Petition taken to Westminster in bid to stop forced takeover of Stevenage school

Barclay School teachers took strike action this morning, and were joined by parents, sixth-formers,

Barclay School teachers took strike action this morning, and were joined by parents, sixth-formers, local NEU representative Jill Borcherds and other members of the community. Picture: Jim Brown - Credit: Archant

A petition signed by more than 1,500 people calling for a stop to plans to force a secondary school to become an academy has been delivered to the Department for Education.

Parents of pupils at The Barclay School in Stevenage took the petition to the DfE in London’s Westminster yesterday (Monday) accompanied by Herts County Council member for Old Stevenage Joshua Bennett Lovell.

The school was put under an academy order by the DfE after it was rated inadequate by Ofsted in 2016 and placed in special measures.

A multi-academy trust is set to take over the school in January, but parents and the wider community are desperate to stop it because, under a new headteacher and senior leadership team, the school has progressed to requires improvement with elements of good.

Academies are publicly-funded independent schools, receiving money direct from the government and not the local county council.

There are concerns unnecessary changes could be made to the curriculum, school structure and systems under academy status.

Parent Jane Baumeister, who travelled to Westminster, said: “It was great to finally hand over our petition to the Secretary of State’s office and get a guarantee that Education Secretary Damian Hinds will now be able to read our demands.

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“We are looking forward to hearing back from him very soon, and especially so in the case that he can confirm that the wish of our community is listened to, and the academy order on Barclay School be revoked.”

Councillor Bennett Lovell said: “This academy order is an unnecessary distraction for everyone involved with the school and could easily be avoided if the regional schools’ commissioner and Department for Education did the right thing and listened to our expert teachers and the strength of feeling in our community by lifting the academy order immediately.”

Tomorrow (Wednesday) National Education Union members will strike, with Barclay teaching staff creating a picket line outside the Walkern Road school.

Councillor Bennett Lovell has also called a demonstration outside the school from 7.30am, in support of the strike.

Barlcay’s chair of governors Nicky Clarke said they had hoped strike action could have been prevented if the DfE had reacted swiftly to their request for a meeting to discuss their concerns.

The petition, started by parent Amanda Feagan, can still be signed on by searching for ‘Hands Off Barclay’.