Tuesday 16 December 2014

Sedgehill: story of a school being forced to be an academy

Hi Michael

I've long followed your support of schools under threat of academisation. I'm the mother of two children at Sedgehill, a community comprehensive in Lewisham. The school was in a very bad way four years ago. Morale was low, numbers on roll were falling, and the Head resigned suddenly. Ken McKenzie took over and completely transformed the school. It's now a very special place - a true community where every child is accepted, no matter what their background or level of academic achievement, and where their potential is nurtured, whether it be with free music tuition, dance training, time in the recording studio, training with Fulham Football Club, mentoring younger children, being involved in the Youth Parliament or learning to be a Young Entrepeneur.

GCSE results have been steadily rising, until a dip this year caused by changes to the system (and shared by many many schools across the country) was taken as a cue by Lewisham council to intervene.

They instructed the board of governors to replace the Head with their own choice, the Head of Bethnal Green Academy. When the Governors refused, they were given notice that an application was being made to impose an Interim Executive Board to disband the governors, sack the Head and take over the running of the school.

This is against the wishes of the entire school community. The school is NOT failing; it has lifted from special measures to inadequate to requires improvement (the category that was until recently called satisfactory). Although at the 2013 inspection it was still at a 3 (requires improvement) the school is confident that when next inspected it will achieve a 2 (good).

Although the council are saying that a full consultation on academisation will be held after the imposition of the IEB, it will then be too late. Sacking the leadership team and handing the school over to the control of an Academy Executive Head will irretrievably alter the character and ethos of the school and rob our children of the chance to be part of a school community we believe in.

If there is any way that you can help to shine light on this situation, then please do. We were informed just over a week ago, and we understand the application for the IEB is being made tomorrow, despite a 1,600 signature petition, a barrage of emails from concerned parents, and a demonstration outside the town hall attended by hundreds of students.

There is a Twitter group @savesedgehill where you can find out more.