Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Council agrees plan to oust academy firm off Isle of Wight

Sandown Bay Academy
Image caption Pupil numbers at Sandown Bay have fallen to less than 1,000 from 1,252 in 2012.

Councillors have agreed to push forward with plans to oust an academy chain from managing schools on the Isle of Wight.

It comes after Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) announced plans to merge its Sandown Bay and Ryde academies.

Conservative councillor Chris Whitehouse said: "We want AET out of Sandown Academy and preferably off the island altogether."

The authority will now take its request to the Department for Education.

The council wants to establish or bring in another body to run the island's schools.

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Image caption Parents and children held protests against the merger

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesman said: "We are aware of AET's proposal to merge Sandown Bay Academy and Ryde Academy.

"Any significant change to an open academy must be approved by the department and there is a clearly defined process that academy trusts must follow."

AET said a consultation on the merger between the two schools was due to start next week.

The trust claims falling numbers and the consequent impact on finances had prompted the merger decision.

Catherine Hastings from the trust said: "We really do understand the depth of feeling among students and families. The facts are that there are way too many school places on the island."

The head teacher of Sandown Bay resigned and the board of governors was replaced earlier this year.

Four members of staff - one teacher and three support staff - currently face compulsory redundancy.

A final decision on the proposed merger will be made by the government after the general election.

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