THE town’s newest academy trust will be responsible for 6,000 children and 900 staff at eight Warrington schools.

Plans for Priestley College, Penketh High, Sir Thomas Boteler Church of England High, Beamont Collegiate Academy, Bridgewater High, Great Sankey Primary and Penketh South Primary schools to team up have been approved by the government.

And all eyes are on Warrington as The Challenge Academy Trust becomes one of the biggest and most inclusive trusts in the country.

It is among the first to include a faith school, sixth form college and primary schools but head teachers have said there will be no feeder schools, meaning pupils at schools in the trust will not be given priority for places.

Andy Moorcroft, principal at Beamont Collegiate Academy, said: “Parents understandably want to know how this can benefit young people.

“There’s been some stories that concern people, like news about highly paid academy chiefs. Some worried there would be a restructuring that would cause disruption but there will be no change to teachers.

“There were also concerns about schools losing their identity. We will all be retaining our own ethos and uniforms.”

Matthew Grant of Priestley College will be CEO of the trust but said it will be a voluntary position as he feels strongly against unjustifiably high salaries for academy leaders.

And teachers say children are also looking forward to being part of the trust, as head teacher Vicky Briggs from Great Sankey Primary said: “Our pupils are really excited about getting together with the other schools and being part of a student council.”

The head teachers said the main benefits will be financial savings, a focus on improving schools and giving youngsters more opportunities both in lessons and outside of classes.

Mr Grant revealed the trust has already been approached by a leading university and companies hoping to work with pupils.

Trainee teachers are also set to benefit from broader learning opportunities and jobs.

Sir Thomas Boteler head teacher Beverley Scott-Herron added: “There have been challenges but that is only right. We have a duty to do our best for young people.”

And Ben Dunne, principal at Penketh High, said: “’These are exciting opportunities for schools and colleges both within TCAT and beyond.”