We believe that Abbeydale Grange School should be given more time to improve and that options other than a “hard federation” should be explored. We are concerned that Cabinet instructed officers to find a partner to form a “hard federation” (in effect a merger) and, if this couldn’t be done before the end of term, to proceed with closure.
The pastoral care at Abbeydale Grange is exceptionally good and the number of children going on to higher education, including top universities, is high. But last year it fell below central government targets for GCSE results and was entered into the “national challenge” programme. In February of this year, it was put into “special measures” following an Ofsted report. Neither national challenge status nor special measures automatically require a hard federation or closure. On the contrary, they provide processes and extra resources to turn things round. We have met the new interim head and the chair of governors who are confident that the school is improving fast and expect this to be reflected in GCSE results this year and next. Their assessment was confirmed by council officers who visited a couple of weeks ago to monitor progress.
Last December, the Cabinet instigated a Review of the school to which governors, teachers, parents and local people contributed in good faith. The recommendations, which included seeking external help via a “soft federation”, appear to have been ignored by Cabinet. The school has had many offers of practical support from schools and colleges but cannot pursue them as they fall short of “hard federation”.
We suspect that the Lib Dem administration and council officers are being pushed by central government into looking for a hard federation in a very short time frame, or closing the school. The Lib Dem administration prides itself on standing up to central government and on listening to local people. Why not over this issue? We would back them to the hilt.
Cllr Jillian Creasy