Revealed: The cost of staff payouts in run up to Hewett and Sewell Park College becoming academies

Protest at the gates of Hewett School after it was announced it will become an academy.Picture: ANTO

Protest at the gates of Hewett School after it was announced it will become an academy.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

This newspaper can today reveal the £500,000 cost of payments to staff leaving two city high schools in the run-up to them becoming academies.

John Catton, chairman of Sewell Park College's previous interim executive board. Picture: ANTONY KE

John Catton, chairman of Sewell Park College's previous interim executive board. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Those funds, plus the costs of interim governors at one school and writing off the other's deficit, will be met from council funds that could otherwise support Norfolk's remaining non-academies.

The Hewett School and Sewell Park College became academies on September 1, after being put in special measures last November, removing them from local authority oversight and putting them under the control of two academy chains.

However, the £281,134 cost at the Hewett, and £226,227 cost at Sewell Park, of pay-outs to staff made redundant as the schools tried to cut their six-figure deficits, or who were asked to leave and signed gagging clauses, have been met by Norfolk County Council.

A former member of staff at one of the schools said: 'The thing that upsets me is that all the schools in Norfolk are now having to pay for preparing these schools for academisation.

The new signs for the Hewett Academy at the school. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The new signs for the Hewett Academy at the school. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015


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'All the schools have had to cover the costs of this, and it is the academy chains who have gained the benefit.'

This newspaper's Freedom of Information request also showed the interim executive board (IEB) the council appointed to replace Sewell Park's governors in July 2014 cost £50,764 in salaries and clerking.

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The costs of the Hewett's IEB are not currently known, because it was appointed and funded by the Department for Education, but have also been requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

John Catton, who chaired Sewell Park's IEB, said it achieved record GCSE results, eliminated the deficit, appointed an experienced permanent headteacher, and won praise from Ofsted inspectors.

He said: 'I think the IEB achieved a huge amount and actually proved to be excellent value for money for the public purse. We have handed to the academy trust a school that's back on track, whereas we inherited a school that was in a desperate state.'

In the same period, Ofsted inspectors said the Hewett was making reasonable progress towards getting out of special measures, but this summer its provisional GCSE pass rate fell from 44pc to 42pc.

A council spokesman said: 'Excellence in education is a key priority for Norfolk County Council, so when schools are in difficulty and the education of children is suffering, rapid and effective intervention is essential. Decisive intervention does have a cost, but where this is necessary and produces real results, it is a good use of resources.'

The costs revealed today do not include the Hewett's remaining deficit - believed to remain in six figures - which was written off when it became an academy, and will also be borne by the council. It said this figure would not be known until January at the earliest.

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

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