Parents lose fight against John Roan School, Greenwich becoming an academy

BY JAMES TWOMEY
james@slpmedia.co.uk

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.”

2 thoughts on “Parents lose fight against John Roan School, Greenwich becoming an academy

  • 21st June 2019 at 9:05 pm
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    Whilst I understand and empathise with the concerns of some parents and staff at The John Roan about the school becoming an academy, the fact of the matter is that this school has been failing students under the care of Greenwich Council for the past few years, with multiple changes of leadership, poor governance and weak teaching. The academic results of recent years do not lie and the Ofsted report (though harshly expressed and too light on its praise for the schools’ strengths) exposed the reality of what many parents already knew to be true based on our children’s classroom experiences. The last 12 months of campaigning and strike action has made things worse not better, and has added significant instability to an already struggling school. Despite my concerns about how some other large MATs function elsewhere, the ethos and values of the ULT make it an excellent fit for The John Roan, and their experience in strengthening failing schools makes me conclude we NEED this conversion to proceed for the sake of stability in the school and the education of our children. In dire situations like this (only 24% of y11s last year got a decent pass in Maths and English) political ideology has to give way to pragmatic necessity. The ongoing strike action by the NEU is not going to do anything to change the fact that DfE legislation is being implemented: Greenwich Council are on board, the John Roan Foundation are in agreement, the Headteacher is leading the school through an Ofsted-approved improvement plan, and the students deserve better than another 6 days of lost education. I believe that now is the time for the JRR and NEU to admit that the fight is over: any further disruption is not rescuing this school but actually doing more damage. The children of our school community (51% of which are on Pupil Premium) should not suffer at the hands of the few who are refusing to back down. Enough is enough.

    Reply
  • 22nd June 2019 at 8:09 am
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    There are a small number of parents who fundamentally oppose academisation.

    They are noisy and determined.

    The vast majority of parents just want those involved to focus on improving the school.
    The strikes are just preventing that and damaging the children. The school is currently one of the weakest performing schools in London, especially for the kids form the poorest families.

    Of course unions will want to look after members. But the strikes are about ideological opposition to the law, not about negotiation. It’s only one Union striking.

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