A SECONDARY school in Nelson is set to become an academy next month – more than two years after the government first gave the order for it to be converted.

Marsden Heights Community College in Brierfield was told that it would be put under the control of an academy trust back in February 2017, following an OFSTED judgement two months earlier which had sent the school into special measures.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has now agreed to put the necessary legal agreements in place to complete the conversion on 1st June – or as soon as practical after that date.

The 1,000-pupil school – on Edge End Lane – will then become part of the United Learning Trust academy chain, leaving the control of the local authority.    Once an academy order has been issued, education bosses at County Hall are obliged to facilitate the change.

Papers presented to a virtual cabinet meeting state that the county council has continued to work with the school since the 2016 OFTSED inspection to help improve its performance.

“In January 2019, the school was re-inspected due to the lengthy delay in the process of conversion and was judged to ‘require improvement’ demonstrating the impact of the actions taken by the school to this point,” the report notes.

Authority has been delegated to the county council’s chief executive to complete the legal procedures surrounding the conversion and an indemnity put in place protecting her against any claim made against her in relation to that process.

Lancashire has far fewer academy schools than many other local authority areas.   As of October 2019, just 50 out of 629 schools had converted, either as the result of a Department for Education-imposed order or of their own volition.

United Learning Trust – which operates Accrington Academy and The Hynburn Academy, along with almost 90 others around the country – was contacted for comment.