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Wanstead primary school chairman of governors resigns in protest of diocese’s academisation plans

PUBLISHED: 13:20 11 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:32 11 December 2018

Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School Chair of Governors Greg Eglin is to step down over plans to make the school an Academy.

Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School Chair of Governors Greg Eglin is to step down over plans to make the school an Academy.

Archant

The chairman of governors of a Wanstead primary school is quitting in protest of the Diocese of Brentwood’s plans to turn it into an academy.

Parents gather in protest outside Our Lady of Lourdes Primary, in Chesnut Drive, on Tuesday, October 30. Photo: Paul DonovanParents gather in protest outside Our Lady of Lourdes Primary, in Chesnut Drive, on Tuesday, October 30. Photo: Paul Donovan

Gregor Eglin, 73, of Broadwalk, South Woodford, has announced that his 30 years on the board of Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, in Chestnut Drive, will come to an end when the current term finishes this month.

“I am really, really sad to leave,” he said.

“But I am standing down because I am opposed to academies.”

As reported by the Recorder earlier this month, schools in Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham are set to come under the control of catholic multi-academy trust (CMAT) called the Good Shepherd Catholic Trust,

This group already oversees Palmer Catholic High, in Aldborough Road South.

As an academy, the school would become independent of the local authority and receive its funding directly from the Department for Education.

Explaining his decision, Mr Eglin said: “I think education should be the responsibility of the local democratically-elected council.

“It shouldn’t be the responsibility of big business or the diocese or anything like that.

He cited concerns about the “mixed history” of academies in relation to worsening staff conditions and financial difficulties.

“If the Bishop argues this will protect Catholic education - I believe it will do quite the opposite,” he said.

“We should be spreading out into the world and not retreating from it.”

He added: “[Our Lady of Lourdes] is an outstanding school and it has probably the best leadership team I have ever seen.”

Among the numerous reasons cited by Bishop of Brentwood Alan Williams in favour of academisation is that “the direct funding of academies has reduced the capacity of local authorities” to support schools.

On November 15, the diocese held a meeting with concerned parents of at the school.

A document of answers to questions posed at the meeting has since been uploaded to their website and gives further arguments in favour of academisation, such as the “ability to employ specialist staff across all the schools, agreeing common shared ethos, policies and practice”.

However, on Friday (December 7) a group called Our Lady of Lourdes parents issued an open letter against the move.

The Diocese of Brentwood has been contacted for further comment.

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