Town school to be created as merger gets green light

St Benet's MAT/ perfectposephotography.co.uk

Rob Connelly, executive headteacher at Harleston and Richard Cranmer, chief executive of St Benet's MAT - Credit: St Benet's MAT/perfectposephotography.co.uk

A new 'all-through' school is the be created in a south Norfolk town after a touted merger between its primary and secondary was given the government's green light.

Proposals to merge Harleston CE Primary Academy and Archbishop Sancroft High School were revealed in 2017, but it was not until September last year that parents and carers were given the opportunity to comment on the plans.

A six-week public consultation was held, as was a public meeting to discuss the scheme.

With this process now complete, the amalgamation will go ahead, with the new arrangement potentially coming into effect from September this year.

Richard Cranmer, chief executive of St Benet's Multi Academy Trust, which both schools are part of, said: "This has been a vision we have been working on since June 2017 and we are thrilled that we have been given the green light from the Department for Education.

"The St Benet's Trust Board, with full support from the Diocese of Norwich, has asked that the two academies now start actively planning to become on all through school, taking children from the age of three to 6  years and opening at the latest by September 2023.

"It is our intention to achieve this by September 2022."

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As part of the plans, the two schools restructured their leadership team in the summer, with Rob Connelly appointed executive headteacher for both academies in September 2021.

He said: "The Harleston Federation represents a very significant milestone for this very special community.

"The future of both schools and ultimately the formation of an all through school will be supported by ensuring exceptional staff provide the foundations and consistency required to experience life in all its fullness."

Speaking in September, Mr Cranmer said of the proposals: "We believe that by closer working together, we can secure an exciting and successful future for all children from three to 16 years of age and strive to provide excellent working conditions and career opportunities for all staff.”

The schools will continue to be part of the St Benet's MAT, which is responsible for eight Norfolk academies in total.