3:24pm Thursday 26th November 2009
By Fran Bardsley
A SCHOOL where every pupil has to speak at least two languages has taken a step closer to becoming an academy — and admitting more local children.
As previously reported in the Oxford Mail, Oxfordshire County Council has agreed to support a bid by the European School, in Culham, to become England’s first multi-lingual academy.
The school is currently funded by the European Union and caters largely for the children of European officials working in Oxfordshire.
But it is planned to bring it under the wing of the Department for Children, Schools and Families as an academy specialising in languages and science.
And for the first time, local children could apply to study there without having to pay hefty tuition fees.
Unlike most proposed academies, the European School is not a failing school which needs turning around.
Instead, it is among several high-performing independent schools which want to transfer to the state sector while keeping some freedoms over curriculum, staffing and admissions.
EU funding for the school is being phased out from next year — but agreements have been put in place so any costs associated with the transfer would not come out of the county council’s pocket and would not impact on funding at other schools.
The school would also become the county’s first ‘all-through’ academy, providing education for three- to 18-year-olds.
If parents sent their children to the school’s nursery, they would have to reapply for a place in the main school for Year One. But they would be a guaranteed a place through to the sixth form.
Admission arrangements would be hammered out during a feasibility study, but the school would be able to select 10 per cent of the 60 pupils admitted each year for academic aptitude in languages, in which the school would specialise.
Other likely criteria would include closeness to the catchment area and siblings already studying at the school.
All pupils are taught in two languages from the outset, rising to as many as four or five in the sixth form.
Michael Waine, the council’s cabinet member for schools improvement, said parents would “relish” the choice of another school.
He added: “It will add quality and enrich what we have here in the Oxfordshire family of secondary schools and give greater choice to parents.”
If the academy scheme is approved by Education Secretary Ed Balls, a feasibility study and consultation will be carried out next year.
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