Worthing primary school to join academy but union slams consultation process

The planned academisation of a Worthing primary school has been criticised by a trade union.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 9:17 am

Whytemead Primary School in Dominion Road has approached the Department for Education (DfE) to begin the process of joining Schoolsworks Multi-Academy Trust in September.

But trade union UNISON has accused the school’s governors of failing to carry out an adequate consultation.

West Sussex branch secretary Dan Sartin said he had ‘failed to receive the information or assurances we would expect’.

Whytemead Primary School

“There is no national academic evidence available that academy status improves either funding or educational outcomes for children,” said Mr Sartin.

“Yet the chair of the board of governors, Peter Morrod, does not feel obliged to engage in any debate about that and instead has provided the local community with the fait accompli of transferring what is a wonderful community school to an unaccountable multi-academy chain.

“We call on Mr Morrod to go back to the drawing board. Before he pushes this through with the minimum possible engagement with parents, staff, community and unions, we wish to see a timetabled, full public consultation where the decision resides with the stakeholders, not one person.”

Whytemead’s business plan says calls have been set up with parents as what it called a ‘consultation’, but the application process with the DfE had already started.

Staff have also been informed of the intention to begin the TUPE process that would see their employment transferred from the county council so Schoolworks.

The school’s thoughts turned to academisation after a disappointing Ofsted inspection in 2018, which resulted in new governors being appointed.

In 2020, the school received support from Schoolsworks when then-head teacher Gavin Ward fell ill and later retired.

Discussions then began with academy groups and staff and two meetings with parents were held before half-term, to which Mr Morrod said UNISON was invited – a claim the union refutes.

Mr Morrod added that he understood TUPE was an important part of the consultation process and a meeting led by the local authority, with all staff and union representives invited, took place yesterday (June 8).

The business plan says it was decided that academising would provide stability and leadership, a larger support network, access to new ideas and opportunities for pupils.