Parents divided over Paddock Wood Primary School academy


The decision of the governors of Paddock Wood Elementary School to become an academy angered parents.

The proposal has sparked divisions among parents at the school, with some accusing governors of not consulting them before approaching the Leigh Academies Trust.

A letter was sent to parents on December 6, explaining that the transformation of the school into an academy was being considered.

But it was feared it was almost a done deal when Leigh Academies Trust posted a job offer for teachers on social media, using a Paddock Wood hashtag. And Kent County Council told Kent Live the school “has applied to become an academy.”

But director Scott Opstad told us on Wednesday: “Any such decision would be subject to stakeholder consultation and detailed due diligence, which has not yet started. No decision will be made for a few months.”

Leigh Academies Trust is a non-profit, charitable company located in Strood, Medway. It has 23 primary and secondary academies serving young people aged 3 to 19.

A meeting was organized by the governors on Wednesday evening (January 30) in the form of a question-and-answer session for parents and caregivers.

Parent Charles Marshall, who has two children at Paddock Wood Elementary School, claimed the governors hastily arranged the meeting because he arranged a parent meeting for the following night, to which he invited the chairman of the governors and the director, neither of whom answered him, he said.

“The passions were at the rendezvous”

Speaking about the Governors’ meeting, he said: “It was a very heated debate, the passions were of course high. The point I made to the Governors and at the meeting was simply that there were people. at the meeting for the proposal and against the proposal but we can certainly all agree that people have the right to have a binding vote. “

He added: “All we ask of the governors is that they allow all parents and guardians – those who support the governors’ proposal as well as those who disagree – a binding vote on this proposal. academy of our local school. “

“It belongs to the local community”

“They have to inform, consult and propose a vote. Those three things. Then the governors have a legitimate and democratic mandate to proceed. Unless you give people a binding vote, the governors will not have their consent. parents live here. It belongs to the local community, ”he said.

Another parent, whom we agreed not to name, said: “There has been poor communication from the school from the start, so I was hoping the meeting would clear up a lot of unanswered questions. , I think this left a lot of parents feeling as anxious as they were before the meeting.

Paddock Wood Primary School

“I have no doubt that the governors have the best interests of the children at heart, it was very clear, but they did not present any compelling reasons to consider moving to an academy or seemed to have a deep knowledge of the academies when parents asked questions If there are other meetings, I hope the governors are better prepared.

“Joining Leigh Academy Trust is such an important decision for the school and Governors need to be more open about why it is being explored and how far along they really are in the process.”

Roger Gough, Cabinet Member of Kent County Council for Education

Principal Scott Opstad said: “As part of the strategic follow-up of the Governors of Labor at Paddock Wood Primary School, they considered future options to help the school maintain and develop the high quality supply that it offers.

“Currently, the school offers students a broad and rich curriculum as well as engaging and high-quality learning experiences and opportunities. As part of their review, the Governors offered to join Leigh Academies Trust as an option. As well as potentially securing future outcomes for students at Paddock Wood Primary School, this could strengthen bonds between families and students from nearby Mascalls, which is also part of the Trust.

“A decision will not be taken for a few months”

“Such a decision would be subject to stakeholder consultation and detailed due diligence, which have not yet started. No decision will be made for a few months.

“A large majority of parents and staff who have expressed their views are in favor of governors exploring this proposal. A very small number of parents have expressed concern.”

Kent County Council Education Chief Roger Gough said: “Kent County Council is aware that the governing bodies of two community primary schools have applied to become academies within the Leigh Academies Trust.

“KCC encourages all schools considering becoming an academy to seek information and input from all stakeholders, including parents / guardians, before the governing body makes a final decision.”

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