‘No consultation’ as government issues academy order for Sewell Park College in Norwich

The community meeting at the Christ Church Centre to discuss the future of Sewell Park College. Pict

The community meeting at the Christ Church Centre to discuss the future of Sewell Park College. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Ministers have signed an order for Sewell Park College, in Norwich, to become an academy.

The news emerged after a public meeting where parents and teachers last night expressed concerns about the lack of consultation over the proposed sponsor, Right for Success, and its suitability to run what would be its first mainstream high school.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the academy order had been signed on March 11.

The school's conversion will not be final until the proposed sponsor has signed a funding agreement with the government.

More than 60 people attended the public meeting at the Christ Church Centre, on Magdalen Road, and a dozen gathered at the end to form a campaign group.

Parent Clare Staples said: 'It's about the lack of consultation. We have not been given any information or asked our opinion. The first we knew about Right for Success was we read it in the paper.'

The 2010 Academies Act says a school's governing body must consult 'such persons as they think appropriate' about whether it should convert, and this can take place before or after an academy order has been made.

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However, John Catton, chairman of the interim executive board (IEB) which replaced the school's governors, said: 'The current Government process of automatic conversion to academy status when a school goes into special measures has no built-in genuine consultation.

'The IEB takes the view that if you 'consult' people, they might reasonably expect to have an impact on the outcome – but that is not the case with this process.'

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He said the IEB would hold meetings with staff and parents this week where they can question Right for Success and make comments.

He added: 'We are keen to hear views and enter into discussion, despite the fact that the present system does not provide for what we understand by 'consultation'.'

He also said the IEB initially had 'reservations' about Right for Success's capacity to lead a mainstream secondary school, but, following research, was 'in no doubt at all' it was very well placed to drive further strong improvement.

What do you think? Comment below, or email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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