SCHOOLS in Pendle look set to become academies following talks with their governing bodies.

Colne Primet High School has announced that it is has secured the initial approval from the Department for Education to convert into an academy if Nelson and Colne College joins forces as a sponsor.

But Liberal Democrat councillor Tony Greaves claims that three primary schools in Pendle are being subjected to ‘unacceptable bullying’ by top level education bosses to apply to become academies.

Academies are funded by central government and are free from local authority control.

They are in charge of their own budget, curriculum and admissions.

Nelson and Colne College has said it is looking into creating a trust to sponsor primary and secondary schools that convert into academies in a bid to raise attainment.

Colne Primet High School headteacher, Janet Walsh, said: “Following an expression of interest from Colne Primet High School governors to the Department for Education, Michael Gove gave his approval in principle for the school to convert to Academy as part of a trust to be established by Nelson and Colne College.

“School governors voted unanimously to seek to convert as they believe it will be in the long term interests of the school.

“Plans for the consultation regarding the conversion are being drawn up which will provide all interested parties with a full and accurate account of the vision for the school as an academy and an opportunity to contribute to its future development.”

Nelson and Colne College principal Amanda Melton said: “The college's governing body agreed to explore the possibility of creating an academy trust which would recognise the specific educational aspirations and challenges in Pendle.

“As yet no plans have been confirmed and nothing will be finalised until much more information has been collected.

“A further primary school has also expressed a wish to be adopted by the college as sponsor in its academy conversion.”

Lord Greaves said: “It is an open secret within education circles in Pendle that discussions have been taking place for some time with a view to Colne Primet High School converting to academy status under the sponsorship of Nelson and Colne College.

“In many ways these secret plans for three primary schools are even more alarming.

“If three schools are forced to break away it is likely to be the start of the fragmentation of the local schools system in Pendle and a descent into open competition a level that we will live to regret.”