Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Claremont Announces Academy Conversion

The unions opposed to Claremont High School are currently deciding on future action on what they regard as a flawed consultation process which denied parents the right to a debate about the issue and a secret, independently run ballot.  Meanwhile the school has posted the following notice on its website about the Governing Body's decision to convert to an academy.
The Governors of Claremont High School have written to staff and parents at the school informing them of the decision expressing their thanks for the range of responses that they have received both for and against the conversion.

The Governors have clearly stated the principles that they applied in reaching their decision. These were:
  • The decision must be made with the pupils at the centre of the process so that their happiness at school and continued success should be assured.
  • Governors will take full advantage of the opportunities that conversion will bring and also know and act on the new responsibilities.
  • Governors will support current staffing levels and ensure that resources are in place to recruit the best teachers and support staff.
  • Governors will work closely with the school's leadership team to ensure continued strong financial management so that its students continue to have access to excellent resources and excellent opportunities to enrich their learning.
  • Claremont high School will not change its name or its ethos; it will not change its admissions criteria without due process and it will remain within the Brent family of schools.
  • Claremont High School will continue to offer the breadth of subjects that it currently offers to ensure that all of its pupils, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities, will reach their full potential.
We believe that whilst this is a significant decision for our school it is one that will bring many opportunities, benefits and advantages to our pupils. We will remain focused on creating a harmonious learning culture; developing our approaches to care, guidance and support; challenging our pupils to achieve and grow and our teachers to be at the top of their game in teaching and learning. In short, all those things that have made us Outstanding.
The  statement does not directly address the concerns of parents and unions and ignores any mention of the impact conversion will make on Brent's overall education budget. Basically Claremont will get  additional money taken from the budget for all schools. There is no mention of the loss of democratic accountability to the wider community. At the briefing meeting for headteachers and governors held last year after the local elections, Councillor Mary Arnold, lead member for Children and Families, made her opposition to academies clear but Krutica Pau, Director of Children and Families said her department would adopt a neutral position.

The headteacher of Claremont has already stated that the school is already in a 'market' situation and the question now arises about what action other Brent secondary schools will take. There were reports last year that the secondary headteachers had informally decided that the schools would all convert at once, to avoid damage to those who didn't convert or converted later. Recently it has been said that the rest were waiting to see  what happened to Claremont before acting.  A mass conversion (sorry about the religious overtones) would mean Brent council would only be responsible for nursery and primary schools which would operate on  significantly reduced  funding with the education budget top-sliced by the new academies.

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