Parents have hit back at a letter from a headteacher published in yesterday’s Argus.
The letter from Hove Park School’s Derek Trimmer was the first time he had spoken publicly about the school’s plans to become an academy.
Sharon Duggal, from the parent pressure group Hands Off Hove Park, has responded below.
MR Trimmer talks about listening but it is clear he is refusing to hear - as reflected in his choice to write a controlled letter presenting his proposal rather than enter into a dialogue to discuss the many concerns about the proposal with the wider school community.
To paint these genuine concerns as just being from the loudest voices is both remiss and insulting to the ordinary mums and dads involved at the school.
A letter from Mr Trimmer allows him to put forward his rather glossed over but ultimately superficial proposal for academy status for the school and dismisses the need to provide properly evidenced, well researched responses to the concerns of parents and carers as well as the wider local community.
There is nothing presented in his letter or in the literature presented by the school that explains how this academy route will benefit children across the city now or in the future or puts the needs of local communities first.
Quotes about standards and improvements are a spin – and we deserve better than that.
The question that is being avoided the most in the recent school presentations and from the many submitted letters to the school’s consultation email address is about the future.
Where are the safeguards for the future? Plans are not guarantees.
Plans to honour pay and conditions may apply to current staff but what about new and future staff?
Unqualified teachers are already teaching in the school in spite of reassurances that this wouldn’t happen.
There is even less protection for this under academy status.
And money for new buildings is no more guaranteed for academies than it is for local authority schools.
It is this complete lack of safeguarding for the future that is the real worry.
Once an academy, plans can be changed at any point and the reasons given will be ‘shifts in education landscape’ or ‘budget issues’.
Frankly, allowing these uncertainties to occur is just not good enough for children and young people.
Mr Trimmer and his team will move on at some point, this is inevitable.
Without local accountability the school is then open to all sorts of risks from undesirable sponsors to admissions systems that do not serve local families.
When this happens it will be local communities that are left to suffer, leaving the senior leadership team at Hove Park free to move on to the next vanity project.
The Hove Park School governors have a great and unenviable responsibility to make sure any decision around academy status is not just about the next couple of years with Mr Trimmer at the helm, but for all those children about to enter year seven and all the primary-aged children in the feeder schools further down the line.
If they find this responsibility too much they should open it up to a democratic process of ‘one person, one vote’ which includes parents and carers and school staff.
This is the only way Mr Trimmer and the governing body can truly listen.