A board of school governors has gone to war with an academy trust – claiming the Trust is trying to remove them and seize full control of the school.
The governors of Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy in Runcorn have written an explosive letter to parents at the school, claiming that their positions could be removed from them.
The school is currently an Academy and while is is associated with and sponsored by the Birmingham-based Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) – it is not a full member and currently has local governors and local decision-making powers.
But now it has been revealed OAT is looking to bring the school – which is currently rated as ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted – formally into the multi-academy trust network.
If this were to happen it would mean wresting control from the local governor board.
Now Mike Cunliffe, the chair of the board of governors at the school, has issued a letter to all parents.
It states: “OAT is acting to attempt to seize that control (alongside our financial reserves) by forcing the academy to become a full member of OAT. After 18 months of negotiation on key points, OAT have taken the decision to use a legal mechanism to remove to present Board of Governors and replace it with one that will pass the transfer.
“This would mean control and decision making moving to Birmingham.
“We cannot allow this to happen for other reasons that concern us greatly. As Governors we are seeking every possible avenue to prevent the transfer from happening.
“We have involved our MP, the Secretary of State and the Regional Schools Commissioner but we need you too.”
Adding that the ‘situation is urgent’, Mr Cunliffe explained that a special meeting has now been called to inform parents of the situation, which will take place at the school on July 3 at 7pm.
Academies are independent, state-funded schools, which receive their funding directly from central government – rather than from a local authority.
The day-to-day running of the school is the responsibility of the headteacher or principal – but the schools are overseen by individual charitable bodies called academy trusts. Sometimes they are part of a wider academy chain.
The trusts control their own admissions processes and operate with more freedom than other schools – but this has raised concerns about accountability.
The changes were pushed strongly by the coalition government and have been central to the current Tory government’s education plans.
“Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy is currently a single academy trust, sponsored by Ormiston Academies Trust.
“We can confirm that OAT has been in discussions and consultation with Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy regarding it formally joining the MAT.
“Those conversations have been ongoing and we have now written to the academy to give notice of a members’ meeting, following proper protocol. Decisions on whether to sponsor a school are never based on its level of reserves, and this applies to this case.