A COUNCILLOR has called for parents to be spared the expense of buying new school uniforms after E-ACT officially announced it was losing control of Winsford’s academy.
The school is among ten that the struggling charity sponsor is handing back to Government after soon-to-be-published Ofsted inspections at 16 academies nationwide uncovered weaknesses.
E-ACT stressed that the decision was not a reflection of the individual qualities of the ten departing schools – among the schools being handed back are some ranked ‘good’ in the most recent published Ofsted reports.
In a letter of reassurance to parents, Winsford academy principal, Andy Taylor-Edwards, has pointed to his school’s improvement from special measures in 2010.
Winsford Town Councillor Charlie Parkinson said he wanted assurances that parents would not have to shell out for new clothes if the school logo and colours changed when a new academy sponsor is found.
“When E-ACT came in, there were two different uniforms from the merger of Verdin and Woodford Lodge High Schools.
“We didn’t think it was fair that parents had to fork out for a brand new uniform, so we managed to agree with E-ACT that they’d pay.
“If a new sponsor is found, I want it abundantly clear from whoever comes in that they will be paying for any uniform change. Parents should not have to pay.”
This week, E-ACT’s chief executive, David Moran, said the chain were pulling out of Winsford and nine other academies to concentrate their efforts at their remaining 24 schools.
He said: “Our pupils, staff and parents deserve strong support and leadership.
“Our focus must be on where we can provide this and to do the right thing and allow others to deliver elsewhere.
“This means that we are best placed to make a significant difference to those 24 academies by allowing us to focus our attention to best effect.
“This is not a reflection on the individual academies that are leaving us.
“Following a meeting of E-ACT’s board of trustees on Wednesday, February 26, trustees have agreed that ten academies will be transferred to alternative sponsors.
“There will be a further announcement in due course confirming the new sponsors and the timetable setting out when the ten academies will transfer over.”
Winsford E-ACT academy was established in September 2010. Its brand new £20 million school building opened last September.
IN a letter to parents, E-ACT principal Andy Taylor-Edwards said: “It is key to point out at this juncture that the concerns raised by the DfE are not related to our academy but to E-ACT, as a multi-academy sponsor, and their ability to transform the standards in 34 of their academies across the country.
“The ten academies that will no longer be part of E-ACT is not a list of the 10 worst performing E-ACT academies. Indeed, there are a mix of Ofsted-rated good, requires improvement, serious concern and special measures academies.
“Geography has clearly had a part to play, with the vast majority of the academies on the list being those furthest removed from E-ACT HQ in London.
“As an individual academy we are making rapid improvements, as the soon to be published Ofsted report points out.
“We are not a school in a category of concern. Our predecessor schools were before we became an academy, but since then we have moved up two levels in terms of how Ofsted judge a school.”
He added: “Every child, parent, member of staff and member of the community deserves a sponsor with the ability to add extra value to day to day school life.
There’s no change here for me, our students and the rest of our staff. It’s business as usual and we’ll continue more rapid improvements."
A spokesman for Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “The responsibility for brokering and securing a new sponsor for the school lies with the Academies Division of the Department for Education, working with the governors at the school.
“We have made contact with the relevant officer in the Academies Division to seek clarification of the next steps and to offer to support the process, as appropriate.
“The Council is concerned that there is a good match with a high performing sponsor in order to support the future improvements at the Winsford Academy.”
Full list of schools handed back to Whitehall: Aldborough E-ACT Free School, Redbridge.
Dartmouth Academy, Dartmouth.
E-ACT Leeds Academy, Leeds.
Forest E-ACT Academy, Gloucestershire.
Hartsbrook E-ACT Free School, Tottenham.
Leeds West, Leeds.
Sherwood E-ACT Academy, Nottingham.
The Purston E-ACT Academy, Featherstone.
Trent Valley Academy, Gainsborough.
Winsford E-ACT Academy, Winsford.