Parents ‘kept in the dark’ over Southsea academy plans

Tributes left outside Fareham Academy.

Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180012-4)

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ANGRY parents have hit out at a consultation process about plans to turn their children’s school into an academy.

As reported in The News, Priory School in Southsea has chosen the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) as its chosen sponsor and proposes to convert to academy status.

If it all goes ahead, the school will become an academy, which will be privately funded and manage its own budget in September.

But at a meeting, many parents criticised the consultation process and said they had been kept in the dark over the plans.

The school said it held a consultation for parents over a two-week period in July but only a very small number of people responded.

Joanne Mitchell, 53, from Southsea said: ‘I’m all for somebody coming in and giving them a hand as long as it will help us.

‘I can see where they are coming from, but I can also see why people were annoyed because they weren’t told properly.’

Jon Woods, a parent and spokesman for Portsmouth Trades Council, said: ‘This is clearly about privatisation.

‘Once you come out of the local authority remit there will be no way back in.

‘You talk about raising standards but I don’t believe there’s any evidence that academies provide a better standard of education than authorities do.’

Jenny Pearce, 51, from Southsea, said: ‘To me it seems like although this is a consultation, a lot of work has gone in already.

‘The bottom line is I want all our children to be happy at school.

‘I want them to progress to their highest achievement.

‘But I also want them to be taught by a teacher who doesn’t feel under that pressure every single day.’

Parents have been invited to share their views.

Headteacher James Humphries said: ‘If there’s an overwhelming sense that parents don’t want this we will have to do some work with parents about where to go from there.

‘But at the end of the day if the local authority wants us to convert, that’s the direction we are going in.’

Mark Mitchell, chairman of governors, said: ‘We believe that this is the right way forward for Priory School.

‘From what I have heard from the headteacher and the other senior leaders, the school do have confidence that AET has a lot to offer.’