MP “extremely concerned” about underperforming academies in Thetford

Ian Cleland of the Academy Transformation Trust. Picture: Ian Burt

Ian Cleland of the Academy Transformation Trust. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Elizabeth Truss MP is calling for 'rapid improvement' in two underperforming primary schools in her constituency.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The South West Norfolk MP wrote to the regional schools commissioner, Tim Coulson, to say she was 'extremely concerned' about the Diamond and Admirals Academies in Thetford.

The schools, both managed by the Academy Transformation Trust (ATT), were issued with government warning notices about low performance last year.

In her letter Ms Truss expressed particular concern about pupils' maths and literacy skills and said the schools 'must not be allowed to tread water'.

She wrote: 'We do not have the luxury of time and as children progress through the academic timetable, parents and pupils need to be confident that they have access to the very best in education.'

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Ms Truss added that she 'would have expected rapid reforms to have taken place' in the six months since the notices were issued.

On her comments to Mr Coulson, Ms Truss said: 'It is not right that pupils leave primary without a proper education to cope with secondary school.

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'Since warning notices were issued in November 2015, I want to know what action has been taken to improve the situation.

'We do have some fantastic teachers in Norfolk and I want to see the excellent teaching staff getting the support so standards go up – this needs to happen now.'

Ms Truss said she would be meeting with education secretary Nicky Morgan this month to discuss the issue.

Last week ATT, which also sponsors Nicholas Hamond Academy in Swaffham and Iceni Academy in Methwold, announced it was planning dozens of redundancies while simultaneously creating two new regional directors posts.

Commenting on the Thetford schools, ATT chief executive Ian Cleland said the trust wanted to 'strengthen primary in the eastern region'.

Joyce Hodgetts, managing director of ATT, said Diamond and Admirals Academies had received warning notices due to insufficient progress in SAT results, but a rapid improvement plan including teaching and learning strategies, leadership and management support, environmental improvements and additional resources had been implemented in both schools.

'ATT take our responsibility for the children of Thetford very seriously,' she said.

'Senior staff within the trust monitor progress and ensure that the support being given is having a positive impact.

'We have done all in our power to ensure that results this year will be significantly improved on those last year.

'The comment regarding increasing capacity and expertise in the eastern region reflects our commitment to providing all the support we possibly can.

'We are proud of the staff in both academies and acknowledge their hard work and commitment to the children of Thetford in a time of very challenging circumstances.'

A Department for Education spokesperson said: 'We will not accept low standards in any school or academy and where students are not getting the high quality education they deserve we will intervene.

'We are closely monitoring Admirals and Diamond Academies and in are regular discussion with the Academy Transformation Trust. The trust is aware that we expect both academies to make significant improvements this summer.'

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