Hewett parents question Inspiration Trust about land, the school day and unqualified teachers

The Hewett School holds the first of three meetings with parents to discuss whether it should become

The Hewett School holds the first of three meetings with parents to discuss whether it should become an academy. New head teacher Tom Leverage addresses the audience.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The length of the school day, the use of unqualified teachers, and the future of the Hewett's land were raised by parents at the first consultation meeting on government plans for it to become an academy.

Ministers want the school to join the Inspiration Trust chain of Norfolk and Suffolk academies, but the proposal has sparked a vocal anti-academy campaign.

The school's interim executive board (IEB), which replaced its governors in March, last night held the first in a series of meetings as part of the statutory consultation on its proposed academy conversion.

Almost 50 people heard from IEB chairman Paul Mitchell, incoming Hewett head Tom Leverage, and Ian Burchett, an executive principal from the Inspiration Trust in Great Yarmouth. The trust's chief executive, Dame Rachel de Souza, did not attend.

One parent voiced opposition to a longer school day, which other Inspiration schools have implemented.

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Mr Burchett said different Inspiration schools had different approaches, and he could not say what would happen at the Hewett.

He said the trust, which recently advertised for unqualified teachers at its Norwich Primary Academy, had a policy that all unqualified staff had to work towards a qualification.

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He nodded when asked if Mr Leverage would decide whether the school retained its arts specialism; Mr Leverage said he was passionate about the arts.

Asked whether the Inspiration Trust would sell any Hewett land, Mr Burchett said: 'Inspiration Trust will not be part of any sell off of the land.'

Asked after the meeting about the possibility of the Jane Austen College and Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, other Inspiration Trust schools in Norwich, moving to the Hewett site, Mr Burchett said: 'They are in buildings and are established schools. There's no rationale behind moving schools that are established and with pupil bodies that are very happy where they are.'

He said no decision had been made about whether Inspiration's new Norwich free school, the Charles Darwin Primary, due to open in 2016, would be on the Hewett site.

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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