CHESHIRE East has given the go ahead for all legal, land and shared use agreements to be signed off so Middlewich High School can convert to an academy.

The school will become part of the Multi Academy Trust (MAT), The Sir John Brunner Foundation, on or after November 1.

Headteacher Heidi Thurland told the council’s children and families committee on Wednesday: “It's our [headteacher and governors] absolute belief that this is entirely the right decision for young people and will improve the educational standards in the community.”

Kerry Kirkwood, chief executive of the Foundation, told the meeting: “The trustees of the Sir John Brunner Foundation are very excited at the prospect of Middlewich High School joining us, not least because of the richness that they can bring us, and not least because we think that working in partnership will make the Sir John Brunner Foundation better and stronger and, hopefully, add a great deal of value to the school and crucially to the experience of children and families in Middlewich.”

The Department for Education had already given approval for the school to convert to academy status and, usually, academy conversions are delegated to Cheshire East officers to finalise.

But the conversion of Middlewich High School is complex because of the interests of third parties in the school and in Middlewich Leisure Centre and so the decision had to made by a committee.

Cllr George Hayes (Congleton West, Con) did raise concerns over the length of the leisure centre five year underlease, asking if it could be extended.

Cllr June Buckley (Alsager, Lib Dem) also sought assurances the council’s legal team was satisfied with the arrangements.

“I’d just like to check that the legal team here, you're happy with absolutely everything that's been drafted out,” she said.

Deputy monitoring officer Deborah Nickson confirmed the legal officers were satisfied with the terms.

She said it was a very complex set of circumstances and the agreement had been put together ‘in a way that protects the council's interests, and in a way that protects the academy trust’s interests’.