Parents are fighting against turning an Eastbourne school into an academy

St John's Meads School in Eastbourne (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150929-092232008
St John's Meads School in Eastbourne (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150929-092232008

Parents of pupils at an Eastbourne school are fighting against plans to make it into an academy.

They are calling for further consultation on the plans for St John’s Meads School to be taken over by the Diocese of Chichester Academy Trust.

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The parents argue the action will see “unelected trustees” having the final say over how the school is run – rather than school governors and local councillors.

Ruth Bowler, parent at the school, said, “We are shocked the decision around such an important and irreversible change to our successful school seems to have already been taken before consultation had even started.

“We were pleased [Eastbourne MP] Stephen Lloyd took our concerns so seriously and will be contacting both the school and the Dioceses.”

Another parent, David Whitecross said, “We don’t simply want to hear sale pitches from the academy chain set to gain from our school.

“We would like an informed discussion and for a ballot of parents to be carried out to ensure this is the genuine opinion of the school community.

“National data shows academies don’t get more money or improve standards so we think we are right to be sceptical.”

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Responding to these concerns, a spokesperson for The Diocese of Chichester Academy Trust said it was approached by the governing board of St John’s Meads to explore becoming an academy.

They said the Trust has met with parents and staff as part of a consultation to explain the proposed partnership.

The spokesperson said, “All parents and staff have had the opportunity to put forward their views which will be considered by the governors. The concerns raised relate to the wider national academy agenda, and specific well-founded anxieties about the behaviour of some Academy Trusts. DCAT has responded to all of these as part of the consultation.

“The Diocese of Chichester Academy Trust is a small trust of seven Church schools. The Trust celebrates each school’s individuality and ensures that all children achieve their God-given potential. As a Trust, thanks to the hard work of the dedicated staff in our schools, together, we have seen some significant positive outcomes for the children in our schools.”