Sherington Primary School’s governors scrap academy plan

Sherington Primary School
Sherington’s governors came to their decision yesterday

Governors at Sherington Primary School have scrapped plans to break away from council control and become an academy, parents have been told this morning.

Teachers and local councillors had campaigned against the proposal, which would have seen the highly-regarded school join the Leigh Academies Trust chain.

But a letter from the school’s governing body states that while the school faces “challenges” in the future, “we are better placed to address them as a local authority maintained school than as part of the Leigh Academies Trust”.

The school will now remain controlled by Greenwich Council – and be directly funded by it – rather than breaking away and joining the Kent-based Leigh chain, and getting its cash from central government.

The letter says: “We promised to make this choice in the best interests of children now and in the future. That meant choosing the option that gave us the best prospect of financial sustainability and stability; the strongest opportunities for the recruitment, retention and development of high quality staff; and the best chance of delivering a sustainable school in a changing environment. The Governing Body has concluded that while these challenges remain, we are better placed to address them as a local authority maintained school than as part of the Leigh Academies Trust.

“Sherington is a great school, but there is some hard work to be done to make sure we stay that way and remain fit for the future. Working in partnerships with other schools and organisations is already an important part of the school’s operating model, and will become more so. We look forward to working closely with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and to making the most of the partnership opportunities and other support they can provide.

“We would like to thank the staff of the Leigh Academies Trust for the candid and helpful information they have provided and also the parents, carers and staff who have asked questions, presented views and taken part in an emotive debate over the last few weeks.

“This has not been an easy process by any means, but it’s important that we are able to show our Sherington children that we can have difficult conversations and conduct them in a courteous, respectful and positive way.”

Documents outlining how the governors came to their decision have been published on the school website.

Parents had feared that teachers would take strike action if the school had opted to become an academy, with the issue also causing strains inside Greenwich Council: last week deputy leader David Gardner apologised to Leigh, which runs 18 schools in SE London and Kent, for criticism of its academic results in a letter sent to parents.

Teachers had also raised concerns about the plans, along with local MP Matt Pennycook. A petition against the proposal, handed in earlier this week, had over 900 signatures.

Friday update:
Local Democracy Reporter Tom Bull writes: Greenwich Council deputy leader and cabinet member for education David Gardner said: “It is brilliant and very welcome news that Sherington Primary School governing body has voted to continue as an outstanding Greenwich community school.

“Governors decisively rejected academisation and, after a long and rigorous process evaluating all the options, and decided the best partnership remained with the borough.

“My personal congratulations to the parents, staff and Charlton community who campaigned so effectively to stay ‘Greenwich and proud’.”


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