Sewell Park College public meeting hears concerns about proposed academy sponsor and lack of consultation

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

Parents concerned about plans to convert a city high school into an academy have formed a campaign group following a public meeting this evening.

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

About 60 parents, teachers, residents and activists attended the discussion about the future of Sewell Park College, in Norwich.

The school was put in special measures in November following an 'inadequate' Ofsted rating, and last week it emerged that its interim governors want it to become an academy sponsored by the Right for Success Trust.

The trust is based at Eaton Hall Specialist Academy, and also runs three primary schools.

Chrissie Smith, of the National Union Teachers, told the meeting at the Christ Church Centre on Magdalen Road, that a number of potential sponsors should have been considered, and the best selected, but that 'this has not happened'.


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She said: 'Right for Success may be wonderful, but they have never had a high school before, so why do they want this one?'

Right for Success has yet to comment publicly on Sewell Park, but last week chief executive Valerie Moore said: 'I believe that the Right for Success Trust does have at its disposal personnel with the skills and acumen to support a mainstream high school.'

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A number of audience members raised concerns about the pace of the proposed academy conversion, alleging it was dictated by a government desire to convert it ahead of a pre-election deadline, after which controversial decisions cannot be made.

A teacher at the school said: 'The rush is a political process to get it in before March 31, and I maintain that we as a school deserve a better stab at a selection process to match the right academy chain for Sewell Park College.

'The academy chain does not look on paper like a good match. Even if it looks on paper that they could justify their role as a sponsor, why the rush? Why the secrecy?'

At the end of the meeting, about a dozen people who said they were interested in forming a campaign group gathered together.

One of them, Clare Staples, whose daughter is at the school, and who set up the Stand Up for Sewell Park Facebook group, 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.'

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

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