Barclay parents ‘disappointed’ after Future Academies meeting

The meeting between Future Academies and Barclay parents. Picture: Vickie Saunders

The meeting between Future Academies and Barclay parents. Picture: Vickie Saunders - Credit: Archant

Parents from Stevenage’s Barclay Academy were left disappointed and without answers following a meeting with the new governing trust’s chief executive on Tuesday night.

Barclay was officially taken over by the Future Academies Trust and moved to academy status last Friday, after a long battle which saw staff go on strike and protestors against the move march through the town.

The takeover came after the school was rated ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures by Ofsted in 2016. However, an April 2018 Ofsted inspection found the school had made significant improvement and progressed to ‘requires improvement’, with elements of ‘good’.

At a meeting earlier this week, Future Academies Trust chief executive Paul Smith gave a presentation to parents on what is next for Barclay, but many felt they had not been given answers.

A parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I went with an open mind, to give the CEO an opportunity in putting forward what his vision was for the (now) newly named Barclay Academy.

“It was a genuine attempt from me to put aside differences and give FAT the benefit of the doubt.

“The eagerly anticipated evening started with what can only be surmounted to a professional sales pitch, led by Paul Smith, who dominated the meeting, over-running by 30 minutes.

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“When asked a simple ‘yes or no’ question – will the name “The Barclay Academy’ stay for good – the CEO couldn’t answer.

“One parent even reminded Paul Smith that he is the CEO and can make the decision ‘here and now’ on that very topical school name issue, to the cheers of many in parents in the room.

“Unfortunately, like many of the small number of questions the CEO took from the parents, all his responses were left tentative with no real substance.

“Overall, I was bitterly disappointed with the meeting, walking away with even more questions than answers.”

Another parent, Debra Pallet was equally disappointed, adding: “Last night’s meeting left us with no answers and further frustrations. It totally demonstrated Future’s continuing lack of openness and transparency.

“An overflowing hall of parents and students were talked at for over and hour and a half then given 15 minutes of questions. Most of which were not adequately answered. A totally patronising sales pitch.”

Another parent, who also asked to remain anonymous believes that there is nothing Future Academies can do to improve the school.

“The meeting left me feeling that I still have no idea how FAT are proposing to do a better job with Barclay,” they said.

“How they will make faster progress than the previous structure? What can they do to improve things that hasn’t already been done? And I don’t mean fancy school trips, bringing in Latin or adding an extra lesson per day to the curriculum.

“What more can they do that Mr Allchorn, his senior leadership team and staff were already doing to get us to a ‘good’ Ofsted rating?”

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