Academy school ‘safeguarding concerns’ to be highlighted at Redbridge Council meeting

Protestors also gathered outside William Torbitt Primary School, in Eastern Avenue on December 19. P

Protestors also gathered outside William Torbitt Primary School, in Eastern Avenue on December 19. Photo: Turabi Ay - Credit: Archant

Safeguarding concerns at academy schools in Redbridge are set to be placed under a spotlight at a Redbridge Council meeting this evening (January 17).

Councillors will debate whether to throw their full weight behind a community campaign to prevent the forced academisation of William Torbitt Primary School, in Eastern Avenue, at a full council meeting in Redbridge Town Hall.

The motion has been put forward by Councillor Elaine Norman cabinet member for children and young people.

Last month, she told the Recorder: “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.”

The school was issed an academisation order by the Department for Education (DfE) after it was rated poorly by Ofsted in June 2018, citing safeguarding as an area of concern.

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

Cllr Norman’s motion recognises that the school required “significant support” from the Council Support Improvement service and other Redbridge schools to address it safeguarding issues”.

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But adds that these have now been address and welcomes a follow-up inspection from Ofsted.

The motion also calls on the council to “highlight that there have been safeguarding concerns in academy schools in Redbridge, demonstrating that academy status is not a panacea [or remedy]”.

Officers will also be instructed to explore all options to fight off the academisation plans, including making representations to the DfE and regional school commissioner.

A huge crowd gathered outside of the school on December 19 to protest the plans.

Responding to the protest, a DfE spokesman told the Recorder: “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.”

Protestors are set to assemble outside the Town Hall again at 6.30pm tomorrow.