School to be an Academy

ndet 99119 Alfreton Woodbridge School Academy Meeting. L-R, Mandy Oldknow, Justin Marsh, Cheryl Kellett, Kirsteen Moss, Allison Siddall, Nigel Mills MP, Mark Skelton.
ndet 99119 Alfreton Woodbridge School Academy Meeting. L-R, Mandy Oldknow, Justin Marsh, Cheryl Kellett, Kirsteen Moss, Allison Siddall, Nigel Mills MP, Mark Skelton.

STAFF and governors at an Alfreton junior school are up in arms after they were told the school must become an academy to tackle ‘unacceptably low’ results.

Woodbridge Junior School’s governing body was warned by the Secretary of State in April that exam results in English and maths were so low that the school had until May 28 to apply to become an academy school.

But chair of governors Alison Siddall says the school’s performance is improving and has serious concerns about the value of academy status.

She said: “You become a private company which means education is taken out of local authority control - it’s privatisation through the back door.

“I wouldn’t expect a school to be run like a business. Where do they children fit into a business?”

She described the school’s atmosphere as ‘stressful’ with SATS exams this week and the prospect of a OFSTED inspection looming: “We have had children of ten going to the doctors with chest pains through anxiety. Nobody is asking what are we doing to the children. And the staff are worried about their jobs.”

Lord Overhill, under Secretary of State for Schools, advised Derbyshire County Council to give the school a performance standards and safety warning notice. The council declined to do this - confident that the school had improvement plans in place - but was over-ruled in March.

Lord Overhill wrote to say he was not reassured by predictions that the school is on a “secure, upward trajectory, particularly as the school’s attainment has fallen by 14 per cent since 2008.”

A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “As a consequence of the warning notice, the school is now required to consult with parents about becoming a sponsored academy.

“We’re supporting the school in drawing up a timetable for, and conducting, the consultation.”