Carlton Colville and Downham Market schools served government termination warning notices
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A primary school in Suffolk could be moved to a new sponsor after a poor Ofsted report saw the government threaten to end its funding.
Tim Coulson, the regional schools commissioner for the east of England, sent the Active Learning Trust (ALT) a termination warning notice in relation to Grove Primary School, in Carlton Colville, in July.
It comes just weeks after the Suffolk school was rated inadequate by Ofsted in June, when inspectors found 'serious weaknesses' and said it was 'performing significantly less well' than it should be.
Termination warning notices are issued to poorly rated schools, and signals that the commissioner is considering scrapping a school's funding agreement - meaning it would have to move to a new trust.
In the letter, Mr Coulson said: 'In light of these findings by Ofsted, I am not satisfied that the trust has the capacity to support the rapid and sustained improvement that is required so I am serving you with this termination warning notice.'
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But Gary Peile, chief executive of ALT, moved to reassure parents and staff that the school was working closely with Mr Coulson to ensure its leadership was 'secure'.
He said, since its inspection, the trust had 'completely revised' its senior leadership team, bringing in headteachers from two other thriving trust schools.
'We are confident the trust does have the capacity to ensure Grove moves quickly from special measures,' he said. 'We can evidence our effectiveness and ability in the recent turnaround of Westwood and Red Oak Primary Schools which have already moved onto good outcomes with Ofsted since they joined the trust.'
He said the trust had lodged a formal complaint over the Ofsted inspection, which they felt was not 'of the rigorous standard' it normally sets.
Mr Coulson has asked the school to put forward its case as he decides whether to terminate the agreement.
We asked the Department for Education why the school had be issued a termination warning notice, rather than a pre-termination warning, which is often a precursor to a full warning, but they were not able to respond before publication.
'Trust has not adequately addressed concerns'
The west Norfolk trust behind a struggling high school has also been handed a termination warning notice.
The Eastern Multi-Academy Trust (EMAT) received the letter about Downham Market Academy from Mr Coulson in July.
It comes after the school was put into special measures by Ofsted in June, after inspectors said it was 'failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education'.
It was already being transferred to new sponsors the Cambridge Educational Trust, a process which will be unaffected by the notice. It does, though, give Mr Coulson more power to enforce it.
In November, the trust - then the College of West Anglia Academy Trust (CWA) - was handed a pre-termination warning over the school's 'unacceptably low' standards.
In the new letter, Mr Coulson said the Ofsted report 'raises many of the same issues and therefore is evidence that the trust has not adequately addressed my concerns' since that original notice. In May, the nine schools in CWA formed EMAT.
Dr Duncan Ramsey, chief executive of EMAT, said the trust, its new sponsors and the Department for Education were working closely together.