Greenwich town hall chief ousted amid row over The John Roan school becoming an academy

BY CALUM FRASER calum@slpmedia.co.uk

A town hall chief has been sacked from his position on a school’s trust after he criticised trustees for not resisting academisation.

The John Roan Foundation dismissed former Greenwich deputy leader, Cllr John Fahy, from their board of trustees on the grounds that he breached confidentiality.

On Twitter the Woolwich Riverside ward councillor said he was “disappointed to be removed from the John Roan Foundation”, and that trustees were “failing to act in the interests of the school”.

He also said he was “determined to make a formal complaint to the Charity Commission.”

The John Roan is set to become an academy within the University School’s Trust (UST) chain after it received an Ofsted “inadequate” rating in June.

A group of parents and teachers led by the National Education Union have launched a crowdfunding campaign to challenge the Ofsted decision legally.

One parent, Anni Harrison, said: “Some teachers and councillors seem to be sitting on the fence. Us parents will drag them over to the right side if necessary.

“Every avenue must be explored to prevent the academisation of John Roan.

“If the NEU are making a legal challenge and their lawyers believe the school can win against Ofsted, the general board and the local authority have a duty to get behind them, for the children and the community of The John Roan.

“As parents we must unite behind this challenge and pressure the school to do the same.” The NEU are hoping to use a high court case from September last year as a precedent to quash the Ofsted rating.

In the case of Durand Academy, in Lambeth, Judge McKenna quashed the “inadequate” classification and criticised Ofsted’s appeals process.

The schools watchdog does not consider appeals when a school is judged to have serious weaknesses or requires special measures “because all such judgements are subject to extended quality assurance procedures”.

Judge McKenna wrote: “To my mind, a complaints process which effectively says there is no need to permit an aggrieved party, to pursue a substantive challenge to the conclusions of a report it considers to be defective, because the decision maker’s processes are so effective that the decision will always in effect be unimpeachable, is not a rational or fair process.”

Links between UST and several important figures connected to The John Roan School have also alarmed parents.

Christine Whatford, who was John Roan chairwoman of governors when UST were brought in as consultants in September 2017, was also a UST director up until August 2016.

Parent Stephanie Wilson-Black said: “I am so angry. It’s shocking. Surely it is a conflict of interest? As a parent, we were never told about this. My daughter is in Year 8.

When we signed up to The John Roan we wanted a community secondary school, not an academy.

We have been treated in an aggressive tone when we have approached the trust, just asking basic questions.”

GMB union members joined teachers and parents in industrial action on Wednesday, July 11 and Thursday, July 12 at The John Roan School, Maze Hill.

A spokeswoman for Ofsted said: “All schools have the right to challenge their inspection judgement.

“However, it is incorrect to suggest that if a school and the local authority support a legal case against an inadequate judgement, this will result in the judgement being quashed.

This decision ultimately is one for the courts and will depend on each individual case. In terms of the Durand case, Ofsted has been given permission to appeal the High Court decision and the appeal will be heard on December 5, 2018.”

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