Governor’s academy concerns for Stevenage school

Marriotts School in Stevenage, which shares state of the art facilities with Lonsdale

Marriotts School in Stevenage, which shares state of the art facilities with Lonsdale - Credit: Archant

A GOVERNOR has raised concerns about the possibility of a school becoming an academy, claiming a potential sponsor has been given “preferential treatment”.

John Ballard, who sits on the board of governors at Marriotts School in Stevenage, claims governors are being “pushed” to accept the school’s conversion into an academy – which would see it become self-governed and able to draw on additional funding from sponsors.

Staff and students at the school moved from a site in Telford Avenue to a new build in Brittain Way in January, sharing the multi-million pound facility with Lonsdale School.

The parent governor, who lives in Canterbury Way, Stevenage, said: “A potential sponsor has been given preferential treatment, and has been allowed to sit on the appointment panel for the new head in place of other board members. Parents, stakeholders, teachers and staff have also not been consulted.”

Mr Ballard, who is also critical of both the Conservative and Labour parties over the creation of academy schools, added: “Chells and Bedwell are having their community school, one which is cutting edge and state of the art, taken away from them and handed to a private investor. It is nothing short of a disgrace.”

Acting headteacher Geraint Edwards, who is being replaced by Bethany Honnor in September, said that while potential academy sponsors had the opportunity to meet candidates for the headteacher post, they were not involved in the formal interviewing process carried out by a panel of governors.

He added: “Academy status has been discussed as an option by the governing body which has agreed to look into this change in school status.

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“Currently, Marriotts does not meet the requirements to become a converter academy so the governing body has been looking into the sponsored academy route with the support of the local authority.

“The school has been in discussion with potential sponsors but this is at an early stage in a long and complex process. A full stakeholder consultation will take place to ensure that there is full transparency with any route the governing body takes regarding a change in school status.”

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