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Schools could merge to create 3-19 city academy

Two SE1 schools could be merged to create a city academy for ages 3 to 19 specialising in the performing arts under new plans expected to be approved by Southwark Council's executive

Southwark's executive is expected to give the green light for consultation on two new academies, which would give Southwark more of the flagship schools than any other borough other nationally.

The plans to be put forward at a meeting of the executive on 23 May mean that up to 2,700 pupils could benefit from the new academies. Financed and managed by the DfES and an independent sponsor, they would result in new buildings, facilities and resources for the schools.

Under the proposals Aylwin Girls' School in Southwark Park Road could become an academy specialising in vocational education for secondary pupils and Geoffrey Chaucer secondary school and Joseph Lancaster primary school could merge to form an academy for ages 3-19 specialising in the performing arts.

If plans go ahead all current pupils would automatically become pupils at the new academies.

Cllr Caroline Pidgeon, executive member for education at Southwark Council, said: "We already have two academies in the borough and we're delighted that two more could be on their way subject to the council's decision to begin consultation. The academies programme is one route to improving the learning environment in our secondary schools, alongside the Building Schools for the Future programme, and we work in partnership with each school to find the best solution.

"The important thing is that all secondary schools, whether academies, voluntary aided, foundation or community, offer a quality learning environment to meet the educational needs of all Southwark students."

After the informal six week consultation, which will involve parents, governors, trade unions and other interested parties, the executive will decide whether to proceed with full consultation, at which point members of the public will also have an opportunity to give their input.

Southwark's existing city academies are The Academy at Peckham, sponsored by Lord Harris and the City of London Academy in Bermondsey, sponsored by Corporation of London.

The DfES has approved ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) as the proposed sponsor for Geoffrey Chaucer/Joseph Lancaster, and Lord Harris as the proposed sponsor for Aylwin.

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