Simon Wright MP defends support for controversial moves to make Cavell Primary an academy
PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:14 22 March 2014
An MP has defended his decision to back controversial moves to turn a primary school into an academy, despite Ofsted saying it has improved and no longer requires special measures.
The future of Cavell Primary School, in Duckett Close, Norwich, has been at the centre of a bitter row since Norfolk County Council said it should become an academy after Ofsted said it was “inadequate” after an inspection last March.
The school’s governors, who preferred the alternative option of joining a co-operative learning trust with other nearby schools, were removed and replaced by an interim executive board (IEB).
The board last month opted for the academy option, despite a new Ofsted inspection improving the school’s rating to “requires improvement”, and taking it out of special measures.
Conservative, Labour and Green party representatives have signed an open letter calling on Norfolk County Council, the school’s interim governors and the Department for Education to stop the academy process.
The letter said: “The school had its own strong plan for improvement, which was approved by Ofsted as fit for purpose.
“More than that, in the most recent inspection, which took the school out of special measures, Ofsted has also recognised the school’s excellent progress despite the ongoing distraction of political interference in its governance.
“To attempt to force the school to become an academy now is to put blinkered dogma ahead of common sense.”
It was signed by former Conservative group leader on Norwich City Council Antony Little, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Norwich South Clive Lewis, and Green Party county councillor Richard Bearman.
Liberal Democrat MP Simon Wright, whose Norwich South constituency includes Cavell Primary School, declined to sign the letter.
He said: “I think the IEB has had a chance to review the evidence for several months and has been able to look at all aspects of the school and what is going to be best, and having gone through the evidence it has come up with a conclusion which it believes will sustain the continued improvement of the school.”
Parents running the Save Cavell campaign against the school becoming an academy said the change did not respect the will of the local community.
Mr Wright said: “I think it’s very difficult to assess democratically. The democratic body in this case is Norfolk County Council, and it instigated the IEB process.”
Rob Anthony, former Cavell chairman of governors, said the co-operative learning trust is seeking an opinion from a barrister about its planned legal challenge to the academisation process, and expects to file papers for a High Court challenge in the next two weeks.
Should Cavell Primary School become an academy? Write, with full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.