Campaigners lobby Norwich MP to take Hewett School fight to government
PUBLISHED: 10:17 21 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:17 21 February 2015
Archant Norfolk 2015
Campaigners fighting for the future of the Hewett School are lobbying their MP to turn up the pressure on government.
More than a dozen people, carrying protest placards, went to the office of Norwich South MP Simon Wright yesterday.
They are battling against a government decision to block the creation of a “learning village”, as it appears the school is being railroaded into becoming an academy after being put into special measures by Ofsted in November.
More than 700 people have signed a petition organised by Green city councillor Stephen Little calling for the Cecil Road school not to become an academy.
And campaigners have urged Mr Wright to hold Lord Nash, parliamentary under secretary of state for education, to account.
Joanna Smith, who has two children at the Hewett’s sixth form, was among the group that lobbied Mr Wright.
“I’m very opposed to academies,” she said. “I think my children’s education will suffer if it becomes an academy.”
Laura Middleton, 36, of Lakenham, is a former Hewett pupil.
“I believe this is corruption at the highest level,” she said. “It’s David vs Goliath politics.”
She added it was “disgusting” that Lord Nash overturned the local plans.
Lesley Grahame, city councillor for Thorpe Hamlet ward, said: “We should be listening to local parents, and it’s outrageous that the government is overturning the wishes of parents, governors and staff.”
Speaking after the meeting with campaigners, Mr Wright said: “It was good to meet with local parents and campaigners who are concerned about the future of the school.
“I have concerns over the approach taken by the Department for Education (DfE) in regard to the local proposals that have been put forward.
“I think the county council proposals for an IEB to oversee the future of the school were the right way to go, so I’m disappointed the DfE appear to be putting a block to that.
“I’ll be going back to Lord Nash, reasserting my view that the future of the school should be driven by local representatives.”
He said Norfolk County Council had to be in the “driving seat” as the local education authority.
“It is in the best position to work with the local community to secure the future of the school,” he said. “I’ll be making that point to Lord Nash.
“Unless there are very good reasons not to, the local education authority should be supported in the current process.”
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