Sponsorship, we are told, is the best way of supporting ‘failing’ schools. But in the case of one tiny school in North Somerset with fewer than 70 pupils, sponsorship hasn’t followed the script.
Dundry Church of England Primary School was judged to Require Improvement in March 2014. Ofsted monitoring in September 2014 said the Local Authority (LA) had provided ‘immediate and high quality support to improve the quality of education’ following the earlier inspection. The monitoring inspection makes no mention of Dundry becoming an academy.
However, the decision to convert Dundry to a sponsored academy was made by someone at some point. And it was much to the surprise of the local council. Dundry Parish Council Minutes for 14 September 2015 said: ‘Shortly before the end of the summer term [July 2015] it had been announced that Dundry School was to become an Academy under the management of Trinity Academy in Radstock, part of the Dove Family Trust. There had been little consultation with parents or residents and the Parish Council had not been informed.’
The Dove Family Trust is now experiencing problems. The headteacher of the Academy of Trinity, who is also head of Dundry, and two deputies at Trinity have resigned after what the local paper described as ‘a spate of complaints’. The Department for Education has commissioned an independent review of governance at the Trust and has arranged for both academies to be supported by Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership. It appears, then, that a school which was not inadequate and which was receiving high quality support from the LA became a sponsored academy with one trust in September only for the DfE to intervene and arrange support from another multi-academy trust in December. It appears the medicine, which wasn’t even required, isn’t having the required effect.