Friday 14 February 2014

Feisty parents fight off forced academy conversion

In a victory that may have wider repercussions for schools facing forced academisation, St James' Church of England School in Gloucester have been told that it will not face academy conversion for the foreseeable future.

Parents at St James' have been campaigning vociferously over the issue. Recently Michael Gove has not be very pleased with Ofsted Inspection reports that have noted forced academisation takes schools' attention away from getting out of special measures. The problem is referred to here.

A letter from the school on February 12th stated:
Since receiving the Academy Order which was referred to in my last letter, the governing body, Local Authority and Diocese have collectively sought approval from the Department for Education (DfE) to defer the academy conversion process for the foreseeable future. I'm please to be able to tell you that yesterday we received formal notification that the request has been approved.

The specific reasons for the agreement is that the DfE have acknowledged that the school needs to prioritise coming out of special measures and would have been distracted from this by the amount of administration involved in academy conversion. In addition, the Local Authority has yet to complete its audit which determines whether additional school places may be needed in the city for 2016 and beyond.

Governors acknowledge that some parents have expressed their concerns about academy consultation. Please be assured that all parents, as well as other local stakeholders, will be fully consulted about future plans for thye school once the Local Authority have undertaken this work. 
The letter goes on to invite  parents to hear about the latest HMI monitoring report at the meeting which was to be held about academy consultation.

The letter concludes:
We do hope that as a community we can now all collectively focus on the immediate priority - to ensure that St James' moves out of 'special measures' and appoint a sunstantive headteacher with the energy and ambition to ensure that St James' is the school of choice for parents in this locality. 
The St James' Campaign  Facebook was jubilant with this heartfelt message posted about one of the leading campaigners:
You are a true inspiration to others your drive passion and fight for a cause you believe in have done you proud you are a woman to aspire too who has gone to extraordinary lengths to fight for Save St James....since September you took this on as a full time job as well as being a full time mum and all the voluntary work you do to help others...even when you were at your lowest point kicked in the teeth by the very people that are in charge of our children you never gave up hope...may your children also see you for the remarkable strong and dedicated woman that you are...a true fighter to the end!!!! so proud of you and may many children benefit from this x x
Congratulations. I hope Brent and other local authorities and governing bodies will note the importance of standing together against forced academisation and getting behind parent campaigns..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

' ...some parents have expressed their concerns about academy consultation. Please be assured that all parents, as well as other local stakeholders, will be fully consulted about future plans for thye(sic) school...'
Parents would be wise to check that this 'consultation' amounts to something more than being notified of a fait accompli and then, after a few weeks have elapsed to lend a spurious legitimacy, having the report of the 'consultation' written up by the party having most to gain from a particular conclusion (the whole thing then being rubber-stamped by another party with a vested interest in that same outcome).
This was the Copland experience.
As the lady said: 'if consultations changed anything they wouldn't let you have them'.