Councillor raises concerns over school’s academy bid

Scarborough Councillor John Ritchie
Scarborough Councillor John Ritchie

Concerns have been raised about the level of consultation with parents as Hinderwell School moves closer to becoming an academy.

Cllr John Ritchie, who represents Falsgrave Park ward and is also a County Councillor, says he believes the school is being “bullied” into becoming an academy by central Government.

He said: “People have already been told it’s becoming an academy. I believe the decision was taken weeks ago. There’s nothing wrong with academies - they can work - but they’re not the only answer and schools should not be forced into it.

“The school has produced no evidence that they’ve had a balanced look at this and considered the alternatives.”

Academies are publicly funded schools which operate outside of local authority control. The government describes them as independent state-funded schools.

Essentially, academies have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, the curriculum, and teachers’ pay and conditions.

Cllr Ritchie has voiced his concerns in a letter to Jim Martin, chairman of the school’s interim executive board. He said: “It is my belief that the local authority has the expertise to bring about the rapid improvement which is needed at Hinderwell and the governors’ decision was ill considered and not evidence based.”

A spokesperson from North Yorkshire County Council said a meeting with parents had now taken place, adding: “There is a very clear expectation from the Department for Education that all schools in special measures should transfer to academy status. The school is therefore consulting on becoming an academy sponsored by the David Ross Education Trust (DRET).”

County Councillor Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire’s executive member for schools, said: “Our key priority in North Yorkshire is that all children should have access to the very best in educational provision. They deserve nothing less. “We are supporting Hinderwell and will work with all partners to make sure children in the community are given quality teaching and learning and that the school comes out of special measures as soon possible.”