Brentwood: Council and parents oppose plan to 'academise' school + UPDATE

  • Staff writer
  • (Updated )

Our Lady of Lourdes school parents, children and staff protest against academisation.

Our Lady of Lourdes school parents, children and staff protest against academisation.

Around 70 parents at Our Lady of Lourdes primary school in Redbridge gathered recently to oppose the 'academisation' of the school.
The meeting held at the Manor House heard how academisation amounts to privatisation of the education system.

The proposal to turn Our Lady of Lourdes Primary school into an academy is part of a wider plan by the Diocese of Brentwood to turn all its schools in Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham into academies.

The schools would then be run by a multi academy trust linked to the Catholic Church.

Academisation takes the schools out of local authority control, giving independent status and funding. Academies also take the land that the school is built on.

Chairman of Our Lady of Lourdes governors, Greg Eglin is implacably opposed to the school being turned into an academy. He claimed the whole process flies in the face of Catholic Social teaching.

Also attending the meeting were Wanstead Village councillors Paul Donovan and Jo Blackman, councillors Ann and Martin Sachs plus Cabinet member responsible for children and families Elaine Norman, who indicated a willingness to meet with Bishop of Brentwood, Alan Williams to discuss the matter.

"I was extremely sad and disappointed when I heard of the diocese of Brentwood's plans to require all Catholic schools in Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham to form a multi-academy trust," said Mrs Norman.

"I am committed to the Local Authority's role in educating our children, it ensures local accountability and ensures our parents are integral partners in their children's education. I am proud of our schools and the fantastic level of education they provide to our children. These high standards are the result of many years of co-operation and hard work between our schools and the Council. Why put these achievements at risk.

"There is no guarantee that a multi-academy trust will continue to maintain these standards and the Council will have no oversight of these schools."

"Redbridge will be opposing this proposal. Colin Stewart, Director of Education and Inclusion, and myself would be happy to meet with Bishop Williams to discuss these issues."

Councillor Donovan said: "The parents are clearly unhappy with the way this whole process has been handled seemingly being slid through on the quiet. Minimally the consultation process needs to be extended to give the parents a chance to have their say.

"There has been a real lack of consultation with relevant stakeholders regarding academisation.

"In the case of Our Lady of Lourdes, the matter has been hardly mentioned in the parish, yet it was the parishioners who originally raised a large amount of the money to build the school. Academisation would see the school and land it is built on disappearing into a trust.

"I also suspect that there could be a similar situation with the other schools that the Brentwood diocese wants to turn into academies."

Robert Simpson, Director of Education for the Diocese of Brentwood,

commented: "After a wide and comprehensive consultation, the Bishop along with diocesan officers developed an academisation plan to be implemented over the course of the next three years. This plan has proved largely popular with schools, head teachers and parents.

"We are more than happy to have further dialogue with parents to inform them about our academisation plans, as they are the primary educators of their children.

"All schools in the Diocese of Brentwood are under the authority of the Bishop, and it's his informed decision to move forward with these plans, thus moving the diocese in line with the prevailing national trend towards academisation."

Both Westminster and Southwark Dioceses have already taken some schools down the academy route.

Tags: Academy School, Brentwood,

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