‘Heartbreaking’: Parents protest academisation of Newbury Park school following ‘Inadequate’ rating

William Torbitt Primary School is set to become an academy after being rated inadequate by Ofsted.

William Torbitt Primary School is set to become an academy after being rated inadequate by Ofsted. - Credit: Archant

A Newbury Park primary school is being converted into an academy after being rated Inadequate by Ofsted – but more than 940 have signed a petition against the move.

Parents, carers and community members are gathering outside William Torbitt Primary school, in Eastern Avenue, on December 19 to protest an academisation order issued by the Department for Education (DfE).

The order was imposed after the school was rated poorly by Ofsted in June 2018.

Among the issued highlighted in the report were concerns “safeguarding was not effective”, that “leaders do not investigate incidents of bullying” and “overly harsh behaviour management” by staff.

But strengths included “strong” provision for special educational needs and a “varied” curriculum.

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

Turabi Ay, who is leading the campaign against the plans, told the Recorder he “acknowledges there were failings”.

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He said: “But, after much hard work from all staff members, these highlighted issues have been overcome within a very short period by implementing new systems and staff training.”

He said: “It’s heartbreaking that the hard work put into place will not be acknowledged by those in government.”

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young people, is calling for the school to remain under local authority control agreeing that it has made “significant progress”.

She said: “The staff and parents do not feel that becoming an academy is necessary and are confident that the school can maintain this progress with the support of the local authority.”

However a DfE spokesman said: “When we see issues of underperformance we will not hesitate to take swift action.

“Whilst we are always keen to hear the views of parents and staff, our priority is, and always should be, the wellbeing, safeguarding and education of pupils.”

He added that a public consultation about the plan to convert William Torbitt Primary School to an academy will be formally run once an academy sponsor has been confirmed.

Read the petition here.

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