Waltham Forest council welcomes 'hard federation' between Newport and Dawlish primary schools

Controversial school merger approved by governors

Controversial school merger approved by governors

First published in News
Last updated
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A controversial decision to merge the management of two primary schools in Leyton has been unanimously agreed by governors. 

As of September, Dawlish Primary School in Jesse Road, and Newport School in Newport Road will operate under one governing body and Newport's current headteacher Prue Barnes. 

The proposal for a "hard federation" was criticised by some parents at Dawlish who claimed it could destroy the sense of community. 

Cllr Mark Rusling, cabinet member for children and young people, sent a letter yesterday informing them of the decision to push ahead with the plan. 

Children at Dawlish are said to have been underachieving for some time and the council says it was at 'high risk' of going into special measures. 

Cllr Rusling said: "The council are of the clear view that the very low achievement of recent years at Dawlish School cannot be allowed to continue. 

"We know that, whilst rated 'good' by Ofsted in February 2012, Dawlish is at a very high risk of failing any inspection that takes place before standards rise. 

"This would leave the school at risk of forced academisation. The Federation is an essential first step towards securing the rapid improvements that are needed at Dawlish."

Ms Barnes was sworn in as interim executive headteacher at Dawlish in January following the resignation of its previous headteacher. 

The council said despite parents' concerns raised during the consultation period, governors are "convinced the federation is a huge opportunity for both schools to be stronger together, than apart, whilst retaining their individual identities". 

The federation is likely to be modelled on the merger between Selwyn Primary School in Selwyn Avenue, Highams Park, and Davies Lane Primary School in Davies Lane, Leytonstone. 

Had the federation not been approved, the alternative option was creating a sponsored academy. 

Ms Barnes has been contacted for a comment.  

 

Comments (12)

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4:02pm Sat 2 Aug 14

Marilyn Payne says...

The spin continues. Dawlish was not in danger of going into special measures, some things needed improving but on the whole most of the education it provided was excellent.

‘SOME PARENTS CLAIMED IT WOULD DESTROY THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY’! What a gross distortion of the facts. Almost all of the parents were critical because the sense of community and the ethos of the old Dawlish school was lost as soon as the interim head arrived. In published tables there were 239 applications for 30 places. Newport had 247 for 120 places. In the online table, showing primary school applications for the coming year, Dawlish was eight times oversubscribed and no other school in the borough comes anywhere near it in popularity, certainly not Newport. Whatever other nonsense is said about this affair, don’t underestimate the feelings of the parents against what has happened here.
The spin continues. Dawlish was not in danger of going into special measures, some things needed improving but on the whole most of the education it provided was excellent. ‘SOME PARENTS CLAIMED IT WOULD DESTROY THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY’! What a gross distortion of the facts. Almost all of the parents were critical because the sense of community and the ethos of the old Dawlish school was lost as soon as the interim head arrived. In published tables there were 239 applications for 30 places. Newport had 247 for 120 places. In the online table, showing primary school applications for the coming year, Dawlish was eight times oversubscribed and no other school in the borough comes anywhere near it in popularity, certainly not Newport. Whatever other nonsense is said about this affair, don’t underestimate the feelings of the parents against what has happened here. Marilyn Payne
  • Score: 5

10:30pm Sat 2 Aug 14

runningupthathill says...

According to Councillor Rusling, Dawlish Primary School will retain its individual identity. I wonder. Is he speaking of the identity which has been established over many years or is he speaking of the identity it has adopted under the new leadership? The two would seem to be quite distinct. If the former, I am sure parents would welcome the change back to Dawlish Primary's friendlier more welcoming self, but I wonder who exactly is capable of leading the school in that rebirth, since the overwhelming majority of both the leadership team and the new streamlined governing body will be made up of people committed to the Newport model. If the latter, how exactly will Dawlish differ from Newport, apart from its size? This is one of the central questions that arises out of the whole sorry affair. Improving test results is relatively simple, but recreating the magic of Dawlish Primary now that all but one of the teaching staff are gone will not be easy.
According to Councillor Rusling, Dawlish Primary School will retain its individual identity. I wonder. Is he speaking of the identity which has been established over many years or is he speaking of the identity it has adopted under the new leadership? The two would seem to be quite distinct. If the former, I am sure parents would welcome the change back to Dawlish Primary's friendlier more welcoming self, but I wonder who exactly is capable of leading the school in that rebirth, since the overwhelming majority of both the leadership team and the new streamlined governing body will be made up of people committed to the Newport model. If the latter, how exactly will Dawlish differ from Newport, apart from its size? This is one of the central questions that arises out of the whole sorry affair. Improving test results is relatively simple, but recreating the magic of Dawlish Primary now that all but one of the teaching staff are gone will not be easy. runningupthathill
  • Score: 2

9:49am Sun 3 Aug 14

leytonoldboy2 says...

