Councillors will this month be asked to agree proposals which will set out a sustainable plan for a County Durham school.

Action will be outlined to Durham County Council’s Cabinet to secure a positive future for Durham Community Business College (DCBC), in Ushaw Moor.

The plans would see the school join an established multi-academy trust, with the council contributing to plans by writing off the school’s current budget deficit.

A Durham-based multi academy trust, the Advance Learning Partnership (ALP) has provisionally expressed interest in taking on DCBC. To enable the transfer to happen the council needs to write off the budget deficit so that the transition to ALP is financially viable.

The council has a strong and effective working relationship with ALP and has worked successfully with the organisation on other academy projects in the past.

The Department for Education (DfE) is supportive of the proposals, identifying the need to preserve pupil places within the central planning area. The DfE has committed to providing additional financial support to enable the transfer to ALP. This national investment in the infrastructure and also to meet short-term financial challenges is welcome and will benefit education of children in the area.

Cllr Ted Henderson, the council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “There is currently high demand for pupil places in this area of the county, with four of the five secondary schools in the planning area oversubscribed. It is therefore essential that we help to secure the future of DCBC as an important part of the county’s education offer.

“The only sustainable way to improve educational standards and secure future growth in pupil numbers at DCBC is for us to broker sponsorship with a multi-academy trust.

“We have worked effectively with ALP over previous conversions at both Wolsingham and Bishop Barrington schools, where, as with DCBC, pupil numbers were a major concern.”

If the council chooses to write-off the current deficit, it would be met from the School Reserve, which is in place to serve this purpose.

Should Cabinet approve the proposals, the academisation of DCBC will take place from 1 January 2023. This is provided all due diligence activities are successful and the current deficit situation is addressed.

Cabinet meets at County Hall in Durham at 9.30am on Wednesday 14 September. The meeting can be viewed at www.youtube.com/user/DurhamCouncil


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