Teachers to quit Oval Primary before move to Academy

According to parents who attended the latest meeting at controversial Oval Primary on Wednesday, the majority of existing teaching staff plan to resign ahead of the school’s handover to an educational group headed by a leading Tory party millionaire.

Conservative-controlled Croydon Council’s efforts to demonstrate how “on message” they can be with the academies policy of Education Secretary Michael Gove looks certain to create even more uncertainty and disruption for the children at Oval, following previous mishandled interventions over the school’s management.

At Wednesday’s meeting, parents were told that the new school is to be called ARK Oval Primary Academy. “Sounds stupid in my opinion,” one mother, angry at the council’s experiment with her children’s school, told Inside Croydon.

Parents had been told that they would not have to buy uniforms for their children if they kept them at the school after ARK moves in to the Cherry Orchard Road buildings in September. ARK stands for Absolute Return for Kids, an “alternative investment” run by hedge fund managers and merchant bankers, including Lord Fink, a former Conservative party chairman.

“Uniforms will be not be given to us until September and all we know is it will be grey, maroon and gold,” the concerned parent said.

After the council’s bungled handover of the school to another education foundation in February and an appointment of a replacement head who turned down the job, Oval is now effectively on its fourth headteacher in months. The fifth, ARK’s appointment, was introduced to parents yesterday as Sonia Rutherford.

According to the parents, Rutherford has more experience of working in education than the management at ARK. But only just: she has been a teacher only since 2000.

“I feel this is unacceptable,” the dissatisfied parent told Inside Croydon.

“The majority of the teachers have quit, meaning no one will know who is teaching their children till September,” she said.

This will be particularly unsettling to the pupils with special educational needs who attend Oval. Some parents suspect that this is part of the council’s and ARK’s agenda, to “persuade” parents to take these children out of the school so that its league table performances improve – the school has been on Ofsted “special measures” for more than a year.

When our source questioned the school’s policy on SEN pupils, “Basically I was brushed off. I told the new head that I don’t accept any of the changes and that the school is about to be ruined.

“I will fight and moan about everything every day that my children continue to attend this money-sucking company. You can’t call it a school anymore.”

Yesterday, Education minister Gove announced his grandiose plan to hand over hundreds of state primary schools to private businesses and charities. It appears that by having Oval Primary among the first of the new primary academies, Croydon councillors are playing with children’s futures to help further their own political ambitions. Certainly, any argument about “raising standards” does not stand up in ARK’s case, since Oval was improving more rapidly than two of the schools already run by ARK.

Making his announcement, Gove said, “Wherever possible, we want to find solutions that everyone can agree on, as we have done with the vast majority of the secondary schools that will become academies next year.”

So what happens at schools like Oval, where the changes are unacceptable to a majority of parents?

Is it just a case that as far as our “listening” government and Croydon Council are concerned, the only thing they ever hear is when money talks?

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to Teachers to quit Oval Primary before move to Academy

  1. We hear that a former parent governor, now a member of Oval Primary’s interim education board (IEB), has said that the majority of the school’s parents are in favour of ARK’s takeover.

    It is shocking that someone can reach this conclusion from a meeting held at 4pm on a weekday and attended by just 15 or so other parents.

    The majority of Oval Primary parents I have spoken to are AGAINST the school becoming an academy, they put a block on the name of the schools name change (so now the school in September will be called ARK Oval Primary Academy), and they are definitely not happy with the fact the teachers are resigning.

    This shows just how out of touch the IEB were with the parents and the school. There was no consultation with the parents at ANY time, and having spoken to a few teachers, they are dismayed at the future of the school. They say that they didn’t get in to teaching to work in situations like this.

    The IEB, appointed when Croydon Council dismissed the governors, clearly hasn’t got a clue. From my talks with many other parents and teachers, they are bluntly against this.

    The thing is, are we too late to stop this?? I am not sure but on Monday I shall be looking to get parents, teachers and staff to fill in a petition against this taking place, and for the sake of the children at the school.

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