Academy status row sparks resignations

A PRIMARY school’s move to adopt academy status has prompted the resignation of two governors in opposition to the decision.

Skegness Junior School agreed to join with the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust (GDFT) - a sponsor organisation which runs four academies, including Skegness Academy.

Although governors overall voted in favour of the move, two board members objected strongly to the methods by which they believe the partnership with the GDFT was forged.

Former chairman of governors Coun Mark Anderson claims that as a condition of the sponsorship, GDFT’s chief executive Barry Day insisted he step down from the board, following a disagreement they had when the possibility of joining the trust was first raised in June.

He said: “I feel totally and utterly heart broken that I have been stabbed in the back by this.”

Mr Day and the Junior School’s head teacher Tom Smith both strongly deny the claim, however another governor who wished to remain anonymous has backed Coun Anderson’s story and a former community governor Colin Wright has also backed the claims and resigned in protest.

Potential advantages of joining with GDFT include increased financial resources, improved standards of teaching, reductions in administrative bureaucracy and a smooth transition to secondary school, which Mr Smith believes will ‘add up to an even better deal for our pupils every single day’.

He believes the GFDT is the best partner for the Junior School to become an academy and will help the school to build on its record of improvement to become outstanding.

Another school recently taken over by the GDFT, Skegness Academy, has shown significant improvements in pupil attainment since it joined the trust last year, which was reflected in its recent ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report.

Mr Day believes the trust can have a similar effect on the standards of education offered to Junior School pupils.

He said: “We want to work closely with the Junior School to build on what they already do extremely well and support them in areas where further development is needed.”

However Coun Anderson and Mr Wright have concerns that Skegness Academy has achieved its academic success by employing a selective admissions policy, which they warn will force students with special education needs to travel out of Skegness.

Coun Anderson added: “Although Skegness Academy has achieved an outstanding Ofsted report it has done so by refusing children with special needs, because it costs them too much money and would affect their targets - that to me is unacceptable in state education.”

Mr Day has denied this claim.

Meanwhile, the head teacher at Tennyson High School, Mablethorpe, Dr Chris Rolph. has said that his school had received a significant increase in applications from pupils in the Skegness area, particularly those with special education needs, since Skegness Academy started last year.