Alternative academy trusts identified in latest twist to Hewett School saga

Hewett School sign and entrance on Hall Road. Picture: Denise Bradley

Hewett School sign and entrance on Hall Road. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Officials have proposed three alternative academy sponsors to take on the troubled Hewett School in the latest twist in the ongoing saga over its fate.

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo : Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

The Inspiration Trust remains the frontrunner to take on the site which the government is planning to turn into an academy, despite strong opposition from some locals.

However, at a Norfolk County Council children's services committee meeting yesterday officials said they had identified three other organisations which could take over the school.

It comes as a consultation on the future of the Cecil Road school has been criticised for being neither fair nor impartial, and a further battle continues over land attached to the school.

Sheila Lock, interim head of Children's Services at the council, said at a meeting of the Children's Services Committee: 'The Secretary of State's position in determining a sponsor caused quite a significant amount of anxiety and disquiet.'

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A spokesman for the council said there had been no discussions with the alternative academy trusts, and the decision would be made by the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan.

She added: 'They are options that the Secretary of State may wish to pursue if, following consultation, she decides not to go ahead with Inspiration Trust. However this will be a matter for her.'

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At the meeting, councillors were also told a submission would be sent this week to Tim Coulson, the regional schools commissioner, outlining the council's case to own the site.

It wants to leasehold the land to education providers to create a learning village.

Ms Lock said: 'The local authority is in the best place, given it was democratically elected, to own that land on behalf of the people of Norwich and wider Norfolk.'

The Inspiration Trust has pledged not to sell the Hewett's land.

A consultation into the future of the school has ended, but Ms Lock said she had raised a number of issues about the scope and nature of the consultation, and had pushed to ensure the results were published.

Chrissie Smith, teachers representative on the panel, said: 'How can we possibly be certain the consultation was fair, open and impartial when it was the Department for Education that paid for Halsam Dodd to run that consultation?'

The land transferred from the county council to the Central Norwich Foundation Trust after the Hewett became a foundation school in 2009.

A new sponsor usually takes ownership of a foundation school's land when it becomes an academy, but the final decision lies with the government.

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