Parents' start petition as Northamptonshire school could become academy

A public meeting is set to be held next month so parents, staff and governors can discuss the future of a Northamptonshire primary school.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 3:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 11:48 am
Sywell has capacity for 105 pupils, taught within four classes.

Some parents at Sywell Church of England Voluntary Aided (CEVA) Primary School want to deny an application for academy status over fears the school will become 'less accountable' and 'will receive less money'.

Parent, Becky Thomson, is worried long-standing teachers may be replaced, too.

"The academies have greater freedoms than local-authority-maintained schools," she said,

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"They can set staff pay and conditions, determine their own curriculum and are directly responsible for financial as well as educational performance.

"The majority of our teachers have been there for many years, we are very concerned that we may lose them only to be replaced with cheaper, newly qualified teachers (NQTs). There is absolutely nothing wrong with NQT's - we know that everyone has to start somewhere - but part of the reason that I personally applied for my son's place at Sywell was because of the close-knit family feel to it."

The parents have set up a public meeting on February 6 to ask questions about the school's future and have also started a petition, which has drummed up 478 supporters so far.

Chair of governors, at Sywell CEVA Primary School, Darren Parnell said: "Very few parents’ have expressed concerns to me, as chair of governors, about the school becoming an academy.

"The governors will be consulting with parents in due course, as part of the consultation process, when we will be happy to respond directly to any parents about concerns they may have."

Currently, the school is a voluntary-aided Church of England school and part of the Diocese of Peterborough - it is also a maintained local authority school, funded and maintained by Northamptonshire County Council.

Peter Cantley, diocesan director of education for the Diocese of Peterborough said: "Governors have voted in favour of Sywell CE Primary School joining Peterborough Diocese Education Trust, which is the diocesan multi-academy trust.

"At present, 31 Church of England schools belong to the trust.

"The diocese has not received any letters, emails or phone calls from any parents, staff or governors raising concerns about Sywell CE Primary School joining Peterborough Diocese Education Trust. The trust has a good track record and provides excellent support for all its schools."

Becky claims parents were not made aware when the vote to become an academy was being held and the parents have since tried to raise their concerns with governors to stop the process.