Leathersellers’ back down – heads must roll

The letter posted on the Federation website yesterday that the Leathersellers’ Federation have ‘defer[red] the current conversion process]’ which still avoids the question of whether the orders for Vale and Ladywell have been rescinded raises questions about the role of the Governing Board as a whole and the judgement of the Chairman and Executive Head.

The letter says that the Governing Board have taken this decision, to our knowledge there has been no meeting since the legal action and we look forward to the minutes if such a meeting took place.

They were warned

During the phoney war whilst the Working Party ‘deliberated’, they were warned that there would be opposition. But they also failed to understand the scale and nature of that opposition.

As a campaign we have been deeply critical of The Mayor, and Frankie Sulke (Director for Children and Young People) especially over Sedgehill, but an experienced local politician he understood the storm approaching the Leathersellers’ was not to be treated lightly. And he told them so, but they were either too arrogant or too ignorant to understand.

At the 9 December 2014 Board, on the very day there was a strike across Sedgehill and the Prendergast schools and the campaign against academisation was starting to catch fire.

The minutes of the previous Board were amended to ‘correct their misunderstanding of the Local Authority’s views’. [insertions are underlined]

“the message conveyed by FS, of support to the proposals , having heard the reasoning behind the decision to consider a MAT conversion, that, while whatever decision is made, she will continue to support the Leathersellers’ and the Federation, her concern was that there should be no distraction from the focus on raising achievement at the schools. FS informed that the Mayor was interested in meeting with us to discuss; according to FS, he understood the idea of sponsored academies, but was less convinced by the arguments for conversion academies. That said, we were informed that he had an open mind would want to hear about our plans but was supportive of the Federation’s move subject to meeting and discussing our reasoning

and reference to the Mayor was changed to

“the Mayor offered his support in the event that the Federation’s GB decided to pursue Academy conversion, though he did explain that there might be some opposition that the Federation  might would have to deal with”

The Board failed to take sufficient advice

Chris Wheal has been doing some fantastic work on the secrecy in the run up to the Academy Order at Not being Secret. Where he comes to the conclusion that:

“We do know that the working party did not seek any legal advice of its own. All the legal advice had, conveniently, been received prior to the setting up of the working party. We have to assume it was either the executive head, David Sheppard, or the chair of governors, Christopher Barrow.”


“The working party did not look at all the options and independently recommend academy status – it was established to look only at academy status, with legal advice only on that specific option”.

As the Public Debate were told in no uncertain terms by the Executive Head (David Sheppard) that “the Governors are responsible” and “they will make the decision“.

The Governing Board should hold the Chairman and the Executive Head to account and demand they do the honourable thing and call for their resignation

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