BY JAMES TWOMEY
Parents of students say they are “outraged” at a decision to turn their school into an academy after months of campaigning against it.
The John Roan School in Maze Hill, Greenwich, has officially become an academy, joining the multi-academy trust United Learning, after an academy order was confirmed at a Greenwich council cabinet meeting on June 12.
There was further anger from parents towards the council as they said they had voted for the current council members who they believed would “resist further academisation of Greenwich schools” – parents shouted “shame” from the gallery as the motion was passed.
Parents and teachers at the school had been on many protests and strikes over the decision by Education Secretary Damien Hinds to order academy status in June 2018.
Lizzie Gould, parent of a pupil at the school and a teacher at another school, said: “We have seen what is happening with support staff being sacked and children let down at Halley Academy [another academy in the borough that parents have protested over].
“We now see similar damage being done to our nearby primary school Brooklands.
We do not wish to join this list of schools abandoned by the Royal Borough of Greenwich and given over to the control of Multi Academy Trusts which give exorbitant salaries to CEOs whilst cutting low paid staff and depriving children of resources.
This has got to stop. “As a parent I am utterly appalled about the council’s attitude and lack of support. I want the school to stay part of the community.
“Children will suffer and so will staff under the pressures of the academy.
A school needs a positive environment, not a stressful one. “What support will children with mental health or even SEND children will get?
Because these areas are often looked over. “We are going to lose, and have already lost, some fantastic teachers as well as support staff members in the process.”
A spokesman for United Learning said: “We are very pleased that the Regional Schools Commissioner has decided that The John Roan School will join United Learning.
“Over the past 10 days our team has begun work successfully in the school alongside the leadership team. We invited all parents to a meeting on Monday evening to explain our approach to school improvement and around one hundred parents attended what was a very positive meeting.
“It was clear that parents fully understand the challenges we face but are highly concerned by the prospect of any further delay or disruption.
Parents made this clear very vocally to the NEU representative and the leaders of the small group who are attempting to stop the school from becoming an academy and who were distributing leaflets at the meeting.
“Whatever campaigners from outside the school and outside the borough may say, parents have expressed clearly their support for the school joining United Learning.”
Councillor Jackie Smith, Greenwich council cabinet member for children’s services and community safety, said: “Following legal sanction by the Secretary of State last year, United Learning has been announced as the academy sponsor for John Roan School.
Staff and parents have been informed and the transition to becoming an academy commenced after May half-term; the school is expected to formally become an Academy on September 1, 2019.
“The council has been opposed to the forced academisation of the John Roan school since it was decided last year, but unfortunately the legal requirement meant the decision from the Secretary of State had to be upheld, despite clear resistance.
“We will continue to work with the staff, parents and pupils affected to ensure a smooth transition, as making sure that the young people involved continue to receive their education in a safe, stable environment is vitally important to offer them the best foundations for the future.”
Parents and teachers of the school plan to go on strike again, with days of action planned for June 25 and 27.
A statement from Parents for John Roan said: “Parents of John Roan fully support John Roan staff in taking action to stop this disastrous process of privatisation called academisation.
We will be part of the community picket line to celebrate the 342 years of history of the oldest community school on Tuesday 25 and Thursday 27 June at Maze Hill. All welcome.”