Tor View Specialist Learning Community has explored the benefits of converting to an Academy School, since summer 2015, having extensively discussed the possibility with the school governors.

Following a consultation process with staff, parents and carers, the school gained the necessary core support and permissions to proceed with the application for conversion to an Academy. The Governing Body agreed that the school should take the next steps towards conversion and the Department for Education and Local Authority were advised accordingly.

The school converted to Academy status with effect from 1st January 2017. The Governors wished to ensure that we could continue to provide an excellent education for all our pupils whilst retaining all our strengths and unique characteristics. The spirit of our Academy will be rooted in collaboration and partnership and we look forward to working with other schools who share our vision and ethos.

School Principal, Andy Squire said “We have been considering this development since 2010 when the new government invited us, along with other eligible schools to apply. At the time our feeling was that pupils, staff and parents/carers had less to gain by taking the step. Our feeling is that now the balance has changed and the answer to the question ‘what is best for the school’ is; to convert.

“Lancashire County Council has always been supportive, a source of expertise and advice and has been able to provide excellent leadership to school, the special school sector and ourselves particularly. This is increasingly, no longer the case as hugely significant year on year cuts has meant that the LEA is less well equipped to support our specialist needs but also crucially offer the staff expertise. The time has come to look for alternatives to this support.

“Our challenge must be now to ensure the transition to Academy Status is achieved smoothly and effectively minimising any adverse impact of pupils, their parents and staff. It is very important that we continue to develop our school and ensure our record of three successive Outstanding Ofsted inspection grades becomes four.

“We look forward to having more direct control of our development and feel we are well placed to do so”.

Headteacher, Angela Holdsworth said “Our role as a National Teaching School, as well as a National Support School leaves us well placed to share developments with existing partner schools through the East Lancashire Inclusion Partnership. We have been developing this Alliance for the past three years and collaborate with or support approximately fifty likeminded schools in Rossendale or wider Lancashire. Our overarching aim is to continually improve the quality of teaching, learning, standards and special educational needs support for students locally. We wholeheartedly place our pupils at the centre of all that we hope to achieve and recognise that working together on new and existing initiatives will bring about valuable developments locally.

Andy Squire added “In light of the recent news that the government has announced its desire to see all schools convert to Academy by early 2020’s. It seems opportune to confirm our actions now. Whilst for this school the time is right to convert it will remain a concern that there is no local co-ordination of the academy school system. This makes it all the more important that we remain absolutely committed to serving these young people of Rossendale who have learning difficulties and disabilities first and wider Lancashire, when required, second. It is fundamental to our vision that we will be Tor View Community Special School: An Academy proud to serve Rossendale and be part of the Lancashire family of schools”.

Pete Sweetmore, Chairman of the Governing Body said “These are exciting times at Tor View. We have a history of taking responsibility for our own development and this is a similar challenge. We are proud to be Lancashire’s first special school to take this step. We do this with some trepidation, a degree of sadness with regard to the demise of our LEA but ultimately confident that in partnership with parents, carers, staff and pupils we can grow further as we continue to define an outstanding education for all the young people at Tor View”.