Headteacher at Eye school hits out in admissions row

James McAtear, headteacher of Hartismere School

James McAtear, headteacher of Hartismere School

A headteacher has attacked Suffolk County Council and the Schools Adjudicator for having 'wasted our time with nonsense'.

James McAtear, from Hartismere School in Eye, claimed the local authority had acted with its 'normal rudeness and disrespect' after it complained to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) over the admissions policy at the north Suffolk academy.

Mr McAtear, recognised as a National Leader in Education, made his comments as part of the school's formal response to an OSA investigation – which ruled in the county council's favour.

The secondary school in Eye, a specialist music and sports college rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted for a second time last year, faced a number of complaints over its admissions policy.

These included that it had failed to publish the information on its website, used confusing terminology in places, and there was an unclear oversubscription criteria.

The school later said it would be happy to make all the necessary changes, but went on to indicate its frustration with the time and effort it was taking to deal with the council's complaint.

In a statement to the OSA, Mr McAtear said: 'All the array of exceptionally minor changes suggested with the normal rudeness and disrespect by the LA [Suffolk County Council] have been implemented without exception and approved by governors. Our last response is that you [the OSA] and the LA have wasted our time with nonsense and have lost our respect.

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'You are wasting taxpayers' money. If you do have to publish your 'findings' we are expressly asking that you include our comments as they are provided above without alteration or other attempts at dissimilation.'

Mr McAtear was unavailable yesterday to comment further.

A council spokeswoman said its responsibility was to raise concerns with OSA.

'We will always raise concerns with the Office of the Schools Adjudicator if we feel it is important to the education of local children,' she said.

'As the adjudicator has determined that our concerns were valid we look forward to changes being made quickly by the school.'

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: 'The Office of the Schools Adjudicator has published its determination on the admission arrangements for Hartismere School. The adjudicator's findings raise a number of issues for the school to consider further.'

In its report the OSA concluded that several aspects of the school's admissions arrangements for September 2016 'did not' meet regulations, these included not consulting on plans to reduce pupil capacity and failing to publish details of the arrangements on the academy's website.

The school was the first in Suffolk to convert to academy status in 2010.