There was clearly a hidden agenda here. This was not a failing school - it was one of the borough's best schools and if the council had wanted it to remain its could easily have been shown to any inspecting Ofsted team worth their salt. They've obviously got something else in mind for the school or for the site and the headteacher going off sick gave them the perfect opportunity to put the boot in.
If Prue Barnes was only sworn in as executive head in January, how come she'd already thrown out the head's furniture and redecorated his room by the beginning of December?
The whole business stinks.
There was clearly a hidden agenda here. This was not a failing school - it was one of the borough's best schools and if the council had wanted it to remain its could easily have been shown to any inspecting Ofsted team worth their salt. They've obviously got something else in mind for the school or for the site and the headteacher going off sick gave them the perfect opportunity to put the boot in. If Prue Barnes was only sworn in as executive head in January, how come she'd already thrown out the head's furniture and redecorated his room by the beginning of December? The whole business stinks. leytonoldboy2
  • Score: 2

11:40am Sun 3 Aug 14

Miranam says...

The agenda is not hidden. Cllr. Mark Rusling clearly states that under the new Federation there will be career opportunites available for staff. As there are virtually no staff left at Dawlish, it's not difficult to draw a conclusion here. The council are also making huge savings by not employing a full time head. Not surprising the decision was unanimous with no Dawlish staff representation on the governing body. So much to be gained. Those trying to present their case against the
Federation needed a miracle to happen up against this scenario.
From the comments read it seems that nobody was denying that results needed to improve, the outcry was against the drastic measures taken to achieve this. Those on the inside stood powerless and without a voice to present a case for preserving some of the school's finer points. It is not surprising that teachers with no democratic choices left, chose the reluctant option of applying for jobs elsewhere.
Finally, only those of us, whether pupil, parent or staff who had the opportunity and privilege of experiencing the great Dawlish Primary as it once was, will really understand the feelings of loss we tried to convey. I am sure I speak for many when I pay tribute to all those who made it great and find myself privileged and fortunate to have been part of it.
The agenda is not hidden. Cllr. Mark Rusling clearly states that under the new Federation there will be career opportunites available for staff. As there are virtually no staff left at Dawlish, it's not difficult to draw a conclusion here. The council are also making huge savings by not employing a full time head. Not surprising the decision was unanimous with no Dawlish staff representation on the governing body. So much to be gained. Those trying to present their case against the Federation needed a miracle to happen up against this scenario. From the comments read it seems that nobody was denying that results needed to improve, the outcry was against the drastic measures taken to achieve this. Those on the inside stood powerless and without a voice to present a case for preserving some of the school's finer points. It is not surprising that teachers with no democratic choices left, chose the reluctant option of applying for jobs elsewhere. Finally, only those of us, whether pupil, parent or staff who had the opportunity and privilege of experiencing the great Dawlish Primary as it once was, will really understand the feelings of loss we tried to convey. I am sure I speak for many when I pay tribute to all those who made it great and find myself privileged and fortunate to have been part of it. Miranam
  • Score: 2

12:19pm Sun 3 Aug 14

leytonoldboy2 says...

Hmm, career opportunities. I wonder if PB suggests to new staff that, like her, they have a bag packed under their desks? She's been known to joke of her exit plan on more than one occasion.
(I wonder how long they'll allow this comment to stay here?)
Hmm, career opportunities. I wonder if PB suggests to new staff that, like her, they have a bag packed under their desks? She's been known to joke of her exit plan on more than one occasion. (I wonder how long they'll allow this comment to stay here?) leytonoldboy2
  • Score: 2

11:23am Thu 7 Aug 14

parent1981 says...

I just want to say how disappointed I am about the hard federation, it was unnecessary. What parents want is NOT Prue Barnes who have no idea about child psychology and what is good for them. She is probably the worst choice that the council could make, I agree with leytonboy2, the whole business stinks!!!

Prue Barnes is a horrible women, she treat people (parents and children) on many occasions in a way she is a better human being, she laugh at them and allow bullied children to suffer in school that she lead. This women is disgusting and should be not allowed to work with children.
And now she is a head teacher for my children.

