Sunday 15 January 2023

BREAKING: Capital City Academy in Brent to be taken over by Harris Federation Academy Trust chain

Capital City Academy (Photo: Foster & Partners)

This is the announcement posted on City Academy's website on  Friday. It will be the first Harris Academy in Brent. Questions are likely to follow about how a major school in the borough can be taken over by an academy chain without any apparent reference to teacher trade unions, local residents or the local authority.

Capital City Academy, a successful secondary school in Brent, has announced its intention to join academy trust the Harris Federation, from September 2023.

Founded more than 30 years ago by Lord Harris of Peckham, the Harris Federation runs 52 primary and secondary academies in and around London. Two-thirds of Harris secondary academies are rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted – compared to less than a fifth nationally – and they receive around four applications from parents for every place available.

Capital City Academy was founded by sponsor Sir Frank Lowe in 2004, who built a state-of-the-art school, designed by world famous architect Lord Foster, on the site of failing Willesden High School. The school has thrived and provides exceptional facilities and an environment that nurtures academic, artistic and sporting success.

Sir Frank Lowe said:

Sponsoring and opening this academy has been a very fulfilling personal achievement for me. I first became involved because I wanted to give something back and, in the nearly twenty years that have followed, I have greatly enjoyed seeing our pupils flourish. I am forever grateful to the children, families, staff and governors who have shared my vision and helped make the academy what it is today.

I have long admired the Harris Federation, an academy trust known for consistently brilliant outcomes for pupils.  The idea of joining was initiated by the 2022 Schools White Paper, which called for every Single Academy Trust to be in or on its way to joining a Multi-Academy Trust by 2030. After meeting the Harris Federation, I clearly saw many benefits and opportunities, and strongly felt joining was in the best interests of the school.  I am also keen for the academy to have the stability that comes with being part of a successful larger trust – particularly in these uncertain economic times. Capital City Academy is a thriving school, but it can achieve even more as part of a like-minded group, dedicated to providing opportunity for all pupils to reach their full potential

As part of the Harris Federation, Capital City Academy will have access to a consultant team of 70 leading subject specialists whose job is to create excellence in every component of the curriculum.

Pupils from the academy will participate in initiatives such as the Harris Experience, designed to broaden the cultural and academic experiences of the most academically promising young people, and which has helped ensure Harris pupils now attend Russell Group universities at a rate of more than twice the national average.  

The Harris Federation will provide training, support and career development opportunities for staff as well as expert, hands-on teams in finance, estates, IT, HR and recruitment, freeing up teachers and leaders to focus on one thing and one thing only: the outstanding education of their pupils. 

Sir Dan Moynihan, CEO of the Harris Federation, said:

We are very pleased to be welcoming Capital City Academy to our Federation and know we can help it continue to deliver Sir Frank’s original vision for the school, which was to help ensure local children had access to the best quality educational opportunities. It is a successful school, and we are looking forward to working with students, staff, parents and governors to ensure a smooth and collaborative transition in time for the next academic year.

Capital City Academy came out of Labour Party support for academisation of 'failing schools'. Harris Federation was started by Carpetright millionaire Lord Harris of Peckham (knighted by Margaret Thatcher and made a lord by John Major).  The Harris Federation does not provide trade union facility time.

Harris Federation accounts LINK.

Jenny Cooper, co-secretary of Brent Education Union said:

The NEU are extremely concerned to hear this news second- hand and look forward to being invited to a consultation. We will support our members to exercise their rights to TUPE and a full and thorough consultation.

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