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A BLACKBURN primary school will be the first in the borough to become an academy, at the start of next month.

The news comes as Blackburn with Darwen Council prepares to sign over the land at Wensley Fold VC CE Primary School, which will become Wensley Fold Academy from March 1, on a 125 year lease.

Becoming an academy means the governors will be in charge of curriculum and admissions, as well as their own budget, which will be funded by central government.

The Manor Road school, which underwent a £3million two-storey council-funded extension two years ago, is understood to be the first primary in the borough to become independent of the council.

Council leader Kate Hollern said: “We have no choice but to transfer the land. The government insists that schools that become free schools and academies have land transferred. It’s a shame, but we have no say in the matter.

“It’s right that the school has land for children to play on, and I hope that the school makes good use of it. But these changes are making it impossible for the council to plan longer term. I’m concerned about the implications of free schools and academies in the future. We are being bypassed in the process.

“I hope that the school continues with its out-of-hours community use.

“All the financial planning that went into making sure we had the best value for the BSF funding is now pointless.

“Lots of schools are seeing opportunities and taking them. Academy applications are being bulldozed through and I think we will see more in the future.”

The transfer is expected to be approved at Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive board tomorrow.

The main school buildings have already been transferred to the diocese and the trustees have requested that the remainder of the site, which includes the lodge house, playing fields and hard play area, be transferred.