Updated story: A row has broken out about the future of Sherington Primary School after a teaching union revealed it was in talks about possibly becoming an academy.
The school is currently under Greenwich Council control, but the National Education Union – the successor to the old National Union of Teachers – says it is due to start talks with the Leigh and Compass academy trusts.
In a letter issued to parents on Tuesday, the school has confirmed it is considering its future arrangements because “we can’t sit back and let the future take care of itself”.
One angry parent, Vicky Makepeace, has organised a meeting for fellow parents at Charlton House this Thursday (27th) at 10am.
She says: “My older two boys did really well at Sherington and enjoyed their time there. I want my youngest two children to have that experience.
“Turning the school into an academy will take away parents’ rights, kids’ rights and teachers’ rights. The school is not underachieving, academies don’t care about children with special needs, these kids will get pushed out by the academy or they will not support them. Sherington has caring teachers, support team and parents.”
‘No turning back’
Greenwich Council’s deputy leader David Gardner – who is also cabinet member for education – urged Sherington to stay with the council. He said the borough’s primary schools have “an excellent record” and Sherington had “thrived as an outstanding school rooted in the local community”.
He warned: “Academisation is not only a trip into the unknown, it is a one-way street with no turning back. If the academy chain fails, it just gets eaten up by another unaccountable chain. If the local council falls short in its support, we can be held to account; and as a community school it is run by its head and governors, not a remote chief executive.”
Leigh runs a number of schools and colleges in south-east London and north-west Kent, including Crown Woods Academy in Eltham, Halley Academy in Kidbrooke (the old Corelli College/Kidbrooke School) and the Leigh Academy Blackheath, which is due to take over the old Blackheath Bluecoat site. Compass runs schools in Greenwich borough including Halstow in east Greenwich, South Rise and Willow Dene in Plumstead and Wingfield in Kidbrooke.
The union says there are no plans to consult staff, and a decision could be made as soon as November.
‘Outstanding primary school’
Asked for comment on the story, Sherington head Karen Dennett sent The Charlton Champion a letter which has been issued to parents, inviting them to a presentation from an “independent education advisor” on 17 October.
It reads: “Sherington is an outstanding primary school. Our children make excellent academic progress, as shown by our results, and our broad curriculum fosters creativity and confidence.
“We’re determined to maintain our high standards, so we can’t sit back and let the future take care of itself. The Governing Body and Senior Leadership Team are obliged to keep their eyes on the horizon and set a strategic direction in the best interests of the school.
“With this in mind, the Governing Body and Senior Leadership team have been reviewing some alternative models for the way the school could in future be structured and funded.”
It adds that it hopes to make a decision by Christmas.
Academisation – where schools receive their funding directly from central government rather than a local council – has shot up the local political agenda in recent months after John Roan School in Blackheath was ordered to become an academy after being judged to be “inadequate” by inspectors from Ofsted. Campaigners are currently fighting the order, which would see it link up with the Mile End-based University Schools Trust chain, which runs the Greenwich Trust School on Woolwich Road.
(Story updated at 4pm on Tuesday to include Sherington’s confirmation and its letter to parents.)
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