn C of E Primary School, said she was thrilled at the prospect of linking with the other schools.
"We see it as a really exciting opportunity to work with other schools supporting all children in developing and learning," she said.
St Tudy and St Mabyn primary schools formed a federation last year, and head teacher Karen Holmes said she believed the academy was the right way forward.
"We're excited about the prospect of being able to work closer together with other schools for the benefit of all schools, whatever their size," she said. "We also look forward to hearing the views of parents and other local community members about the proposal."