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Highcliffe School to merge with HISP Multi Academy Trust

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HIGHCLIFFE School has announced it will be merging with a Southampton academy trust in a drive to bring investment in staff training and development, and facilities for students.

The school, which is already an academy trust, will be linking up with HISP MAT, which consists of Thornden School in Chandler’s Ford and two Southampton-based primary schools: Portswood and Tanner’s Brook.

In a letter to parents and pupils, head teacher Patrick Earnshaw said the decision was “rooted in the positive impact it will have for current and future Highcliffe School students”.

Highcliffe School is linking with HISP Multi Academy Trust
Highcliffe School is linking with HISP Multi Academy Trust

He told the A&T the move will give the school access to funding set aside for multi-academy trusts that may help it replace some of its buildings.

And he confirmed: “The day-to-day running of the school will remain unchanged and I will continue as head teacher.”

The decision to merge was made by the school’s governors after 18 months “carefully scrutinising” a wide range of trusts operating in the local area, he said.

Mr Earnshaw pointed to a “creative partnership” with Thornden School, which is a national Research School and leads an improvement partnership supporting hundreds of education establishments in the region.

There are 22 Research Schools across the UK which provide training and professional development, support other teachers in developing new ways of teaching and assist in applications for research grants.

“Staff at Highcliffe will become both recipients of and delivery partners for HISP’s extensive and highly regarded region-wide school improvement network, based around two teaching school hubs serving the wider geographical area,” continued Mr Earnshaw.

“This partnership will bring investment in staff training and development, in facilities for students, and new opportunities for both staff and students – for example, from the Science Learning Partnership and the Solent Maths Hub.”

Su Whelan, chief executive officer of HISP, wrote in a letter to staff at Highcliffe: “When I first met Patrick nearly a year ago, we arranged a quick call and an hour later we were still talking.

“At that point it was clear we have a similar outlook on education.

“We will only place our Learning Partnership delivery in great schools that share our vision, as well as having excellent staff who can contribute successfully to this. Highcliffe School offers this capacity in your area.

“I really am excited about the opportunities ahead and our strong schools will shape our future together.

“You will be a foundation that helps us move forward, creating stunning opportunities for our students, families, and communities.”

Academy schools are state-funded schools with higher degrees of autonomy in governance, use of resources and curriculum. They receive funding directly from the government, as opposed to a local authority, and are run by an academy trust.

They must follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools and students sit the same exams. Academies are also inspected by Ofsted.

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