THE sponsors behind Bushey Hall School’s transformation into one of Hertfordshire’s first two academies have been revealed.

David Meller, the former vice chairman of Watford Football Club, will oversee the closure of the 800 student secondary school in August 2009, and its reopening as The Bushey Academy in September 2009.

If final approval is given by the Secretary of State, Mr Meller, who co-owns the retail company Julius Meller, will lead the academy and provide about £2 million in funds for its development.

He will be joined by educational co-sponsors Middlesex University and Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden, forming a trust that will appoint staff and manage the academy, its curriculum and the redevelopment of buildings.

A businesss and communication specialism has also been revealed for the academy leaning a general national curriculum towards business studies, information technology and languages.

Mr Meller showed interest in the project following his role as one of the lead sponsors of the sport specialised, Watford Football Club sponsored Harefield Academy.

Graham Yapp, headteacher of Bushey Hall School, said: “The sponsors have already started to work well together and I am very pleased we can share this news about the direction of the school.

“I know David Meller is looking forward to bringing his skills, experience with academies and business contacts for the benefit of the current and future pupils of the school.”

In March 2008, Bushey Hall School was placed under special measures following a highly critical report from education watchdog Ofsted.

Lynn Gadd, principle of the Harefield Academy, said the parents of Bushey Hall’s students should not fear any “strange interference” or selection rules once Mr Meller he takes over but should look forward to major improvements in results and facilities.

She said the Harefield Academy’s predecessor, the John Penrose School, had struggled with its academic record and attendence, a situation she said changed once Mr Meller and the other sponsors got involved.

She said: “He has a real sense of what a student should be like. That they shouldn’t be arrogant but should be proud of their achievements.

“It's a simple formula but he creates excellent aspirations.”

She said one aspect of Mr Meller’s involvement that would particularly benefit The Bushey Academy was the business contacts and experience opportunities he brought with him.

Alongside changes to the curriculum and management of the school, Mr Yapp said it was “likely there would be a major refurbishment or rebuild” at Bushey Hall, this rebuild being overseen by architects and designers chosen by the sponsorship trust and the Department for Children, School and Familes.

If the plans go ahead, the launch of The Bushey Academy will coincide with the transformation of Francis Combe School into an academy sponsored by West Herts College and the University of Hertfordshire.

Parents and students have been invited to a consultation demonstrating plans for this Francis Combe academy which will take place at the school, in Horseshoe Lane, Garston, between 7pm and 8.30pm on Thursday, October 23, and between 6.30pm and 8pm on Thursday, November 6.

If final approval is given, the Francis Combe academy will be a non-selective school, serving more than 1,000 11-16 year olds and up to 300 sixth-form students. It will specialise in English, art and media.