Though the school governors at Tidemill Primary School in Deptford previously voted 8 to 5 on the 2nd of December 2010 to take the school into academy status, last Tuesday, January 18 2011, they made a decision to withdraw their application. Their decision came after a long campaign
by parents and local campaigners.
Solicitors acting on my behalf claimed that there were many flaws in the school's proposal and consultation process.
(1) The School failed to comply with its public sector equality duties;
(2) The decision was taken on the basis of, and having considered, misleading and/or incorrect financial information and/or without proper steps being taken to obtain the information which was required properly to inform the decision;
(3) The decision was taken in the light of a consultation process in which the information presented to consultees was misleading or incorrect, and
(4) The decision was taken on a misunderstanding as to the basis on which parental views had been obtained.
One glaring example was that the school estimated that it would cost them £60,000 to pay for additional services normally provided by the LEA when in fact the DfE’s estimate was £78,000 and the LEA estimated the figure to be in excess of £229,000.
As far as I am aware under the coalition government, Tidemill has had the most extensive consultation. Alarm bells ring at the speed in which other schools have consulted, most being rushed through within a six weeks period over the summer. I wonder what detail was missed in the rush?
During our consultation I saw staff that were desperate and under tremendous pressure to convert. Parent governors told me” it was law and they had to do it”, staff said “they could not survive as a school if they didn’t convert”. "We would have more money” we were told. The whole process put tremendous pressure on the school and took away valuable time energy that would have otherwise been invested in children.
I now experience a deflated school where friendship and trust is broken; this will take time to rebuild. I wonder if the government had thought about the consequences of not converting or converting too fast and the damage that it might do to a community. The decision to withdraw is as important as the decision to apply, we now need to disseminate the whole experience and ascertain true facts.
It is not healthy to be in conflict, but I do care about the children of Deptford and to make such a fundamental irreversible change to a school needs rigorous scrutiny. Tidemill is a really good school. Why change it? As yet I have to be convinced of why becoming an academy was such a good idea
Leila Galloway (Parent Tidemill)