Northampton School for Boys will re-open to pupils returning from their summer holidays tomorrow as the town's first independent academy, after being granted Government approval to take on the new status.
Earlier this year governors at the school in Billing Road voted unanimously to take advantage of education secretary Michael Gove's offer to bid for the "freedoms" of academies status, a bid that was approved this week, just in time for the start of the new school term tomorrow.
The school, consistently one of the best performing and most over-subscribed schools in the county, is one of 142 schools in the first wave of educational establishments to be granted the new status, which will allow them to be responsible for determining their own curriculum, examinations and staff pay and conditions.
Headteacher Mike Griffiths said he was "delighted" with the news but admitted it had not been a straightforward journey. He told the Chronicle & Echo: "We were always fairly confident we would come through and would meet the time scale.
"But there's been a lot of legal things along the way and it's not been the most straightforward of processes.
"This is the first time anyone has done this and we're pioneers so there's been quite a lot of thinking through as we've gone along and it's been quite a torturous route.
"Several colleagues have spent most of the summer holidays at school sorting things out but we're delighted to be through it now and a bona fide academy at the end of it."
Mr Griffiths said there would be no immediate changes at the school as a result of its new status, aside from the fact it will now be funded directly from central government, rather than by Northamptonshire County Council.
He said: "We will still have the same buildings, the same name, the same staff, the same students, the same admissions arrangements and the same curriculum."
"Our beliefs haven't changed. We still believe we need to have high expectations, to stretch our pupils and to give them challenges, as well as have a core curriculum that gives access to the full range of possibilities when they get to the age of 16."
"We believe we are in the best position to make the right decisions for the students of this school, rather than someone at Whitehall or County Hall or wherever else. We're quite happy to be held accountable for the education we provide," he added.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: "The council congratulates Northampton School for Boys on becoming the first school in Northamptonshire to secure academy status under the new Coalition Government's academies arrangements.
"We were pleased to be able to assist NSB in achieving a September start date under the accelerated process.
"This week we have also received the news that the funding agreement has been signed for the Malcolm Arnold Academy in Northampton, formerly Unity College.
"A key focus for the council is to further raise standards and improve achievements of children and young people and it welcomes these additions to the diversity of provision within the county."
Top town school is now academy
By Helen Buckingham