Failing Morden school rejects council's academy plan
A failing secondary school has rejected plans for it to be adopted into a south-London family of city academies and has blamed the council for a lack of support.
In a sharp rebuke, the governors of Bishopsford Art College, in Morden, said making the school part of the Harris Federation would “decimate the college, its ethos and culture”.
The secondary school in Lilleshall was rated “inadequate” in each of its inspection categories after a recent visit by schools watchdog Ofsted.
The school has now been placed under special measures and, under laws brought in by the coalition government, must be pushed by the council towards becoming an academy.
Merton Council has been in talks with Lord Harris of Peckham to be the council’s preferred academy sponsor and the plan has been endorsed by Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden.
But it has now merged that, following a presentation by the Harris Federation to Bishopsford’s governors on February 27 – the school has asked the council to reject Harris and instead choose an alternative sponsor.
Parents of Bishopsford have also expressed concern at it being part of the federation, with one commenting: "all Harris schools are the same".
The governors, led by chairman Sandra Peddy, have named their preference as Academies Enterprise Trust.
Their report to Merton Council, on March 28, said: “Governors questioned whether the Harris model would provide the right learning environment for some of the most vulnerable students in the authority who currently attend Bishopsford Arts College.
“Governors were not assured that the Harris model, which we believe would decimate the college, its ethos and culture, would provide the right environment for our students.
“Council members will be mindful of the fact the Bishopsford suffered significantly from the opening of the two academies five years ago in terms of our continued falling student numbers and the skewed number of students with significant learning and behavioural needs that attend the college.
“The senior management team have produced improving outcomes for these students despite this significant disadvantage and without the benefit of academy status or indeed appropriate school improvement support from the local authority.“
Merton Council’s cabinet will meet on Wednesday, April 4, to discuss the setting up of an interim executive board, who will temporarily take charge of the school and manage its transformation into an academy.
The final Ofsted report has now been published, three weeks after the Wimbledon Guardian exclusively revealed it would say Bishopsford Art College is failing.
The report says:
- Students’ attainment is well below the national average and the rate of improvement made by the school is not fast enough;
- Underachievement in English is widespread and students continue to make poor progress;
- White British boys and a significant number of students with behavioural and emotional difficulties make slower overall progress than other children;
- The quality of teaching is inadequate;
- Students are generally well behaved but many lessons are disrupted by poor behaviour, particularly in lower ability sets or when new or supply teachers are in charge;
- Attendance is improving but remains low;
- Efforts to improve the school’s performance “is not sufficiently focused or rigorous to effect the necessary improvements fast enough.”
In a letter to students and parents of the school, Ofsted inspector Emma Inge wrote: “Because we are concerned about the quality of education offered by the school, we have recommended that it is placed in a category called ‘special measures’.
“This will mean that the school will be supported to improve and inspectors, will monitor progress.”