Parents and teachers oppose plans to convert Chadwell Heath primary school into academy

Parents and staff are opposed to the Diocese of Brentwood taking over St Bede's Primary School as pa

Parents and staff are opposed to the Diocese of Brentwood taking over St Bede's Primary School as part of The Good Shepherd Trust. Picture: Andrew Parsons - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Parents and staff at a Chadwell Heath Catholic primary school are opposing plans to convert it to an academy.

The Good Shepherd Trust, which is controlled by the Diocese of Brentwood, plans to convert St Bede's Catholic Primary School and Nursery in Canon Avenue, to join the seven schools that are already part of its academy across Barking, Dagenham and Redbridge.

Campaigners against the conversion plans are holding a public meeting, Keep St Bede's in Public Hands, on Friday, February 21 which is set to be attended by Ilford South MP Sam Tarry and councillors.

Gemma Mackenzie, a parent of pupils at the school and staff rep for the GMB union, said: "As a parent, worker and former pupil of St Bede's, I am deeply troubled at the plans to change the status of our school.

"We haven't seen any compelling reason to do this, and as an academy our school would be out of public hands for good - this decision is irreversible."

Gemma added that she felt the decision was being rushed through, despite risks for the current staff.

Depending on how talks go at the public meeting on Friday, NEU staff at St Bede's have also threatened to go on strike on February 27.

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Councillor Paul Donovan, who is part of the Redbridge Against Academisation campaign group, said: "The question must be when will the Diocese of Brentwood start listening to parents and what they want for their children?

"The efforts to railroad the academisation of schools through in the diocese of Brentwood is attracting growing opposition across the boroughs effected, as parents learn just what the consequences are of academisation.

"They do not want to move away from the family of local authority schools based in the community into the uncertain world of academisation."

Last year parents at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary school in Wanstead had to abandon their challenge to the school being converted into an academy due to the prohibitive legal costs involved.

Our Lady of Lourdes joined St Peter and Paul's in Ilford, St Joseph's in Barking, St Joseph's and St Teresa in Dagenham in the first round of schools to join the Good Shepherd Trust with Palmer Catholic Academy and St Aidan's Catholic Academy already being members.

However in Newham, St Angela's abandoned plans to become an academy after teachers went on strike.

Staff at St Michael's in East Ham held a strike last week over plans to academise.

Leader of the Redbridge Conservative Group Cllr Linda Huggett said: "The quality of our childrens' education in Redbridge is paramount. We are always keen to hear the views of parents and staff that have concerns over any proposed changes. The priority is, and always should be, the education and wellbeing of the pupils.

"We will work with the school, the parents and diocese to ensure that the education standards continue to be upheld."

The public meeting on the plans will be held on Friday, February 21 at 5pm at the Grove Social Club.

The Recorder reached out to the Diocese of Brentwood for comment but did not hear back ahead of publication.