A HUDDERSFIELD school at the centre of speculation over an Academy bid has applied for specialist status.
And Fartown High School has revealed that a mystery benefactor has donated £23,000 to make the bid a reality.
The school wants to become a centre of excellence for humanities (English and drama) and science.
And headteacher Steve Britton has revealed that the bid - which needed £46,000 sponsorship - was only made possible by a last minute anonymous donation.
The other half of the cash has come from fundraising by students, sponsorship from local businesses and other events.
Mr Britton said: "The school has enjoyed tremendous results in all these areas. Our results and the quality of our staff will make the specialist college bid the success it deserves to be.
"The granting of specialist college status will help to enhance learning across both the school and the wider community and see Fartown High School continue its upward trend.
"The specialist college bid will also mean that the students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities across the school."
Fartown High is one of three Huddersfield schools mentioned in a report as part of a £200m bid by Kirklees Council to the government's Building Schools for the Future programme.
Fartown High, Rawthorpe High and All Saints' High School, near Bradley Bar, are mentioned as three potential schools on which an academy could be built, although no firm proposals have been made.
A separate academy is planned for Batley.
The school will have to wait until the new year to see if its bid for specialist status has been a success.
At the other end of the country though the story couldn't be more different.
Head of Hurworth School Eamonn Farrar is rightly proud that his school has massively improved its exam results - despite taking in many children from Darlington estates which are among the country's toughest.
More than 90% of Hurworth's pupils now get five or more A to C grades at GCSE - way up from 38% in 1998.
In fact the school was so successful that Mr Farrar, who has been head teacher for eleven years, was asked to step in and run neighbouring Eastbourne School when it failed its Ofsted inspection in 2004.
But this is when the trouble started.
Mr Farrar said: "I was head teacher of both schools for a year, which was a great success, but after that Darlington Council wanted us to merge and become an academy."
This outraged Mr Farrar whose staff would have to apply for jobs at the new school.
He said: "I didn't have a single teacher who was in favour of the move."
And Mr Farrar also feared an academy would reflect the prejudices of whichever business person invested in it.
He said: "I don't want to work with other governors and I don't want to be told what should be in the curriculum.
"It's wrong to say that I don't want creationists running our school - the fact is I don't want any religious group in charge."
Parents set up a group to fight the move, briefing the press, lobbying councillors and securing a meeting in March with their local MP - who just happens to be the Prime Minister.
Mr Farrar said: "We got a phone call from Tony Blair saying that we needed to resolve the problem."
The council decided to go ahead with the academy in Eastbourne, Darlington, leaving Hurworth to continue as a comprehensive.
Mr Farrar agreed that his school's experience could have lessons for Kirklees.
He said: "If it suits your particular circumstances in Huddersfield to have an academy then go for it. But if you don't want one then get up and fight.
"We did and we won."
THE first academy school was opened in 2002 and there are now 46 nationwide in areas of social deprivation and low educational standards.
Private sponsors - businesses, religions or community groups - give a maximum of £2m in return for a large degree of control over the school's curriculum, ethos and staffing.
A House of Commons select committee found last year that academies had largely won the support of pupils and parents but they still faced "significant problems", including widespread bullying and inappropriate buildings.
Kirklees Council plans to create two academies - costing up to £200m - in Batley and Huddersfield.
In Batley the future of four schools - the Girl's High School, Business & Enterprise College, Birkdale High and Madni Muslim Girls' High - is under review.
Building could begin as early as 2008.
In Huddersfield, All Saints' Catholic College at Bradley Bar, Fartown High School and Rawthorpe High School could face the axe or be merged - but this may take up to a decade.
* Academies are publicly-funded independent schools expected to be set up as companies limited by guarantee with charitable status.
* Sponsors make decisions about an academy's vision and ethos.
* Academies are required to teach a balanced curriculum that meets the requirements of the National Curriculum. They have additional freedoms and flexibilities to use innovative approaches in areas such as leadership, organisation and the curriculum.