Group claims consultation on Worthing High academy is ‘flawed’

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FRUSTRATED parents and teaching staff feel their concerns about Worthing High School becoming an academy have not been listened to.

Despite opposition from teaching staff and parents, head teacher Alison Beer and the governors are pushing for the school to become a converter academy – a type of academy for successful schools, which does not involve a private sponsor.

An application to become an academy still needs to be sent to the Department for Education, but it is believed the school could become an academy in November, if approved.

The Worthing High Academy Action Group Committee was set up in response to the plans, and at the group’s most recent public meeting last Tuesday (June 26) at the Manor Sports Ground, in Georgia Avenue, parents said they felt they had been left out of the academy discussion.

Committee member Mark Slatter said: “We believe the consultation process has been seriously flawed and has failed to engage the vast majority of parents in any meaningful way. We don’t want our children to be taught by teachers who feel they’re being pushed into something they don’t want to do.”

The group gained more than 500 signatures for a petition they circulated, asking Mrs Beer to give more evidence about the financial benefits of converting to an academy.

But group members feel their concerns have not been listened to, and they say they have needed to make Freedom of Information requests to gain access to the minutes from governors’ meetings – minutes the group felt should be public.

Committee member Sarah Maynard said: “We want to know how much research they have done to make this monumental decision.

“This is a political decision. It’s driven by our Government’s policy and Michael Gove’s policy to turn virtually every school in the country into an academy.”

Lee Billingham said he had spoken to parents who had only heard the pro-academy argument.

He said: “There was a large group who said “it’s quite a good idea, isn’t it?’ But when you talk to them and break down the argument on both sides they quickly said ‘I’m not sure I like that’.”

A joint letter from the education unions described the move to academy status as “profoundly undemocratic”.

It added: “We ask the governors to pause to reflect on the damage this process is doing to the school and its reputation. Why not allow more time for a balanced debate?”

Mrs Beer has said the conversion will give Worthing High School “greater financial freedom, which can be used to serve the students”.