Legal Action Success – but keep up the pressure

The breaking news on Friday that the Federation has rescinded the academy order for Prendergast (Hilly Fields) was very welcome news. However, the decision to carry on regardless with Vale and Ladywell Fields is confirmation (in spite of their protestations to the contrary – of being undecided until the consultation has completed) that the Governing Body is hell bent on this conversion.

The order was rescinded because of a challenge to the academy order for Prendergast Hilly Fields by a parent, that because the Staff Governor had not voted in favour – the order was invalid.

But I hear you say – how can the academy orders for Vale and Ladywell be valid – well of course the answer is – that is that they are not – they just haven’t got a legal challenge against them.

If the Governor’s had any decency they would have admitted they have been caught out and withdrawn the applications from Vale and Ladywell Fields.

So why have they carried on?

We already know from the MAT Working Party report that they have taken advice from the DfE South Division, Academies Group. The letters between the Federation and the Department of Education which were posted on the Federation website gives us an insight into this advice from an impartial civil service.

Barrow writes to the DfE at 3pm rescinding the academy order.

.Less that 90 minutes later, the DfE write in response to the letter from Barrow saying

“It would appear that our policy has progressed since the legislation was laid. I will inform the governing body about how they should proceed with this as soon as possible”

The DfE further advise that they should continue to proceed with the orders for Vale and Ladywell and add.

“It is disappointing that this issue has delayed the academy conversion of a school when the majority of the governing body voted in favour of the applications.”

Now, we have been told repeatedly that the issue has not been decided until the Governing Board meet in June after the consultation, do the DfE think that the conversion takes place irrespective of the consultation?

In spite of the DfE and the Governors knowing that the process is flawed they continue anyway.

The letters indicate that the DfE will bring changes to the law, to remove the requirement that a staff governor or parent governor have to vote in favour.

Looks like a job for our recently elected MPs. We would also like to know how many other schools have been converted where the legislation has been followed correctly.


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