GENE BRODIE, our education correspondent, reports on the mysterious case of the disappearing school staff
Parents who are considering sending their child to one of the growing number of academies, primary and secondary, that are run by the Harris Federation in Croydon might want to consider a new kind of schools performance table.
They might want to consider the rate of staff turnover in Harris schools, such as the “flagship” City Academy Crystal Palace, where 114 teachers and support staff have left in the past two years alone.
This apparently high-rate of staff turnover is unlikely to be indicative of a happy staff room, nor is it usually a sign of a stable teaching environment. And it could be particularly embarrassing for the Harris Federation, which was founded by Lord Harris, the carpet salesman and generous Tory party donor, which has offices in Croydon and whose very well-paid CEO, Sir Daniel Moynihan, was previously the headmaster at the Crystal Palace school.
Based on research conducted through a Freedom of Information request from the Anti-Academies Alliance, The Grauniad reported, “More than 1,000 teachers have left schools in the Harris Federation over the past three academic years…
“The data shows 465 teachers leaving Harris schools in 2014-2015, 422 in 2013-2014 and 375 in 2012-2013.”
The newspaper noted that it could not obtain full statistics to discover the proportion of each school’s staff who had to be replaced each year. The paper reported that Department for Education statistics suggest that “the figure could be as high as 30 per cent, though this is disputed by Harris. Latest DfE data records that Harris schools employed 1,116 teachers as of 2013-2014”.
And while Harris may dispute the idea that its schools are churning over nearly one-third of their staff each year, the figures for the number of departures from some of its Croydon “academies” appear to be among the highest of all its schools.
In all, 58 teachers and support staff left Harris Crystal Palace by the end of the last summer term. That was two more than the 56 who had left during the 2013-2014 school year.
The two secondary schools in South Norwood and Upper Norwood which have been handed over into Harris’s care and control, the former Stanley Tech of Captain Sensible fame and the one-time Westwood High, report similarly high churn among their staff, as the schools undergo a form of amalgamation. Last year, the combined figure for departing staff from the two schools was 64, an improvement on the 2013-2014 school year when 90 staff opted to seek employment elsewhere.
Harris’s Purley Academy has seen 26 and 27 staff leave in each of the last two years, and the impact of the forced academisation of the former Roke Primary may account for why 22 staff members left during 2013-2014. Nine staff left the primary school during the most recent academic year.
It is Harris which is pressing Croydon Council to build it another primary school, alongside the Purley Way, despite strong evidence that a school on such a site would create extra traffic on the already busy A23 and subject its pupils’ developing lungs to unhealthy levels of air pollution.
All this may also be set against the salary paid to Sir Daniel Moynihan, the former school teacher turned Harris Federation chief executive.
In 2013-2014, Moynihan received an inflation-busting 13 per cent pay hike , which sees him paid more than twice as much as the Prime Minister: £375,611.
So at least one member of Harris staff is happy.
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