Academy vows to work with Stevenage’s Barclay staff to ‘accelerate much-needed improvement’

Hands Off Barclay campaigners marched from the school to the town centre last Saturday to protest ag

Hands Off Barclay campaigners marched from the school to the town centre last Saturday to protest against the academy takeover, but just six days later on Friday the Future Academies Trust took over the running of the school. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

A campaign to stop the forced takeover of a secondary school has failed, with the academy trust now in control saying it will “strive to build on the school’s own DNA to improve outcomes for all students”.

On Friday, Future Academies Trust took control of Stevenage’s Barclay School.

The academy move is because Barclay was rated inadequate and put in special measures by Ofsted in 2016, but it has since advanced to requires improvement, with elements of good.

Concerns of needless changes to the curriculum, school structure and systems led to a Hands Off Barclay campaign launching at the end of last year.

More than 2,900 people signed a petition calling for Barclay to remain within local authority control, staff took strike action on three occasions, and a protest rally and march was held last Saturday.

Stevenage Borough Council backed a motion by Old Town councillor Jim Brown last Wednesday and made an 11th hour call to the Secretary of State to rethink the plans.

Councillor Brown said: “There is no evidence academisation improves performance. This upheaval and upset is completely unnecessary. As Barclay is improving, the Secretary of State has the power to rescind the academy order.”

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On Friday, a Future Academies spokesman said: “We are delighted to have welcomed Barclay Academy to our family of schools. We look forward to working alongside all staff to continue and accelerate the much-needed improvement in the quality of education and to lead the school to outstanding.”

Jill Borcherds, a Barclay teacher and National Education Union rep, said: “Senior members of the Future team have been in school since Friday. There was a staff meeting on Monday where information was shared with staff regarding Future’s plans to work alongside the existing Barclay leadership team and all staff continuing to move the school forward.”

An information event for parents was also held last night.

Future Academies, which already runs five London schools, said: “As each school joins Future Academies, we recognise they enter at different starting points in their journey to excellence. Consequently, the trust tailors its approach to achieve this objective for each individual school. This is best achieved through our work as a multi-academy trust, allowing us, as a family of schools, to share ideas, expertise and opportunities.

“We believe every school has its own identity and we strive to build on each school’s own DNA to improve outcomes for all students. School-to-school support underpins the trust’s improvement approach.”

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