I have to criticise The Guardian as your articles do not describe the situation in the real light, I feel like you cover up for the council and Prue Barnes, it doesn't make me feel safe and protected by media!

I'm wondering if rights to free speech still exists???
I just want to say how disappointed I am about the hard federation, it was unnecessary. What parents want is NOT Prue Barnes who have no idea about child psychology and what is good for them. She is probably the worst choice that the council could make, I agree with leytonboy2, the whole business stinks!!! Prue Barnes is a horrible women, she treat people (parents and children) on many occasions in a way she is a better human being, she laugh at them and allow bullied children to suffer in school that she lead. This women is disgusting and should be not allowed to work with children. And now she is a head teacher for my children. I have to criticise The Guardian as your articles do not describe the situation in the real light, I feel like you cover up for the council and Prue Barnes, it doesn't make me feel safe and protected by media! I'm wondering if rights to free speech still exists??? parent1981
  • Score: 2

4:55pm Thu 7 Aug 14

leytonoldboy2 says...

Shame there isn't a union for parents, they need to get together with their stories. On their own they just get batted away like annoying flies but if you put the stories together they might be treated with a bit more respect.
Shame there isn't a union for parents, they need to get together with their stories. On their own they just get batted away like annoying flies but if you put the stories together they might be treated with a bit more respect. leytonoldboy2
  • Score: 2

9:19pm Fri 8 Aug 14

parent1981 says...

I think it is not the end of our battle, we will see what will happen in Dawlish in the new academic year, if Prue Barnes will continue with her bossing around we will let her know that nobody wants her there, expect the council of course...
I cant wait for the women to be treated the same way as she treat our children and the parents.

I will keep my years and eyes open...I hope the other parents too.
I think it is not the end of our battle, we will see what will happen in Dawlish in the new academic year, if Prue Barnes will continue with her bossing around we will let her know that nobody wants her there, expect the council of course... I cant wait for the women to be treated the same way as she treat our children and the parents. I will keep my years and eyes open...I hope the other parents too. parent1981
  • Score: 2

10:41pm Fri 8 Aug 14

EastisEast says...

LOB2 - "stories"? Yes it would appear that your posts are mainly tittle tattle.

What is upsetting to me is that your insults and derogatory stories show no respect for the hundreds of Newport parents and children, with no credit given to their hard work or their teachers hard work at Newport to help the school become outstanding. I don't believe you are representative of the Newport community, as I truly believe that "community" should include showing respect for your neighbours.

Parent1981 - you should keep your ears and eyes open, but also your mind. The new teachers will have a hard task in settling your children, and ensuring you can see improvements made in the right way; this will be harder if you don't give them a chance. I hope your fears turn out to be unwarranted.

Finally, I really don't believe that the majority of Dawlish parents can be happy knowing that only 1 in 5 of their children are attaining the national standard, I hope the changes prove to be successful, and that at the end of next year this transition, though painful now, is seen as a positive in terms of your children's education and growth.

All the best.
LOB2 - "stories"? Yes it would appear that your posts are mainly tittle tattle. What is upsetting to me is that your insults and derogatory stories show no respect for the hundreds of Newport parents and children, with no credit given to their hard work or their teachers hard work at Newport to help the school become outstanding. I don't believe you are representative of the Newport community, as I truly believe that "community" should include showing respect for your neighbours. Parent1981 - you should keep your ears and eyes open, but also your mind. The new teachers will have a hard task in settling your children, and ensuring you can see improvements made in the right way; this will be harder if you don't give them a chance. I hope your fears turn out to be unwarranted. Finally, I really don't believe that the majority of Dawlish parents can be happy knowing that only 1 in 5 of their children are attaining the national standard, I hope the changes prove to be successful, and that at the end of next year this transition, though painful now, is seen as a positive in terms of your children's education and growth. All the best. EastisEast
  • Score: -2

11:21am Sat 9 Aug 14

leytonoldboy2 says...

