Mar 10 2011 By Ben Turner
A WIRRAL secondary school is set to add Latin to its curriculum after becoming the first in the borough to get “fast-tracked” Academy approval.
The Wirral News can reveal that Prenton High School for Girls is set to convert to Academy status in the spring, after winning approval to do so by Secretary of State, Michael Gove.
In May, he wrote to all outstanding schools inviting them to apply for Academy status and the school has been told by Mr Gove it can proceed after impressing with its healthy finances and academic success.
Academies are free from local authority control, meaning they get funding directly from the Government and can set their own curriculum and prioritise funding in areas they see fit. The school is already planning to use the greater freedoms to bolster its curriculum and exploring the possibility of opening a mixed-sex sixth form.
The innovative timetable is set to include Latin from the age of 11 and, if demand is there, at GCSE level.
Latin is credited for boosting pupils’ English and modern language studies as well as honing analytical skills – but only 15% of state schools currently teach it.
The school is also set to add the iGCSE at English – the qualifications are often likened to old O-levels because they have more essay-based questions and extra topics.
But, despite the impending changes, headteacher Paula Dixon stressed the Academy would continue to specialise in science, maths and art and maintain its mission to encourage girls to break into the science industry.
She said: “Becoming an Academy gives us more freedom and spend funding on what we see as our priorities.
“We have had a good relationship with the local authority which has been very supportive but we feel this status will just give us more flexibility and allow us to do what we want with our money.
“We are looking at strengthening the curriculum and widening the offer for such as the possibility of the iGCSE, particularly in English.
“Another thing we are also looking at is bringing in Latin at pre-entry level and at GCSE, not compulsory but if the demand is there. We intend to run an integrated humanities course at Key Stage Three and Latin would fit in perfectly to that.”
Confirming the sixth-form plan, Mrs Dixon said it was at the drawing board stage but she envisaged students doing courses at the Academy as well as in partnership with existing providers.
Birkenhead’s Ridgeway High is also looking at taking up the coalition government’s academy offer.
It is consulting with parents, staff and the community before deciding whether to make a firm proposal.