HandsOffWHX – Timeline

History to date

11th – 12th December 2017 – Ofsted inspect Waltham Holy Cross Primary School (WHXPS)

March 2018 – Final copy of inspection report published, school given a judgement of inadequate. WHXPS had previously disputed the draft report hence the delay in the publish date. As a result, wheels were set in motion to seek academy sponsor, as per current Department for Education (DFE) guidelines.

After receiving a copy of the inspection report many parents were shocked and dismayed by the incorrect description of the school and began contacting various authorities, politicians etc for support. Responses were sparse, standard and unhelpful. Ofsted responses to complaints proved to be unhelpful as parental complaints are not accepted. Many parents received no response from their correspondence.

17th March 2018 – Parent meeting held at the school with Mrs Barnett, senior leadership team, governing body and the local Authority (LA). The situation was explained in full. Mrs Barnett showed how significant progress has been made throughout the school during her short time as head. It was stated that the school had, weeks before the Ofsted inspection, been assessed by the LA. At that point it was deemed a ‘good’ school, this was not disputed by the members of the LA in attendance. At this meeting we were also informed that the school had instructed a solicitor to support them to challenge Ofsted with the findings of the report. Peter Lisher (Former Chair of Governors) informed parents that the governing board would now stand down as a body and an IEB (Interim Executive Board) would take over until the Academy is in place. It was made clear to parents that once an inadequate judgement is given there is then a legal requirement for the school to be forced into an academy status and once a school becomes an academy there is no way of it returning back to Local Authority control, even if the academy is failing the school. We were also informed that the LA, school, IEB or parents have no say in which academy the school is given to, the choice is made by Sue Baldwin the RSC (Regional Schools Commissioner). The support at the meeting for the school and staff was overwhelming, parents continued to complain to various organisations/ individuals but to no avail.

21st May 2018 – Formal notification given to parents stating that NETAT was to be our chosen sponsor. Many parents upset by the choice. This was not the preferred choice of the school or many parents. Main concern of parents is that NETAT currently have failing schools that they are off loading, making us question how on earth they can be deemed to have the capacity to take on WHX.

18th June 2018 – Parent meeting at the school with the new Interim Executive Board (IEB) members. David Smith is the head of the IEB. He was appointed on the 8th May. He explained the role of the IEB and stated they had no agenda other than to align the school ready for NETAT to take over WHXPS. He clearly stated that he has no control over what happened prior to his appointment. Mike Capon (IEB member) explained the shortfall within the school’s budget and inferred that the staffing structure may need to be reduced as this is where the largest percentage of overspend currently exists. He stated there are no plans as yet to sell off the land, although nothing could be ruled out. Again, parents showed overwhelming support for the school and expressed disagreement with the ofsted judgement, as well as concerns regarding NETAT being our chosen sponsor. We were told to bring our concerns to the next meeting where Jo Coton would be in attendance.

25th June 2018 – Parent meeting at the school to meet Jo Coton and NET Academies. Yet more overwhelming support from parents towards the school remaining under the current leadership of Mrs Barnett and senior leadership team. Unfortunately many parents left this meeting feeling that their questions had not been heard, nor their opinions taken on board.

11th July 2018 – WHXPS Statutory Assessment Results (SATS) 2017-18 show a combined improvement across reading, writing and maths of 18%. Clearly showing our senior leadership team are capable of bringing about rapid improvement, despite the Ofsted claim!

May/ June 2018 – Parent Shaunagh Roberts & Jay Tailor started requesting information via the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), submitting requests to the relevant authorities to gain an understanding of why NETAT was considered a suitable sponsor. This gives 20 days for any department/ authority to respond. To our horror some of the things are shocking, we have noted them below:

Clare Kershaw is the Director of Education for Essex, she is also a trustee for NETAT and NET – This is a clear conflict of interest.

The original Ofsted report had 64 errors before the final draft was published – How can we trust this report is a true reflection of our school when 64 errors had to be amended.

Ofsted inspected after only nine months of Mrs Barnett being appointed as head – This gave her very little time to show any vast improvement.

The two schools joined in 2016 becoming a primary school – Why did Ofsted inspect so early? DfE white paper advises a grace period of 2 years.

The RSC decides which academy the school will be given to after a Head Teachers Board Meeting (HTB), this is current procedure – FOI shows that NETAT had already been chosen prior to the HTB meeting. The HTB meeting was held on the 19th April 2018, however during a private meeting with Shaunagh Roberts and Jay Tailor, David Smith (Chair of IEB) stated that he had been informed that NETAT had been chosen on the 17th April 2018 during a meeting with the other IEB members and the LA. He pointed this out in his own diary!

The LA have held back information from parents and other authorities – Emails show that Nicola Woolfe did not declare to the RSC that Vine Academy were happy to take on WHXPS as a non-faith school.
The RSC emailed a parent informing them of the chosen Academy to take over WHXPS before it had been formally announced. Emails have been received that clearly show the RSC (Sue Baldwin) asking others within the LA to shut down lines of enquiry from parents, phone calls have also been received stating one thing with call backs 30 minutes later backtracking.

Lilac Sky – Originally brought in years back as a school improvement partner. The accounts have been requested under FOI however we have been informed that paperwork to show accounts no longer exists. This is extremely disturbing as we are aware that they had misspent money, leaving the school in difficulties.

The IEB – we have documented proof that during the meeting David Smith (IEB) was tasked with the job of getting parents approval for Jo Coton (CEO of NETAT) to join the IEB. Many parents wrote to David after the meeting expressing that they did not want Jo Coton to join the board. To date she has not been appointed. Minutes acquired via FOI show that the IEB had the power to support and continue the legal action started by Mrs Barnett and the disbanded Governing Body.