MP and top councillor join Sherington teachers to oppose academy plan

Sherington Primary School
The future of Sherington School is being discussed

Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook and Greenwich Council’s deputy leader David Gardner have joined teachers in opposing plans for Sherington Primary School to become an academy.

Letters from Pennycook and Gardner were given to parents outside the school gate today, urging them to think carefully about the school’s plans for the future – and pointing out that once a school becomes an academy, it can’t switch back to council control if anything goes wrong.

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(Read the letters from Matt Pennycook and David Gardner.)

Pennycook said “I know of no pressing challenges that require the school to change its existing structure” while Gardner wrote: “Academisation is 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.”

It was revealed in September that the school was talking to the Leigh and Compass academy trusts about joining them, and Rochester-based Leigh is now seen as the likely choice.

Teachers have already written to its governing body outlining their concerns at plans for the school to explore joining Leigh, which runs Crown Woods Academy in Eltham, Halley Academy in Kidbrooke (the old Corelli College/Kidbrooke School) and the new Leigh Academy Blackheath.

The signatories – understood to be the full teaching staff except for the school’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and some teaching assistants – say that they have not yet been included in “an open discussion with the SLT” and that they are “nervous” about the proposed. The Charlton Champion understands that the teachers have not yet had a response to the letter.

Sherington did not respond to a request for comment, but the school recently published a set of FAQs about the proposals. This website understands that a decision on the school’s future is due to be made by the end of this term.

A petition asking for the school to kept under Greenwich Council control has over 900 signatures.

Parents raised the issue at the last full meeting of Greenwich Council. (Watch here.) Asked if he thought joining Leigh Academies Trust would be a “wise” idea, Gardner said: “I do not think it would be a wise choice to join a multi-academy trust.

“I’m not sure that Leigh Academies Trust is the best example of an academy trust in terms of its top-slice [the money the academy charges the school for its services] and its performance but that is a matter for the governors. I hope before they go down that road, they consult with parents and staff and fully take on board their views and have a ballot as well.”

Pressed on whether the council would hold a ballot itself, Gardner said it would be “supportive of extensive consultation… and would urge the governors to hold a ballot”.


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