Silver Birch CEO told me to cheat in SATs says former head: Panorama investigates

Janet Downs's picture

 The Chief Executive of Silver Birch Academy, Patricia Davies, ‘ordered schools to cheat in SATs tests’, a former head teacher told Panorama.

 In a programme to be aired tonight at 20.30, former head Suzanne Barham said she had been ordered to change test scores at three Silver Birch schools in 2017.  She told the BBC that pupils in another school were given answers during the tests.  She complied because she was afraid of losing her job.

 Panorama also spoke to parents at Longshaw Primary School, one of Silver Birch’s four primary schools, who described how children came out of school after SATs talking about the help they’d been given.  The Standards and Testing Agency investigated but let the results stand.

 Silver Birch Academy Trust has been the centre of controversy for some years because of financial irregularities.   It was eventually sent a financial notice to improve in June 2018.    Davies resigned in October after Silver Birtch was taken over by new trustees.  The new board found the trust was nearly insolvent.

 All of the schools have been rebrokered and the trust will be dissolved.

 Incredibly, Silver Birch Academy Trust still appears on list of approved academy sponsors, recently updated on 22 March.


Panorama's investigation will be available online shortly after broadcast. 

ADDENDUM 22.47  Panorama also found that Patricia Davies employed members of her family in the trust.  She also authorised the refurbishment of a caretaker's house which she then allowed her daughter to live in it rent free.



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John Mountford's picture
Tue, 26/03/2019 - 21:58

It is truly incredible, Janet, that Silver Birch Academy Trust still appears to be on the list of sponsors approved to run schools. It is time for this corrupt government to be kicked out. The only problem is, where are we going to find ANY party fit for government at this time. I have no faith that ANY of our MPs can rise to the challenge of cleaning up the mess left by successive governments dating back decades. However, I have two suggestions worthy of consideration.

To build an education system fit for our ALL young people we must remove education from the deadly grip of the party political system. In place of this caustic, chaotic, archaic set-up I call for the formation of a National Commission of Education Governance, with membership reflecting the future needs of our society, from pupils, parents, teachers, politicians, business people and academics.

To restore our once great model of democracy we need urgent reform of the electoral system. I call for the full introduction and immediate implementation of proportional representation. As things stand it is otherwise likely that our society will be, and remain for decades into the future, fragmented in the tragic aftermath of the appalling mismanagement of Brexit (for no other outcome is even remotely likely). If this latest tragedy to befall our nation teaches us nothing else, it must convince us that unless we learn to form effective and committed coalitions in government at all levels and work to resolve the great issues that threaten our future nationally and globally, we forfeit the right to call ourselves responsible custodians of our one world.

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