Mixed messages from Inspiration Trust re curriculum at ‘strict’ Yarmouth academy

Janet Downs's picture

Redundancies at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy threaten ‘broadest’ curriculum

Inspiration Trust runs two secondary schools in Great Yarmouth: Trafalgar College, a free school opened in September 2016, and Great Yarmouth Charter Academy (GYCA) formed when Inspiration took over Great Yarmouth VA High in September 2017.

GYCA immediately gained notoriety when the principal said children claiming to be sick should vomit in a bucket.   It later emerged the Regional Schools Commissioner who sanctioned Inspiration’s take-over now sits as chair of governors at GYCA

Shortly after taking over GYCA, Inspiration Trust, whose directors include schools minister Lord Agnew, announced plans to combine the two schools on the GYCA site.   The controversial merger of GYCA and Trafalgar College was given the go-ahead by the Department for Education in May.

Not all Trafalgar College parents are happy with the merger and have taken their case to a judicial review.  

Inspiration Trust is upbeat about the plans.  Inspiration’s CEO Dame Rachel de Souza said:

Bringing the schools together was a tough decision but we believe it offers the best opportunity to secure the broadest, highest quality curriculum for children in the town.’ 

Inspiration’s website says building work and refurbishment on the GYCA site will include ‘new facilities to reflect Trafalgar’s focus on science, engineering, technology and maths’.

But claims of the ‘highest quality curriculum’ and new facilities reflecting STEM subjects are undermined by a BBC report saying GYCA needs to reduce a forecast deficit.  Four D&T/Computer Studies teachers had been recommended for redundancy together with one teacher of Spanish and one of English as an additional language.

These redundancies could mean the closure of GYCA’s design, technology and computer science departments, the BBC said.  

New Trafalgar College head excludes eight pupils on his first day

Back at Trafalgar College, executive principal Ian Burchett who’s been head since Trafalgar opened has been replaced.  In a letter last month to parents, the Trust said GYCA’s deputy head Iain Mackintosh would become Trafalgar’s ‘Head of School’ with immediate effect.  

Mackintosh told the BBC Trafalgar College had ‘its own rules’ and, in the words of the BBC, ‘would not adopt GYCA’s strict ethos’.  But on his first day, he went for the nuclear option and sent home eight children on a short fixed-term exclusion. 

A spokesperson said the pupils were excluded for ‘repeated poor behaviour, refusing to follow instruction, and rudeness towards staff including swearing’.    These are unacceptable but the action taken doesn’t seem to reflect Trafalgar College’s behaviour policy.  This lists what appears to be a hierarchy of sanctions from lunchtime detentions to permanent exclusion. 

It is not known whether the excluded pupils had previously been subject to less draconian sanctions.  The BBC understands some of the pupils had special education needs but the Trust wouldn’t say how many.

Request for pre-opening cost of Trafalgar refused

The Department for Education has refused a request to reveal the pre-opening costs of Trafalgar College on the grounds it intends to publish them in the future.    This is the same excuse used for refusing to release free school Impact Assessments.  

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