BOTH Winsford high schools are to close down to make way for an academy.

A ten-form entry academy and sixth form will replace the present Verdin and Woodford Lodge Federated High Schools by as early as September.

The £20million school will accommodate 1,500 high school pupils and 200 sixth formers and is expected to be built on a site behind the Verdin exchange – once earmarked for the all-through school.

Initially, however, it will run from the existing school sites.

An academy is a school that is run by central government rather than the local authority. They are traditionally used to replace schools with low academic achievement, or schools situated in communities with little or no academic aspirations.

The scheme will be jointly delivered by Cheshire West and Chester Council and education foundation EACT, Clr Arthur Harada, executive member for children’s services at CWAC, said: “The time scale is remarkably tight but we are determined to meet deadlines for a project which will transform standards of learning and achievement in Winsford”.

Sir Bruce Liddington, director general of EACT, added: “Development of an academy in Winsford will make a real difference to standards of education and learning available to local youngsters.

“It will also provide excellent new facilities to benefit students and the local community for decades to come.”

The organisations will work closely with the stakeholders including colleges, The University of Chester and other local primary and special schools.

A six-week consultation programme on the closure of Woodford Lodge and Verdin – which was placed into special measures by Ofsted last year – will get underway this month.

Lack of available central funding ruled out Cheshire County Council’s original plan for a £73 million all-through school which would have included pupils from primary to sixth-form level.

But CWAC education chiefs are still hoping that the academy could still be the first stage of an eventual ‘all-through education concept’, which will include special schools and special needs pupils.