Wymondham College head 'regrets' academy move

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Media captionWymondham College principal Melvyn Roffe regrets his school becoming an academy

The head of one of Norfolk's top state schools has said he regrets his school becoming one of Education Secretary Michael Gove's flagship academies.

Wymondham College principal Melvyn Roffe, accused the Department for Education (DfE) of "micromanaging" schools.

He said he thought the school would gain more freedom but the reality was "more government control".

The DfE disputed Mr Roffe's claims and said academies had more autonomy.

Image caption Wymondham College principal Melvyn Roffe wanted more freedom to run his school

Mr Roffe, who is soon to leave the school after seven years in charge, to head a leading private college in Edinburgh, criticised the DfE.

He said the school, named by society magazine Tatler as one of Britain's top state schools, became an academy because he was "told this would mean major changes to our autonomy" and "more freedom".

Mr Roffe said: "What happened was the reverse. We have had more control from central government rather than local government."

He added: "I don't believe he (Michael Gove) intended academy status to reduce autonomy. I wish he had the courage to say there are schools doing a good job and they should be allowed to do a good job."

Image caption Education Secretary Michael Gove has championed the move to academy schools

Mr Roffe said the DfE was always "looking over your shoulder, and driven by pettiness".

A DfE spokesman told the BBC: "These claims are wrong. Our academies' programme takes power away from politicians and bureaucrats and gives it to heads and teachers who know their pupils best.

"Academies don't belong to a remote bureaucracy. Instead they have the freedom to run their school as they think best — by setting pay and conditions for staff, changing the length of the school day and term, shaping their own curriculum and controlling their own budgets."

Ex-pupils of Wymondham College include Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb, former Labour Transport Secretary Stephen Byers and writer and broadcaster Nicholas Crane.

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