Parents frustrated as Great Yarmouth school ‘snubs’ second meeting

PUBLISHED: 06:48 03 August 2012

Greenacre primary school headteacher Bill Holledge.

Greenacre primary school headteacher Bill Holledge.

Archant © 2012

A MEETING that hoped to address worried parents’ concerns over a school’s proposed 45-hour week has been scrapped at the last minute - as no one from the school was available to attend.

The lack of a positive RSVP from staff at Greenacre Primary School - including head teacher Bill Holledge - has frustrated parents and local councillors who say mums and dads will now be facing an apprehensive start to the new term as their questions go unanswered.

And the cancellation of the meeting due to be held tonight, which Greenacre staff had three weeks notice of, comes as some parents have begun to pull their children out of the Dickens Avenue school.

Tony Blencowe has moved his son Jack, six, to North Denes Junior School as he was so concerned about Greenacre’s proposals to keep children in class until 6pm, and the continued confusion among parents over whether the extra curricular activities they would be offered until then would be optional.

The 39-year-old builder said: “We don’t think it’s the right school for our son at the minute. And we’re not the only family. There’s people that have put in for transfers.”

The 45 hour week is being introduced at Greenacre as part of its plans to become an academy and change its name to Great Yarmouth Primary Academy.

The extended timetable will offer free activities to children including sport, IT, dancing and horse riding but angry parents have said the longer school day will wear their youngsters out and eat into family time.

Mr Blencowe gave credit to Mr Holledge, who has helped bring the school out of special measures and improve results, but slammed the way he and millionaire sponsor Theodore Agnew had failed to address parents in person.

“No one from that school is willing to attend the meeting, they just do not want to answer the questions,” he added.

Both Mr Holledge and Mr Agnew failed to attend a previous parents’ meeting in July and cited holidays for preventing them from coming to tonight’s.

Great Yarmouth Borough councillor Kerry Robinson Payne helped parents organise tonight’s meeting and said she had tried to get a governor or trustee to come along and represent the school, but her requests had gone unanswered.

She said: “The parents just wanted some face to face answers.

“The head is saying he’ll do an email, phone call or chat in the playground and yet I have had parents saying to me he’s not doing that.

“Everybody is in a state of confusion, especially about the extra curricular activities, and one parent has said to me there’s definitely some tension in the air.”

“I’m certainly not against an academy but the treatment of the parents had been terrible,” Mrs Robinson Payne added.

Fellow councillor Michael Jeal was equally annoyed that the meeting had to be called off.

He said: “What is the point of talking to ourselves and not getting any answers? They couldn’t even send a deputy or even a member from the governing body.”

Mr Holledge and Mr Agnew stated a document they have sent to parents is “clear and comprehensive” and said they were happy to meet parents individually to discuss concerns.

The document also said the programme of activities offered to youngsters continues to “evolve” to help meet “the needs of our pupils”.

Since the academy announcement extra activities have been added to the extended school timetable, including cooking classes, trips to the north Norfolk coast to study seals and time at Cambridge University to learn about rocket engineering.

During the summer holidays the school is also investing £150,000 in new boilers and central heating in the gym and community room that is hoped will help youngsters concentrate in class come September.

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