Simon Wright MP speaks out over future of Cavell Primary School in Norwich after meeting parents campaigning against academy conversion

Simon Wright MP, chats with one of the campaign organisers, Tina Boulter, front, as concerned parent

Simon Wright MP, chats with one of the campaign organisers, Tina Boulter, front, as concerned parents campaign to stop Cavell Primary school becoming an academy. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

An MP has criticised Norfolk County Council's push to convert a primary school into an academy, saying parents had not been involved.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright called for plans to make Cavell Primary School in Norwich into a sponsored academy to be put on hold until the outcome of last week's Ofsted visit is published.

He spoke after yesterday meeting parents whose online petition against an academy has received more than 1,000 signatures.

Ofsted said the school was 'inadequate' in May, but a follow up inspection in July found its improvement plan was 'fit for purpose'.

Last week the council removed the school's governors because they wanted to form a co-operative trust with nearby schools before considering academisation, and appointed an interim executive board (IEB) which will decide the school's future.

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Mr Wright said: 'I think the county council's approach on this has been mistaken. The Ofsted report in March this year was very disappointing to everyone concerned but since then the school has been putting in effect measures and there is already evidence emerging that these plans are having an effect.

'The subsequent Ofsted report assessed that their plan was fit for purpose and key stage two Sats results have shown improvement, and maths is improving by double the national rate.

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'I think it would be an absolutely sensible approach for the county council to take their foot off the accelerator and wait for the publication of Ofsted's most recent findings before going any further, and engage with a real dialogue with the parents about the future of the school.'

Headteacher Simon Wakeman described first meeting with the IEB, which also happened yesterday, as positive and constructive, and added: 'As an independent body independent of the local authority and the school it's within their powers to decide the future of the school.'

IEB chairman David Lennard-Jones yesterday wrote to parents saying he was willing to meet them in the future, but said he did not know what role their views would have in the final decision on academisation, or what the likely timescale was.

He said: 'We did speak about [academisation] briefly and as an IEB we felt we did not know enough about the issues to have a conversation about it. We need to find out more.'

Mick Castle, Cabinet Member for Education and Schools, said: 'Cavell Primary School has been in special measures for eight months and the government's expectation is that schools that are inadequate covert to academy status with a strong sponsor.

'There has been no rush to change the status of the school and we have been working closely with the school to support its improvement plan for several months.

'Despite this we had significant concerns that the school could not continue to make the improvements necessary to see it removed from special measures. That is why we applied to the Secretary of State to replace the governors with an Interim Executive Board (IEB).

'The next steps for the school will be a matter for the IEB and we look forward to working closely with them to ensure that the necessary actions are taken to make sure that the school can progress. That will include discussing the school's future structure and any potential sponsor. We would want a sponsor to be an outstanding local school, committed to working alongside other schools in the cluster and maintaining the school's current inclusive ethos and we are hoping to make an announcement about our preferred sponsor shortly. '

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