Plans to convert a historic school into an academy have suffered a huge setback after the trust which planned to run it pulled out.
The University Schools Trust (UST) said it does not have the resources to turn around The John Roan School, in Maze Hill.
It was called on by the Department for Education last summer to take over the 300-year-old school, after Ofsted judged it to be “inadequate”.
But teachers staged strikes and parents created a campaign group, John Roan Resists, to
Anni Harrison, a parent and spokeswoman for John Roan Resists, said in response to the news: “What the community of parents and carers have achieved in resisting academisation is hugely significant.
“We have seen off the UST through our own research and due diligence. What we need now is a united parental and community stance against any new sponsor.”
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests conducted by parents have revealed that the UST’s
flagship school Saint Paul’s Way Trust (SPWT) has experienced high staff turnover of 21 per cent year on year.
Recently parents from the SPWT primary school contacted John Roan parents with their concerns about the safeguarding of their children and stonewalling by the UST when theymade complaints.
These complaints have been raised with the Local Authority Designated Officer for safeguarding (LADO) in Tower Hamlets and investigations are ongoing.
In addition, further research uncovered articles from a local newspaper, dating back to December 2008, claiming Grahame Price left his College ‘under a cloud’ after spending a
four-month sabbatical “in Colombia on full pay less than a year after Ofsted warned grades and teaching standards were not up to scratch”.
A few months after his departure the school was plunged into special measures, closed and was academised the following year.
Kirstie Paton, NEU co-rep at The John Roan School, said: “We are relieved that theUST has finally agreed to withdraw.
“We remain implacably opposed to this forced academisation. The whole academisation process has been extremely disruptive to our school, where considerable amounts of public money has been frittered away on consultants who have had very little impact on those that count – our students.”
Greenwich NEU Secretary, Tim Woodcock, responded to a letter from Dominic Herrington, Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), by adding: “The RSC has stated that the DfE are now looking for a new sponsor.
“We will continue to lobby Dominic Herrington and Damian Hinds (Secretary of State) to listen to parents and rethink this proposal.
“We are now part of a growing number of schools nationally that will continue to challenge the rationale that academies deliver a better education compared to LAs.
“We believe that The John Roan and other schools like us are better placed in the family of LA schools rather than forcing unaccountable MATs (Multi-Academy Trusts) on communities that don’t want them. This will only serve to disrupt the education of our students.”
GMB Regional Officer Clive Smith said: “The news that UST have pulled out and will not get their hands on John Roan School will be welcomed by all staff as well as the local politicians and parents who have campaigned alongside us.
“Our members were unimpressed with the failure of UST to provide adequate reassurances regarding the staff’s future and they were so unimpressed they took to the picket line in large numbers to express their concern.
“GMB members will meet in the new year to discuss this news and decide the next steps.
Whether the school stays part of the Greenwich community or ends up in an academy trust, GMB will be after reassurances and guarantees that protect our members’ jobs and
terms and conditions.
“Our members have shown they will take industrial action to enforce their position.”
Parents oppose the academisation, believing: “Staff leave in droves and children get a diet of ‘exam factory’ education. We are also concerned that our children with SEND needs will not be fully supported by an academy as research suggests these are the first children to lose out.”
A crowd justice campaign by parents to challenge the March 2018 inspection report in court said: “The inspection was conducted with little regard for the rapid succession of headteachers with three headteachers in 18 months and the instability this caused.
“The Ofsted report doesn’t describe a school that we recognise. The report has ignored all the positive aspects of the school and skewed evidence and fact to make our school fit a predetermined outcome.
“The judgement of our sixth form as ‘Requires Improvement’ is simply wrong on all indicators.
We are a good sixth form. We were so shocked by the report that we submitted a complaint as parents to Ofsted June 14, 2018.”