THE headteacher of a school being forced into academy status has met with the ‘interim exec-utive board’ for the first time.

Darwen Vale High School chief Fiona Jack has been told by the Government the school will definitely be turned into a spons-ored academy, independent from the local authority.

The Department for Education has also told Mrs Jack it wants The Aldridge Foundation, which runs the only other secondary school in the town – Darwen Academy – to be the academy’s sponsor.

Concerns have been raised by councillors, staff and parents over the forced change, which came after the school was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors.

Mrs Jack said she met with the IEB for the first time on Monday, including chairman Kevin Massey. She said: “The governing body was informed that it would ‘vacate office’ as of January 20 to make way for an Interim Executive Board. Members of the governing body have served this school for many years and I send a very heartfelt thankyou for their service, and loyalty, to the school.

“The IEB is made up of seven people with a wide range of relevant experience, and I am confident we can work well together to maintain, and improve, on the progress we have already made.

“This is a very challenging time for the school, but I will keep repeating that the most important priority for me remains the education of the children and that, whatever happens in response to this latest news, the staff are committed to making sure we do the very best for the pupils of Darwen Vale.”

Mr Massey said: “I am an independent education school improvement adviser with schools across primary and secondary phases in a variety of contexts in the North West and the Midlands.

“Importantly, for me, I am a resident of Darwen and I am very willing to lend my skills and experience to further the education of the children and young people of the town.”

The board also includes Chris Sunley, The Aldridge Foundation’s academic partner for the North West, Alan Davies, from Blackburn Diocese’s academies trust, Maxine Froggatt, a school improvement expert with connections to the borough, Terry Boynes, from Capita, Steve Hoyle, former chief executive of Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, and retired police Chief Superintendent Bob Eastwood.