Updated: THE decision by two York schools to move towards gaining academy status has been branded “regrettable” and “rushed”.

Archbishop Holgate’s CE School and Manor CE School are among 153 schools across the UK who have applied to opt out of local authority control and focus on becoming independent bodies, according to the Department for Education.

But Coun Roger Pierce, education spokesman for City of York Council’s Labour group, said he feared it would break up the “York family of schools” and that more pupils across the city could lose out, especially if other schools take the same route.

“We feel the academies legislation will create a two-tier education system in the city,” he said.

“The increase in the number of sixth forms at a time of falling school pupil numbers will reduce numbers in existing post-16 schools and institutions, meaning higher costs and reduced ranges of curriculum choice as some existing courses become unavailable. The individual schools may gain, but collectively York pupils will lose out.

“While we will respect the schools’ decisions, there is no doubt this is being rushed through and neither parents with children at these schools, nor the wider community and prospective future parents, have had any say over whether this is what they want.”

Coun Pierce also feared the academy system would lead to council-run support systems for schools being harmed, and said he was concerned other schools would feel they had no choice but to follow suit.

Should the schools succeed in becoming academies, they will be allowed to set their own pay levels and working conditions, but will first have to prove to Education Secretary Michael Gove they are suitable candidates.

Fulford and Huntington Schools and Burnholme Community College have also expressed an interest in becoming academies, but have not submitted formal applications.

Labour group leader Coun James Alexander has written to the chairs of governors at both Archbishop Holgate and Manor Schools to ask them to continue to co-operate with other secondary schools in the future.