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Parents call for halt in St James Junior School academy transition

By The Citizen  |  Posted: December 20, 2013


Parents and children at the school gates

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Parents opposing plans for St James Church of England Junior School to be turned into an academy have called for a halt to the process.

The Upton Street school in Tredworth was placed in special measures in September after education watchdog Ofsted criticised pupils’ achievement and teaching standards.

The Government requires every school which goes into special measures to become a sponsored academy and the ball is already rolling to transform St James after governors voted unanimously for the change to be made.

However, parents claim consultation on the issue was inadequate and they have now formed a group called Save St James and are calling for a halt in the academy process in order for a proper consultation to take place.

Spokesman Emma Larkman said: “We want the process stopped immediately.

“A lot of parents don’t know what an academy is, some don’t know that it is going to become an academy and pretty much all of them have no idea what the pros and cons are.

“We have a petition, both physical and online, and we have gathered 500 signatures against the school becoming an academy.”

Mrs Larkman claims there are 171 parents at the school and only 15 turned up at a consultation that was “poorly” promoted in a school newsletter.

“On October 10 some governors voted unanimously for academy status,” she said. “The consultation they are claiming to have held was from October 22-24, after the decision was already made.”

Other mums are also up in arms at the decision.

Denise Summers, who has a seven year-old son at the school, said: “I am upset that we have been kept in the dark about such important changes. I think parents should be told what is happening.”

Kelly Harding, who has two daughters at the school, said: “It is really bad that this process is happening without any concern about what the parents feel. Parents should have a say.”

Selina Hastings, who has two children at the school, added: “We want a fair consultation process but it has never been offered.”

St James C of E Junior School Chair of Governors, Pat Gifford, said: “We will continue to engage with the local community moving forward.”

St James C of E Junior School chair of Governors, Pat Gifford, said: “The Government requires that every school that goes into special measures must become a sponsored academy.

“As St James is a Church of England Primary School, the Diocese were contacted by the Department for Education about becoming that sponsor.

“We have run three information sessions for parents jointly with the Diocese to explain why the school is becoming a sponsored academy, the process involved and to give them an opportunity to share their views and for us to address any concerns.”

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