COUNCILLORS have launched a special probe into radical changes at Huddersfield schools.

Several schools around the town are in the process of converting to academies.

The move would take them outside the influence of Kirklees Council, allow them to change staff pay and conditions and give them the chance to change their curricula.

Governors at Salendine Nook High decided this week to convert to an academy on December 1.

Moor End Technology College in Crosland Moor made the switch last month while Lindley Junior School, Shelley College and Rastrick High are also in the process of changing to academies.

Kirklees announced yesterday that it would launch a special investigation into the conversions after complaints from some parents that the consultation has been rushed.

The council’s Scrutiny Management Committee has set up a task group to look into the issue.

Committee chairman Clr Nigel Patrick said: “I hope governing body representatives will come along and talk to the Scrutiny Task Group about the challenges they have faced and the lessons learned.

“We would also like to talk to schools who have already made the transition to academies, to see what consultation process they used.”

The scrutiny investigation cannot delay or halt schools from becoming academies as the final decision on switching over lies with governors.

For more information about the task group’s meetings call 01484 221916 or visit

Meanwhile, the Government this week announced that the number of academies in England has passed the 800 mark.

One in five secondary schools in the country has made the switch since the system was introduced in 2000.

The coalition Government announced last year that all schools rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted would be pre-approved for conversion – a change designed to speed up the process.

Ninety-seven schools have made the switch in the last month – the equivalent of four for every school day.

More than a third of all secondary schools are academies or are in the process of converting.

Schools minister Lord Hill said yesterday: “One in five secondary schools now enjoy the freedoms that academy status brings – with hundreds more in the pipeline.

“I am particularly pleased that through the academies programme some of our best headteachers are reaching out to other schools, working with them to raise standards for local children.

“The best way of improving schools is by getting professionals who have already done an excellent job to spread their expertise.”