Adahemy status will enable Devizes School to improve further, says head- teacher Malcolm Irons.

Academy schools were set up by the Government for schools rated as good and outstanding. Schools that do convert have freedom from local authority control and from following the National Curriculum, and receive some funding that would otherwise have gone to the local authority.

Devizes School was granted permission to become an academy on September 1 by the Department for Education.

Mr Irons said there would be no radical changes at the 1,250-pupil school as a result of its new status.

But he said: “Academy status gives us greater freedom to continue to develop our successful and innovative curriculum to further ensure that every student achieves even more than they ever thought possible.”

Mr Irons said the school would develop closer collaborative working relationships with primary schools in the Devizes area as well as the North Wiltshire Federation of Secondary Schools. Devizes School already works with primary schools as part of its specialist school status, which it gained in 2004.

Mr Irons said: “There is a strong collaboration that will continue with local primary schools.

“We are looking forward to that collaboration becoming more significant as we all have to work together.

“It provides a fantastic opportunity for the school to build on its recent exam success, which saw A-level students achieving the best ever results for the school and GCSE results exceeding all expectations.”

An example of the partnership is the publication of a brochure that highlights the qualities of each particular school in Devizes that will go to parents looking for suitable schools for their children.

Following the demise of the county council’s Young People’s Support Service, which helped pupils who had been excluded from school, Devizes School is now employing two new pastoral assistants and an inclusion co-ordinator.

“We will continue to buy from the local education authority – for example, payroll and human resources – but as an academy we relish the opportunity of being more independent and plotting our own course. “It’s like we have gone a la carte. Rather than having a set meal in a restaurant you can choose your own ingredients,” he said.

Building work is well underway on a new sixth form centre at the school, while the new intake of Year 7 pupils are wearing the school’s new uniform, designed by the pupils. The uniform includes blazer and tie and replaces the casual looking polo shirt and sweatshirt.

It becomes compulsory for all pupils to wear the new uniform in September next year but a number of pupils have decided to start wearing it now.