THE former Birkenhead High School for Girls is to cater for large numbers of pupils from deprived backgrounds, a new report reveals.
The prestigious, fee-paying, selective school became Birkenhead High School Academy (BHSA) in September, 2009, despite the council making it clear that, in an era of surplus places, it did not want another state girls school.
Now, in the council’s business plan for the multi-million pound remodelling of the Academy, it pledges the school will play its part in the borough’s education strategy by taking on children from poor surrounding areas.
It reads: “The Academy is situated within easy walking distance of many of Wirral’s most deprived young people.
“Historically, the former fee-paying independent school has not served such a community, but combined with excellent facilities and the academy’s traditional ethos of high expectation, could be instrumental in transforming opportunities for a large number of deprived girls.”
The decision to create the Academy gave education bosses in Wirral a logistical headache as Prenton Girls school already existed – ranked “outstanding” by Ofsted.
The document also begins the tendering process for a new-build 750-place boys Academy which has been proposed for Birkenhead.
Cabinet member for Children’s Services and Lifelong Learning, Cllr Phil Davies, said no decision had yet been made on this Academy, but it had been necessary to instigate the tendering programme at the same time as that of BHSA, as it was a government requirement and kept the option open.
Referring to BHSA’s intake, he said: “By and large it will be opened to an all-ability intake which will be a revolution for them.
“That was one of the big selling points that this was a school that had an excellent reputation but would be free for the first time broadly getting rid of selection – apart from 10% by aptitude.