Consultation on Portland's £30m academy plan starts

Junior school pupils writing Groups for and against the academy have set up pages on Facebook

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A major consultation on a planned £30m academy in Dorset has begun.

The Portland academy, for four to 19-year-olds, would replace the island's six schools in September 2011. It will specialise in environmental and sports science.

People can lodge their views on the plans over a 14-week period.

The local authority is co-sponsoring the bid with Professor Stephen Heppell, chairman of Bournemouth University's new media environments.

Divided opinion

Prof Heppell said: "The proposal to create an all-age academy for Portland has grown out of the collective desire of local head teachers to bring about life-changing opportunities to young people in their care."

The consultation process will be managed by an independent project management company which will submit a report to the Secretary to State for Education Michael Gove, who makes the final decision on whether to give the initiative the go-ahead.

The local authority added it would be conducting its own consultation between 14 June and 23 July for parents, students, staff and the community.

John England, head of Dorset's learning and school improvement, said: "We have been working alongside the sponsor to ensure that all those individuals and groups who want to be involved in the consultation are given ample opportunity to do so."

Meanwhile, a A Say No To Portland Academy Facebook page has attracted more than 600 members and a Portland Says Yes to the academy Facebook page has attracted about 223 members.

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