Councillors to debate academy ruling after Brighton school’s poor official report

The poor Ofsted report received by Moulsecoomb Primary School is expected to lead to heated discussions at a meeting next week.

Campaigners have already started to fight an “academy order” isued by the Department for Education’s regional schools commissioner, requiring the school to become an “academy school”.

The order was issued after the school was rated “inadequate” by official inspectors.

On Monday (17 June) members of Brighton and Hove City Council are expected to discuss the school’s Ofsted report and the academy order.

The council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee is due to hold its first meeting since the local elections when a number of recent Ofsted reports are on the agenda.

Labour councillor Nick Childs, the new chair of the committee, has already announced plans to ballot parents and staff.

He said that the council wanted to keep the school, in The Highway, in the family of local authority maintained schools.

Councillor Elaine Hills, who speaks for the opposition Greens on the committee, said that Ofsted ratings did not take into account how well schools cared for children.

She said that the school was known for its care, guidance and mental health support in an area which is one of the 20 per cent most deprived areas in England.

Councillor Hills said that the report showed that the school was helping its disadvantaged children achieve in line with other pupils.

She said that she was concerned that “academy status” would not help the school or its children as the Institute of Education had said that two thirds of academy chains performed below average for disadvantaged pupils.

And recent studies suggested that schools with lower Ofsted ratings were much more likely to improve under local authority control.

Councillor Hills said: “Our city’s schools have been starved of the funding they need by the Conservative government. Many are losing the specialist staff, resources and support they need to succeed.

“In this context, it is even more vital that our city’s schools have access to the training, best practice and support offered by the local authority.

“Greens have always opposed academies – and will continue to insist that Moulsecoomb Primary remains part of our family of schools and is given the time and support it needs to improve.”

Another Ofsted report on the agenda next Monday is for St Mark’s Church of England Primary School, in Manor Road, Brighton.

The school was rated as “requires improvement” by Ofsted, having previously been rated “good”.

The committee papers said that three other schools had all maintained their good rating.

They were St Andrew’s Church of England Primary School, in Belfast Street, Hove, St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Primary School, in Whitehawk Hill Road, Brighton, and Patcham Junior School, in Ladies Mile Road, Brighton.

Across Brighton and Hove 90.4 per cent of primary schools were either good or outstanding, compared with 86.7 per cent nationally.

All Brighton and Hove’s secondary schools were rated good.

The council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall next Monday (17 June). The meeting is scheduled to start at 4pm and should be open to the public.

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