Inspiration Trust rejects call to “back down and step away” from Hewett School

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 July 2015

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

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

copyright: Archant 2014

A controversial academy chain has rejected calls to withdraw from plans to take over a struggling high school, after a consultation showed strong public opposition.

Variety of responses to consultation

“I am opposed to the principle of academies and can see no reason why the Hewett School should become one other than political ideology.”

“As long as school stays open and my daughter gets an education I don’t mind who runs the school.”

“The school and its land belong to the people of Norwich and should not be given away to the Inspiration Trust.”

“Academy status would give the school both freedom and the ability to teach in a way that is both fulfilling the academic requirements and the pastoral care which it has lacked in recent years.”

“There has been no clear reason put forward by the Department for Education or the interim executive board as to WHY IT are the preferred sponsors. What other sponsors were considered?”

More than 350 people completed a questionnaire about the future of the Hewett School, which the Department for Education (DfE) wants to become an academy, sponsored by the Inspiration Trust (IT).

A report yesterday concluded that, of those who took part, “the great majority was opposed to the Hewett School being converted into an academy and hostile to Inspiration Trust as the preferred sponsor”.

It said: “In the questionnaire overall, the arguments against academisation ran around 4:1, with higher proportions of opposition among parents and members of the local community.”

Arguments given in favour included “the need to make swift change to a failing school”, and parents with children at IT schools commenting on how they had progressed.

Lynsey White, a leader of the anti-academy campaign, said: “We want IT to back down and step away from our school. They can’t take over our school when we are so hostile to them. They should say ‘we asked the people of Norwich what they wanted, and the people of Norwich said no’, so we want them to step away.”

An IT spokesman said: “Deciding on the proposed changes to the Hewett School is not about a popularity contest or about making symbolic gestures - it is making sure the children of Norwich get the best possible start in life.”

He added: “Changes are needed to restore the Hewett to the full, bustling, and great place it once was, and we believe the Inspiration Trust has an important part to play in that transformation.”

The DfE said it was considering the findings.

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