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recently, the town of Thetford in Norfolk was served by two secondary
schools (Rosemary Musker High School and Charles Burrell Humanities
School) for students aged between 11-18.
each school has reliably served the North and South communities of
in June 2010, proposals were rushed through to create an Academy in
Thetford, which would combine the two high schools, along with a new
third element "The Forum" at the centre of the town.
the scenes, the Moving Thetford Learning Group had been planning a new
education system for Thetford since November 2008. (Read the full
Proposed Thetford Academy.pdf (12.5Mb)
official feasibility studies had been carried out since March 2010, less
than one month (June 2010) was set aside for public consultation.
The Academy was immediately approved by the Local and National
Governments and the two schools combined to become Thetford Academy,
although teaching would still be carried out at the same schools with the
few people actually voted for the Academy. The results are shown here.
Academy began in September 2010 with a new Principal
Designate. Mrs Christine Carey was awarded the £115,000+ post.
was spent re-painting the schools in bright colours, strict new uniforms
that were excessively hot during the Summer and a brand new website was
commissioned, although it still has some way to go (unless it is being
September, no funding was as yet forthcoming to allow the expansion of
was going as could be expected until rumours began circulating around the
Academy that it was going to be split into two separate schools under the
same name. The plans were finally outlined as follows...
25th November 2010
no formal funding for the Academy in its original form, Mrs Carey and her
entourage have decided that the pupils want to "join hands across
Thetford" and must be given what they desire.
Second Proposal is to split the Academy back into 2 "schools",
one for years 7-9 and the other for 14-19 year olds. (They can't
even decide on a standard age description).
this has the backing of the main sponsors (the Principal of Wymondham College), the Local Authorities and the
Heads of Local Primary Schools. Good then. What about the
parents who will have to put up with this?
School Senate is made up primarily of "Year 11" students who
will not be affected by the planned changes to the Academy.
recent reports of Thetford primary schools being below National standards,
maybe their Head Teachers should spend more time looking after their own
is an old, small town. A by-pass was needed for traffic to avoid
driving through the centre.
two schools catering for different age groups at either ends of the town,
will mean pupils travelling from one half of the town to the other,
whilst other pupils are travelling in the opposite direction, creating
congestion and increasing journey times.
with children attending both schools will now have to travel to the both
sides of town to drop-off their children, increasing their journey times.
with parents who cannot drive must be able to make their own way across
town to their school.
this proposal goes ahead then it won't be long before the first "Carey casualties" are created.
Academy has not yet demonstrated that it is capable of fulfilling its
first promises before it has ideas of grandeur.
there has been no time for public consultation. The first public
meeting in December 2010 to discuss the proposal was re-scheduled at the
background/qualifications does Mrs Carey have for running an Academy?
when asked by a parent to explain the reason for becoming an Academy, did
she answer "money"?
the Principal of an out of town boarding school Chairman to the Board of
highway plans have been put in place for the town centre by the local
council to cope with the additional traffic caused by splitting the
Academy and the additional 6,500 homes planned in the regeneration of
website has the following aims:
a focus for parents to voice their opposition to the scheme.
Lobby Councillors to oppose the above scheme.
Immediately stop the plans to split the Academy into two schools.
Remove Mrs Carey from the post of Principal.
Elect a partisan parent either onto the Board of Governors or Local
January 2011, a self-run student protest took place outside of the former
Rosemary Musker High School despite some teachers telling the students
not to do so. This was reported in the local TV news and local
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was set-up following the arrogant comments made by the Principal
regarding the students actions. Her "you've had your
protest, now do what we say" attitude was not one I liked.
January, there have been numerous meetings, online campaigns and
petitions to stop the school mergers taking place.
local, regional or national government department was able or willing to
step in to stop the proposed changes to our children's education.
The standard response was that "the Academy is now an independent
entity and as such was answerable only to itself".
parent power or simply just incompetence on the part of the Governors has
meant that plans to move up to 400 pupils across town each day was
cancelled when plans to purchase a green-field site were abandoned.
Plans were announced at the same time that pupils would be combined at
the former Rosemary High School in 2013, but would remain at their
existing schools until then. Read the notice here.
April 2011, Principal Carey resigned from her post of less than a year,
stating health reasons for her decision. Read her
Wymondham College withdrew from being Lead Sponsor of the Academy,
handing over the baton to a local agricultural college, after an
independent review found that the College was failing in its duties.
month, at the re-launch of the Academy Website, acting principal Cathy
Spillane was confirmed as permanent principal of the Academy.
Oftsed inspection in
early 2012 was critical of the Academies teaching and gave a warning
that if improvements weren't made then radical steps would be taken.
It was perhaps
inevitable that planning permission was approved by Norfolk County
Council in March 2012 for an extension to the north campus for a single
site academy. The Academy had already announced dates for the
transition. Everyone took it as a foregone conclusion.
Despite having no
overall control of the independently run Academy, NCC chose to ignore
all of the warning signs and allow the construction to go ahead.
approved Travel Plan was blatantly inadequate.
Having had the Travel
Plan approved (including how children would cycle and use the existing
public transport system), Thetford Academy then announced a new biking scheme
and that it would have to subsidise the woeful existing bus service.
It has come to light
through official documents, such as the latest Ofsted report, that many teachers and staff have
decided to leave the Academy over the last few years.
In March 2013, an
inspection found that the Academy was significantly failing in its
teaching. The Academy has been placed into special measures.
Recommendations made in 2012 have not been followed up. Teaching
standards are unacceptable and ultimate responsibility for the failure
is down to the Directors of the Learning Thetford Trust and the
Governors of the Academy.