Concerns raised about the independence of board appointed by Norfolk County Council to decide whether Cavell Primary School, Norwich, should become an academy

Simon Wright MP, chats with one of the campaign organisers, Tina Boulter, front, as concerned parents campaign to stop Cavell Primary school becoming an academy. Picture: Denise Bradley Simon Wright MP, chats with one of the campaign organisers, Tina Boulter, front, as concerned parents campaign to stop Cavell Primary school becoming an academy. Picture: Denise Bradley

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
9:07 AM

Parents fighting the possible academisation of a primary school have raised concerns about the independence of the new interim executive board appointed by Norfolk County Council to decide the school’s future.

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The council last month removed the governors of Cavell Primary in Norwich, which was put in special measures in May. The governors had opposed the council’s preference for it to become an academy, preferring instead to form a cooperative trust with nearby schools.

Now it has emerged the three members of the school’s new interim executive board (IEB) are being paid, unlike normal governors.

Chairman David Lennard Jones is a former council officer, while another member, Bev Hall, works for the council as an adviser. The third member, Paul Macardle, has not worked for the council.

The council said the government had decided the appointments were suitable and had sufficient distance from the local authority and school.

Rachel Ward, a member of the Save Cavell campaign group, said: “It’s certainly concerning. I honestly don’t know how impartial they are.

“It can certainly feel like they have been brought in to do the council’s bidding, although from the meetings we have had with [Mr Lennard Jones] he seemed to be asking questions of the council about the way things are being run as well as asking questions of the school, so he did seem to have some degree of independence.”

The council said the board members are carrying out the role as part of their day job, or are paid “a daily rate commensurate with that of a school improvement advisor”.

Mr Lennard Jones said: “Members of the Interim Executive Board were approached to take on an independent role on the basis of their professional experience and expertise. The fact that they are being paid to take on this challenging role has no bearing on their independence of thought and action.

“The IEB is taking a fresh look at all the issues and wants to hear the range of views about them. At this stage it has not formed a view on any of the proposals for structural change.”

He said the IEB will meet with proposers of both the trust and academy proposals, share its findings with parents and staff, and ask for views, and only then discuss “how best to ensure the long term prosperity of the school”.

Gordon Boyd, assistant director of children’s services, said: “Our priority is always to ensure the best for Norfolk’s children and if we do not believe a school has the capacity to make the necessary improvements we can apply to replace the governors with an IEB.

“When doing so we closely follow guidance from the Department for Education, which includes providing evidence that the proposed members of the board have the expertise and skill necessary to secure improvements at the school.

“Sometimes we will propose former employees as board members if we feel that they are the best possible candidate for a given school and have the knowledge and experience to ensure that the school can make the progress needed. However, it remains the Secretary of State’s decision about whether these candidates are suitable.”

Two of the four members of Stalham Junior School’s IEB are current or former council staff members, and two of the three members of the former IEB at Moorlands School in Great Yarmouth, before it became an academy, were current or former council staff.

What do you think about the future of Cavell Primary School? Write to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

8 comments

  • Oh, and before I forget, it's worth saying that Gordon Boyd is the last turkey voting from Christmas because when Ofsted and the DfE have finished privatising - sorry - ACADEMISING every school in Norfolk then he will be out of a job. Who says that every cloud doesn't have a silver lining after all?

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    Fenscape

    Monday, December 9, 2013

  • I notice this school was one of the few Norwich schools that closed earlier this year because of a light dusting of snow. Perhaps someone at NCC looked out of their office window and said why should we have to come to work and the teachers at Cavell Primary School have the day off when there is hardly any snow on the ground.

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    Fly Tipper

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Ah yes. Putting unqualified council rubbish on boards is about par for the course for NCC.

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    "V"

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • There is one sure fire way of making sure that this school makes a decent amount of progress and that it to get shot of anyone that NCC puts in under the guise of a management board. Take it from me, all these reptiles will do is tow the party line and pave the way for a rep from the DfE to come in and slap an Academy order on the table signed by Lord Nash. The only advice I can give to the ex-governors is that you should sit back, fold your arms and wait for these pillocks to mess things up because they WILL, despite being paid top whack as an SIP. (Who are all consultants these days btw because NCC made many of them redundant and then discovered that they can't do without them after all - maybe an FOI will reveal exactly how much they are being paid for this?!)

    Report this comment

    Fenscape

    Monday, December 9, 2013

  • Of one thing you can be sure. If the malign hand of the NCC under the misrule of Gnobbs and Castle is interfering the board will be entirely inappropriate for the interests of the school. They cannot do anything without getting it very badly wrong.

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    alecto

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • This shows why politicians, both local & national have a level of respect on a par with sewer rats..

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    el84

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

  • Cippenham. Tory Govt. Labour Council.

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    Andy T

    Wednesday, December 4, 2013

  • Local Norfolk politicians have to do national politicians' bidding which is to promote academies and Ofsted is being used as a tool to fail schs to ensure there is no alternative. Local people and parents are powerless. Welcome to the return to Eastern European Communism...... blimey and from a Tory Govt too. Just shows how base politicians are in that they will use any tactic to force through their policy of the day.

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    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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