St John’s School in Marlborough has learned today that its application for academy status has been successful.

Academy status for St John’s was confirmed in a letter from the Education Secretary Michael Gove.

It has taken the school 18 months to get its application approved because it currently has an overdraft as a result of its ambitious £26 million rebuilding programme.

However today’s green light from the Department for Education means that headteacher Dr Patrick Hazlewood can press ahead with his plans to create the Excalibur Acadamies Trust, which will run St John’s and some local primary schools.

The idea behind the Excalibur Trust came from a two-day conference on the future of education in Marlborough.

Some parents have children at St Mary’s Infants School, St Peter’s Primary School and surrounding primary schools as well as St John’s and the new trust would try to establish a holistic approach to education in the area.

Dr Hazlewood said: “Small rural primary schools are in danger because of falling rolls but we strongly believe that village communities depend on their schools.”

Governors from St John’s together with Dr Hazlewood met with Education Under Secretary Lord Hill in January 2011 to press for the school’s application for academy status to be approved and they were delighted at today’s news.

The new status will attract extra Government funding of about £450,000 a year towards St John’s £8million annual running costs and academy school gives the chance to control its own curriculum.

However the curriculum benefit is neither here nor there, said Dr Hazlewood: “To all intents and purposes we control our own curriculum at the moment.

“The big benefit of academy status is that we can create a trust able to deliver education to the children of Marlborough and district from the pre-school to university.”