Staff walkout at Moulsecoomb Primary in protest at academy plans

Posted On 21 Nov 2019 at 11:13 am

The picket line at Moulsecoomb this morning. Picture from the NEU

Dozens of school teachers and staff at Moulsecoomb Primary School have walked out this morning in protest at plans to turn it into an academy.

The government ordered that the school be handed over to an academy trust in June, after it was rated inadequate by Ofsted in May.

Members of the NEU, GMB and Unison unions have all voted unanimously on full turnouts to strike. Members of the NEU and GMB are walking out today, with Unison due to set a date later.

Staff and parents concerns have grown since it was announced that the trust set to take over the school is New Horizons, which previously had to hand over another school it converted in Worthing after more than half the staff quit.

The trust which took over The Laurels in Worthing, Durrington Multi Academy Trust, suggested that there was financial mismanagement – which NEw Horizons strongly denies.

Instead, it has blamed the disastrous conversion on the Worthing school’s staff, saying its “values did not align”.

It has also told parent campaigners, who call themselves Hands Off Moulsecoomb, that those leading the school “did not place the same level of importance on all aspects needed to run a successful and sustainable school.”

The trust has so far failed to respond to requests from councillors and Brighton and Hove News to see the minutes of its trustees meetings, which its articles of association say must be publicly available.

Brighton and Hove councillors from all parties have voted to oppose the plans, and a report on the suitability of New Horizons is to be prepared for the Children, Young People and Skills Committee.

However, the decision ultimately rests with the Regional Schools Commissioner, which has said it intends to press ahead with the plans.

One possibly way the order could be dropped is if the school is reinspected by Ofsted. The school has seen a big improvement in its SATS results, so if reinspected there is a good chance it could improve its rating.

  1. Peter Challis Reply

    If only the school and the council had taken any notice of the poor OFSTED ratings earlier rather than ignoring them, and in the case of the council, congratulating themselves on the city’s excellent results.

    Perhaps, rather than trying to attack the trust assigned to take over running the school, they should blame the council and the school staff for letting the situation develop before taking any action.

    It also seems that staff are more worried about the impact on their own jobs rather than the education of the children by striking.

  2. Matt Reply

    The school is in an area with far higher than national levels of social deprivation, children with special educational needs, children entitled to free school meals and children ho have English as a second langauge.

    Children who are at risk of being “off-rolled” by Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) desperate to boost “results” basically.

    The local authority are putting great effort into the school and have already made demonstrable improvements (such as recent SAT results).

    Unlike Local Authorities, MATs can simply walk away when it all goes wrong as it frequently does when the local democratic accountability disappears and high paid CEOs have taken their cut of the school funds.

    BHCC oversee dozens of very good schools – NAHT have overseen two as far as I am aware – one which needs more funding to be “viable” (hence the NAHT need to “grow” their empire) and another (in nearby Worthing) which they either abandoned or were kicked out of, resulting in a demonstrable detriment to the educational provision of said school.

    The real issue here is school funding.

    Schools that have pupils with special educational needs do not recieve the funding that they need to facilitate that.

    Moulsecoomb Primary has seen huge cuts to their funding over the last few years. The local authority have done everything they can (as have trade unions) to protect jobs and standards but without money they need to pay for staff and other things… well, you get the picture.

    The issue is funding – MATs do not get any further funding and neither do they have “magic wands” denied to the local authority.

    So when we consider the fundamental funding issue – how can an undemocratically appointed MAT be trusted to improve the school with the same resources?

    And those “staff” you refer to disparagingly are the same community who have often either been to Moulsecoomb Primary themselves or have children attending it – not inconcievably both!

  3. Lorraine Overington Reply

    I saw a video today of their protests outside the school. People dressed as the grim reaper following a Child’s size coffin. Absolutely disgusting.
    We are part of Horizon academy and we have a fantastic school.
    If they don’t accept the help offered their school will close, it’s as simple as that. They go on about living in a deprived area but don’t want their children to have a better one. Makes you wonder

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