HILLINGDON is in the top 10 local authorities in the country for secondary schools converting to academies.
According to the Department for Education, 81 per cent of secondaries – 13 schools – that were previously maintained by Hillingdon Council have become academies since the government passed the Academies Act in 2010, which made it easier for schools to opt out of council control.
Hillingdon’s is the seventh highest in percentage terms in the UK. Neighbouring borough Harrow comes eighth, with eight schools – or 80 per cent of the school estate – making the switch.
This does not take into account a pending application from Ruislip High School, in Sidmouth Drive, Ruislip, which has to wait until August before finding out whether the bid can progress.
Councillor Douglas Mills, chair of governors at Ruislip High, said of the prospective switch: “The school governors have considered where the school is at in terms of development, and see this as a good time to go to an academy. That is the journey we propose to take.
“We are a young school and only opened in 2006, and this is our first year group of A-level students, so a lot will depend on those results.
“Hillingdon will have £2.5million less funding for education support services, so schools are gradually having to face the reality and do things themselves. The role of the local authority in education is diminishing.”
The London boroughs of Bromley and Kingston upon Thames also feature in the top 10.
Top of the list is Rutland unitary authority in the Midlands, which has relinquished the three schools formerly under its remit and is therefore the only area that shows a 100 per cent conversion rate.
Primary schools in Hillingdon borough are increasingly following the same trend.
At the beginning of February, three junior schools became academies – St Matthew’s CofE Primary, in High Street, West Drayton; Cowley St Laurence CofE, in Worcester Road, Cowley; and Coteford Primary, in Fore Street, Eastcote.
A further two – Laurel Lane Primary School, in Laurel Lane, West Drayton, and Brookside Primary School, in Perth Avenue, Hayes – have also applied to receive their funding directly from the government.
At last Thursday’s cabinet meeting of Hillingdon Council’s cabinet, councillors granted the long term leases needed to facilitate the conversion of the latter three schools.
Deanesfield Primary and Nursery, in Queen’s Walk, Ruislip, has this month also applied to change its status.
Three special schools have already made the conversion.