Academy plans rapped for Sheffield school

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Moves to turn a Sheffield school into an academy are under fire from parents who say consultation processes are ‘a complete joke’.

Plans are on the table for Newfield Secondary at Norton Lees to join a partnership with King Ecgbert at Dore as part of a new Mercia Multi Academy Trust.

Discussions are under way and the school’s governing body is due to vote on the issue on November 25.

Totley Primary School is also due to join the trust, which will be created next spring.

Newfield has been working with King Ecgbert for the past year to raise standards after its last inspection found it required improvement.

But Jim Lewis, who has a daughter in Year 7 at Newfield, claims the school was keeping the issue low-key so parents would ‘sleepwalk into the changes’.

“Around 60 or 70 parents from a pupil base of 900 attended a meeting with six days’ notice, while 14 people fitted into the head’s office a few days later in what was called community consultation,” he said.

“And that’s it. They then move into a governors’ decision calling it consultation. It’s a complete joke.”

Mr Lewis said the school should hold a ballot of parents to get a full range of views.

Chair of governors Ed Wydenbach said the school was following all the correct consultation procedures.

“We have been working closely with colleagues at King Ecgbert and we have now decided we want to take that relationship further - it is not like we are going on a blind date,” he said.

“Both sides have had time to decide if the option of an academy trust is suitable - if the partnership had not been working either side could have withdrawn.

“We have a highly experienced governing body at Newfield who have carefully examined all the implications and have decided this move would be in the best interests of the students - it is not being passed through on the nod.”

Mr Wydenbach added while the new alliance would reduce costs, improving education was more important.