Thetford Academy - Two into One doesn't go

Mark Adams's picture
My daughters high school in the north of Thetford was combined with the other Thetford high school (in the south of the town) into a single Academy in September 2010. All of the advantages of being an Academy were given and despite a very low response, it was unanimously voted in favour of Academy status.
However, just weeks after becoming an Academy, with a shortfall in funding due to the spending review, the Governors announced plans to divide the schools into two schools by year (Junior and Senior) meaning pupils travelling in both directions across Thetford. Parents were not happy. Plans were then announced to close both schools and build a new single site Academy away from both schools!. Parents were furious.
Over the last 6 months parents have campaigned against the changes and have succeeded in a compromise. To move all of the pupils into one of the original schools.
Throughout this period, local and regional councils have denied any involvement, saying that the Academy is now independent. The Government has told us any complaints should be made to the Academy! The sponsor Governors are from out of town and do not represent the parents views.
I can see some financial benefit where a single school has gained Academy status, but there has been a history of closures when more than one school is involved. eg Furness Academy.
I want my story to warn other parents of the dangers of their school becoming an Academy.
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Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 08/06/2011 - 21:24

This really highlights a major problem with the Academy programme: no accountability. It's awful that you could only complain to the Academy itself, and there was no one else to turn to. That's why in the long run, the programme is doomed: creating thousands of unaccountable schools is a recipe for disaster.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 09/06/2011 - 07:55

When schools are maintained by local authorities any disputes not resolved at school level can be referred to local councillors. This is not the case with academies. In theory parents with unresolved disputes with academies are supposed to be able to appeal to the Secretary of State for Education. However, in the case of the school above, it appears that the DfE has told parents that they must complain to the the academy sponsors who are not local.

So much for localism and accountability.

Allan Beavis's picture
Thu, 09/06/2011 - 13:55

A lack of accountability, secretiveness, manipulation of legislation, all smoothed over by layers of smarm and dishonesty to rival Berlusconi's Italy

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 07/07/2011 - 07:33

This is a serious allegation and raises the question of where parents of children in academies take unresolved complaints as it is no longer possible to complain to local authorities. Wellington Academy's recent Ofsted monitoring report (undertaken by Serco Inspection on behalf of Ofsted on 1 and 2 Dec 2010) said the school, which is sponsored by the public school Wellington College, had a new Special Needs Co-ordinator who "is tackling shortcomings in systems for supporting vulnerable students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities."

Bill, I note that you criticised Wellington Academy three months' ago on the New Academy Guide Forum who deleted most of your comment because Wellington Academy was an "old" academy. However, the reply agreed that your concern about the lack of an ombudsman was legitimate. It is something that needs addressing urgently.

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