Special school may opt out of Islington Council control

A special school could wrest itself from local authority control to manage its own finances and set its own curriculum.

Parents have their final chance to voice their opinions on whether The Bridge School, which caters for 156 children, all of whom have autism or serious learning disabilities, should become an academy.

This would give the outstanding-rated Holloway school greater independence from Islington Council and more control over its finances. It may even get extra funding from central government.

But opponents fear it would be harder to hold the school to account. It would also have to take on the staff pension pot. A source close to the school said: “There would be no accountability. It would be quite a secretive set-up.”

Headteacher Dr Penny Barratt said: “The benefits would be greater autonomy and the right to deliver our own curriculum.

“Employment law promises that pay and conditions will stay exactly the same. There is a grey area about pensions. We have appointed an independent actuary to tell us what the risk would be.

“It’s not a done deal. I have to look into what is right.”

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Islington Council wants the school, based in Hungerford Road and Carleton Road, to continue to work closely with its officials.

Cllr Richard Watts, Labour executive member for children and families, said: “The pupils need a high level of support from the council and the health service. These services need to work together. If The Bridge is a bit more at arm’s length, that will be more difficult.”

The school is consulting with the community ahead of the decision being made on May 31.

The consultation runs until tomorrow. To express your view, e-mail: academyconsultation@thebridge.islington.sch.uk