Parents of children at Oval Primary school last night met staff from ARK, the academy specialists who look set to take over the running of the East Croydon school in September. One parent described as a “bribe” the new staff’s offer of free uniforms for those pupils whose parents do not transfer them.
When the changeover happens, it means that Croydon Council will have overseen five different head teachers at the school in little more than six months.
But with Tim Pollard, the deputy leader of Croydon’s ruling Conservative group, having to juggle his workload for children, young people and learners with his recently added responsibilities for business and regeneration, farming schools out of council control might seem like the sensible option to him.
Pollard has never apologised to Oval Primary parents, pupils and teachers for the mismanagement of the school in February, when the established headteacher was forced out of her job and a school federation from Lambeth was parachuted in with no notice.
Some parents remain angry about the way that the council has handled the school and their children, and the transparently obvious manner in which academy status has been pursued by Pollard and the council’s education department.
For no capital costs, ARK will get use of Oval Primary’s impressive-looking buildings, and receive the school’s annual budget direct from the education department, bypassing any involvement from the local council. At last night’s meeting, parents were told that the school will be needlessly renamed the Ark Bayes Academy, after the 18th century mathematician Thomas Bayes, who has no known connection with Croydon.
With several parents openly considering removing their children from the school if it takes academy status, ARK’s response was to offer free school uniforms to all pupils. One parent described this as a “bribe”.
Parents are also concerned at ARK’s record, suggesting that as many as two of the schools that it already manages in other London boroughs are also on “special measures” after critical reports by Ofsted inspectors. ARK has offered to hold open days at its schools for Oval parents by way of reassurance – a vast improvement, it must be said, on the complete lack of any consultation by Croydon and the Gipsy Hill Federation when they were brought into Oval in February, and they lasted less than 48 hours.
- Oval parents sent round in circles over academy status (insidecroydon.wordpress.com)
- Oval Primary parents summoned to meeting on academy status (insidecroydon.wordpress.com)
- Pollard back at the Hub of action after council reshuffle (insidecroydon.wordpress.com)
- Council sacks £200k headteacher Craig Tunstall who suspended seven pupils (dailymail.co.uk)