FEEDBACK has been 'very positive' following a consultation about Okehampton College becoming a co-operative trust school, the principal Daryll Chapman said this week.

The college will now enter a statutory period where parents, students, the community and other groups with interest in the school, will have a further opportunity to give their views, before a final decision is made by the governors.

If it goes ahead, the college would continue to be funded by the local authority but would be supported by a charitable trust, whose key aim would be to achieve the best possible outcome for students by engaging with the wider community.

The governing body would continue to be responsible for running the college and teachers would be employed on the same terms and conditions.

Staff would be employed by the governing body not the local authority and the college buildings and grounds would be held by the trust.

Mr Chapman said the statutory period of notification would last until the first week in September, allowing another opportunity for feedback.

He said:?'The feedback we have had so far has been very positive — we are very encouraged by that.

'If the decision is made to go ahead we will change the status of the college to a trust in November.'

Mr Chapman said the college was opposed to academy status where schools became independent of the local education authority.

There are fears that academy schools break up the co-operative nature of the learning community and education becomes a business.

'We went this way because the world is changing very quickly. Academy status is really being pushed at the moment but we do not agree with it.

'We have a desire to stay with the LEA as we have worked very closely with it for years and years. We want to preserve that and a lot of people feel passionate about this.

'The college has been going through a purple patch in terms of results and the school standing and we want to make sure we are still in a position to stay in control. One of the benefits of trust status is that it keeps autonomy.'

Initially, the trust would have two partners besides the Co-operative Movement: Okehampton United Charity and Devon County Council, represented by the local ward member.

As the trust develops over time other partners may join, including local businesses and organisations.

The decision made by the governors will be across a federation of schools which include Exbourne, Boasley Cross, Bridestowe and Lydford.