Oh really, Eastiseast, it’s obvious to everyone except you, it seems, that it isn’t the parents and children being disrespected here. You seem to have no understanding at all of what it means to be a parent. Do you really think there is some motivation driving this campaign, other than the welfare of people’s children?
What you hold up as great achievements, ie an ‘outstanding’ ofsted report and sats, are fairly meaningless as they signify little in terms of proper education. All they show here, knowing the history, is that a disproportionate amount of time has gone into these things while education has been ignored. Does the number of car drivers indicate the level of education society has or even how good people are at driving? No, it shows how many people have been trained to pass the driving test.
As for being open minded, again I think you have no idea what parents feel for their children or you would know that these parents will be hoping against hope that they are wrong and you are right. Their children’s futures are far and away more important to them than winning an argument and if the kids are happy and successful with your methods they will be contented. They would be fools, however, to believe just because you say so, that these methods which have been so destructive up until now, will be good in the future.
For parents it is all about the children—what else would it be? But for the people like you, arguing the other case, there are also the factors of status, power, money etc. Surely you are not going to say you care more about the kids than their parents do which seems to be what you imply.
Oh really, Eastiseast, it’s obvious to everyone except you, it seems, that it isn’t the parents and children being disrespected here. You seem to have no understanding at all of what it means to be a parent. Do you really think there is some motivation driving this campaign, other than the welfare of people’s children? What you hold up as great achievements, ie an ‘outstanding’ ofsted report and sats, are fairly meaningless as they signify little in terms of proper education. All they show here, knowing the history, is that a disproportionate amount of time has gone into these things while education has been ignored. Does the number of car drivers indicate the level of education society has or even how good people are at driving? No, it shows how many people have been trained to pass the driving test. As for being open minded, again I think you have no idea what parents feel for their children or you would know that these parents will be hoping against hope that they are wrong and you are right. Their children’s futures are far and away more important to them than winning an argument and if the kids are happy and successful with your methods they will be contented. They would be fools, however, to believe just because you say so, that these methods which have been so destructive up until now, will be good in the future. For parents it is all about the children—what else would it be? But for the people like you, arguing the other case, there are also the factors of status, power, money etc. Surely you are not going to say you care more about the kids than their parents do which seems to be what you imply. leytonoldboy2
  • Score: 2

3:42pm Sat 9 Aug 14

runningupthathill says...

EastisEast, you write as though you think parents who refer to their actual experiences at Dawlish since last Autumn - and explain how that makes them feel - are making it up. Why on earth would they do that? Can't you accept what they say? I think it's insulting not to believe them.
Then you say Dawlish parents cannot be happy knowing only one in five of their children are attaining the national standard. Are you saying that only 20% of Dawlish pupils are reaching Level 4 in Year 6? If so, please explain. I think your claim is misleading.
EastisEast, you write as though you think parents who refer to their actual experiences at Dawlish since last Autumn - and explain how that makes them feel - are making it up. Why on earth would they do that? Can't you accept what they say? I think it's insulting not to believe them. Then you say Dawlish parents cannot be happy knowing only one in five of their children are attaining the national standard. Are you saying that only 20% of Dawlish pupils are reaching Level 4 in Year 6? If so, please explain. I think your claim is misleading. runningupthathill
  • Score: 1

8:06pm Wed 20 Aug 14

leytonoldboy2 says...

EastisEast and Teacherforlife, from your stance in this I take it you make up part of the senior management of Newport and Dawlish schools. For that reason I address this to you two. I have been listening to the Radio 4 programmes called ’The Educators’ and I assume you have too, if not, I suggest you get them on I-player. You may take offence at what I am about to suggest but, contrary to what you may believe, I do not want Dawlish to fail under your leadership. My suggestion is that you use these programmes as a stimulus for discussions with staff about effective education. In a healthy institution it is necessary to show genuine appreciation of the input of all its workforce in order to gain people’s respect and goodwill. Intelligent people need to know the rationale behind decisions, even if they do not agree with them. They should also be allowed to disagree without recriminations or accusations of negativity.

Just a thought.
EastisEast and Teacherforlife, from your stance in this I take it you make up part of the senior management of Newport and Dawlish schools. For that reason I address this to you two. I have been listening to the Radio 4 programmes called ’The Educators’ and I assume you have too, if not, I suggest you get them on I-player. You may take offence at what I am about to suggest but, contrary to what you may believe, I do not want Dawlish to fail under your leadership. My suggestion is that you use these programmes as a stimulus for discussions with staff about effective education. In a healthy institution it is necessary to show genuine appreciation of the input of all its workforce in order to gain people’s respect and goodwill. Intelligent people need to know the rationale behind decisions, even if they do not agree with them. They should also be allowed to disagree without recriminations or accusations of negativity. Just a thought. leytonoldboy2
  • Score: 1

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