Monday, 7 March 2011

Claremont becoming an academy? What do parents think?

Education unions are holding a meeting for Claremont High School parents on Wednesday 9th March at 7pm  ahead of a governing body meeting on Thursday which may take the first steps to the school seeking academy status. Mr Malloy, the headteacher, tried to make the move last June but was thwarted. LINK

The unions claim that the outcome of a ballot of school staff (teaching and non-teaching), overseen by the Electoral Reform Society,  has not been notified to parents. They say this is wrong and that parents should be told what staff think and have notified parents of the ballot result - 70% of staff against conversion to an academy - in a leaflet given out at the school gate today.

The leaflet says that children have been told academy status is a 'good idea' but they have not been given both side of the argument. It goes on to claim that Mr Malloy, headteacher, has threatened staff with 20 redundancies if academy status does not go ahead.

The unions say that there should be proper consultation with parents and that they too should have a ballot on the issue. They believe that the governing body cannot make an informed decision until this has been done. There will be a lobby of the governing body at the school on Thursday at 7pm.

The meeting, at Kenton Methodist Church, Woodgrange Avenue, Kenton will be an open meeting and the headteacher and governors have been invited to attend. The unions promise that they will engage in open and factual debate.

The Claremont decision is vital as there is claimed to be an agreement amongst secondary headteachers in Brent that if one school goes for academy status, then they all will. They claim this will avoid competition and the decline of non-converting schools that happened in a previous era when some schools decided to go for grant-maintained status, achieving a degree of independence in management and admissions. This led to the destabilisation of Wembley High School and Willesden High School  which did not convert, with both receiving disproportionate numbers of refugee pupils and new arrivals. Willesden High School was declared a failing school and converted to a City Academy and Wembley struggled, eventually succeeding brilliantly, against the odds.

When schools become academies they get additional funding which would be taken away from Brent's main school budget. If all the secondary schools became academies Brent's funds would be drastically reduced impacting on primary school budgets and the central support services provided by the Council.  In addition all secondary schools in the borough would be out of local democratic control.

Note: The unions holding the meeting are ATL, GMB, NASUWT, NUT and UNISON.

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