Campaigners hold meeting about the future of the Hewett School

The packed public meeting of 'We're Backing Hewett' at St Alban's Church Hall, Grove Walk, Norwich.P

The packed public meeting of 'We're Backing Hewett' at St Alban's Church Hall, Grove Walk, Norwich.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

About 100 people turned out for a meeting about the future of one of Norwich's high schools.

The government has revealed plans for the Hewett School – which was put into special measures in November – to become an academy sponsored by the Inspiration Trust.

Last night the We're Backing Hewett campaign – which is fighting the proposals – held a public meeting that was attended by parents, residents, students, teachers from other schools, and others wanting to show solidarity.

There was a unanimous vote 'to campaign vigorously to keep the school in the public sector.' A protest march and a Twitter campaign of We're Backing Hewett selfies were among the ways the meeting talked about moving the campaign forward and raising awareness. People were also urged to send letters to education secretary Nicky Morgan.

Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs said the local authority was taking legal action against the government's plans and that it would be 'outrageous' for Norwich to no longer have a single non-academy high school.

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'We are entirely with you in trying to save the Hewett,' he said.

Marian Chapman, a former headteacher of Hethersett High which was taken over by the Inspiration Trust, spoke passionately about stopping the Hewett School becoming an academy based on her views of the school that she once led.

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'It's an examination driven school now, that's all it is. They do not care about anything else,' she said.

Many others also voiced concerns.

After the meeting, Stephen Little, from We're Backing Hewett, said: 'The turnout was brilliant, everyone was very constructive and keen to get involved. People obviously feel very passionate and want to continue the campaign. As a campaign we needed to know that people were still on board and I think we definitely saw that.'

The government expects schools put into special measures to become academies. But Norfolk County Council wants it to be a 'learning village', with enhanced early years activity, and a family and community support centre.

Education minister Lord Nash has written to the Hewett's foundation trust to say the education secretary was minded to make an academy order. It would be the first time ministers used their powers to turn a Norfolk school into an academy without a request from its governors.

The government will hold a consultation with the foundation trust before the education secretary makes a final decision. If a decision is not made by March 30, it is likely to be postponed until after the election.

What do you think? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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