BATLEY Grammar School is bidding to become the first private school in the region to become a state-funded academy.
Founded in 1612, it has blamed a falling role and the pressure of the recession on parents on the decision.
It has been a fee-paying school for 32 years with many students travelling from Huddersfield to attend.
The fees range from £2,025 per term to £2,859.
But headteacher Brigid Tuille says the move will allow it to return to the principals of its founder William Lee to provide a broad education for the Batley community.
Talks have already been held with the Department for Children, Schools and Families and it hopes to achieve academy status within the next two years.
Mrs Tuille said she thought the move could help turn Batley into an educational flagship.
And she said it was hoped to double the current student numbers of 350, for children aged between three and 18 years.
“Batley Grammar School has been part of the community for four centuries and it has only been totally independent and fee-paying for the last few decades. We still operate a generous bursaries scheme, but the recession has limited its scope and resources.
“We are not what many consider to be the ‘typical’ independent school, and our parents represent all sections of the community. Currently many parents struggle with school fees but becoming an academy could allow motivated parents and students to secure the experience of Batley Grammar School as envisaged by its founder.”
Academies were originally launched to transform inner-city schools, but since then many successful schools have become academies. They are funded directly by the Government but run by the independent sector.
The Academies programme was introduced in March 2000 and the first Academy projects were announced in September that year.
Mrs Tuille said many new academies cost in excess of £30 million to create but Batley already had well maintained buildings and modern facilities, and a capacity to expand if necessary.
“In a region with increasing unemployment, and in some areas, poor social cohesion we would want to work with our neighbouring schools to provide more opportunities. A thriving educational environment, especially if we build on our strengths in maths, sciences and computing, could be an instrument in encouraging new employers to locate in the town, she said.
“Our parents choose Batley Grammar School for all the right reasons. These include excellence of educational provision and a safe and happy environment for their children. We see no reason why we could not offer that in the maintained sector.”