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24th January 2014

The fight is on to save Rushey Mead Secondary School

On 17th June 2013, governors at Rushey Mead Secondary School met to discuss whether to investigate academy status. The following communication was sent out on behalf of the chair of governors the following day:

Sent on behalf of Ann White, Chair of Governors

Dear all,

As you may be aware, the governors met for their scheduled termly meeting yesterday and continued their discussions with regard to academy status as part of the agenda. The governors are all committed to ensuring the staff at Rushey Mead are well informed with regard to any decisions relating to academies and have asked me to communicate with you at the earliest possible opportunity.

It is really important to stress that the governors are not yet in a position to decide whether Rushey Mead will become an academy or not. The meeting yesterday considered whether to apply for £25,000 funding from the Department for Education to explore the matter further (including legal aspects with relation to BSF) and to undertake a consultation process.

Having considered arguments and points of view from all governors present, breaking into groups to allow all to voice their opinions, a proposal was made; to consider academies further, applying for funding to support those considerations and to undertake a consultation process. The governors then voted on this proposal and it was passed, meaning that the governors have resolved to apply for the £25,000 funding.

Once the funding has been released, governors will be drawing up a timeline for consultation and exploration of issues with relation to a potential conversion to academy status. As soon as this timeline is put together it will be shared with you. The timeline of activities, including the consultation will not begin until after the summer holiday as it will need to be given due time, with all necessary matters carefully considered.

In the meantime if you have any specific questions please feel free to contact me, Carolyn or Matt.

Ann White Chair of Governors

What followed was a period of consultation. Large numbers of staff expressed their opposition by writing to the governors; these letters from staff were not initially passed on to governors. The outcome of the consultation, which is available on the school's website, showed no great appetite for conversion and demonstrated that, aside form the trade unions' opposition, a majority of staff, the Local Authority, the City Council and the ex-headteacher of the school were vehemently opposed to conversion. No positive reasons have ever been put forward explaining how conversion will benefit education in the city of pupils at Rushey Mead.

Since the consultation finished last October, everybody has been told that the governors are not in a position to make a decision and that they are continuing to investigate the possibility of converting. Governors meet again on 4th February to decide whether they are now in a position to make a decision.

Now, take a look at the DfE's website which details academy conversions - go to
Open academies and academy projects in development and click on 'publications list spreadsheet'. (You will need Excel or Excel Viewer.)

Rushey Mead School's name appears as a school whose application to convert has been granted. So when did the DfE receive this application? I have made a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all minutes from meetings pertaining to academy conversion and am due to receive those papers this week. It seems very likely though that the application was made following the governors' meeting on 17th June 2013, prior to any consultation and while staff, the LA, and possibly governors themselves, were still under the belief that they were investigating the pros and cons! Who made that application and with what authority?

We once again call on governors to reject these flawed proposals and ask why Rushey Mead's name appears on a list of schools who have applied to become an academy.

 

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