Dorset

Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy school board members resign

IPACA Maritime House
Image caption IPACA moved to former Ministry of Defence building Maritime House at Southwell Business Park in September

The chairman and vice chairman of an academy school board have resigned over changes to the way the school is run.

Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) is an independent trust, co-sponsored by the Aldridge Foundation and Dorset County Council.

From January it will join Aldridge Education - a multi-academy trust.

More than 700 parents have signed an online petition against the plans. Aldridge Education said IPACA governors had voted to join the trust.

Image caption The 1950s building was completely remodelled prior to IPACA's move

Former vice chairman of the IPACA board of governors Matt Longshaw said he did not believe London-based Aldridge Education had "the best interest of the school at heart".

"Bringing in the multi-academy trust will mean that local governors will go, so local control, local understanding of the problems and the issues will disappear."

He said a London-based board would be appointed to make decisions about the running of the school.

Aldridge Education said all of its schools retained their individual community identities and IPACA would have its own Local governing Committee, which would include parents and staff representatives.

A spokeswoman said: "The multi-academy trust structure enables us to have more local people on the Local Governing Committee as the requirements for the governing body to have people with certain specific skills to address financial and legal issues is reduced."

'Financial pressure'

Chairman John Tizard confirmed he had also resigned, saying he "explained the reasons to colleagues".

Dorset County Council's cabinet member for learning and skills, Councillor Deborah Croney, said: "We want the best possible outcomes for all children at state-funded schools in Dorset.

"The introduction of an academy was to drive improvements and these have taken longer than expected.

"When any change to a school is proposed we discuss it with the regional schools commissioner, which we will be doing in this case."

The school for four to 19-year-olds opened in 2012 and previously operated across three sites.

It moved to former Ministry of Defence building Maritime House at Southwell Business Park in September.

The move was delayed when planning permission was refused but was later granted on appeal in April 2014.

Governors previously said the delay put it under "significant financial pressure" because of the costs involved in working across three sites.

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