can read online notices regarding the Academy and visit relevant external
links by clicking on the hyper-links. The comments on this page are
those of the site administrator and do not necessarily reflect the views
of the parents of Thetford.
NOTE: THIS SITE IS NO
IT IS FOR ARCHIVE PURPOSES ONLY
link: What is Special Measures?
Another Principal bites the dust
fitting that as this website begins to voluntarily wind down, Douglas
Blackledge has stepped down as Principal of Furness Academy.
2010/11, Mr Blackledge was involved in the formation of the Furness
Academy in Cumbria and many parents were upset at the lack of
accountability during this process.
Principal was suspended in June following an Ofsted inspection which
found the school to be "inadequate" and needing Special Measures.
Academy has similarities with Thetford Academy in that a parent campaign
was set-up to campaign against the tactics used to form the new school
and this website was based on one such website which, unfortunately, was
forcefully taken over and closed down by the authorities.
Blackledge has "stepped down" in the same manner as Christine Carey
"stepped down" due to illness or Cathy Spillane "stepped down" to give
way to the new Executive Principal or the Thetford Learning Trust
"stepped down" in favour of the Inspiration Trust.
This is for you Derek.
the Lord Mayors show
Thetford Academy continues post-Ofsted. Some teachers
exhausted and ill from the pressures to having to perform have been
forced to take time off leaving pupils education disrupted.
However, since the Academy does not produce league tables of Teacher
attendance we will never know how much of a problem this is.
Academy is again stressing the importance of uniform as a way of
"unifying" the school spirit. Good idea. Please submit your
designs for a standardised teachers uniform to Rachel de Souza...
releases Official inspection report [Report]
Definition: "Re-son-able" - Agreeable or moderate.
Not excellent. Not poor.
inspection was carried out on 15th/16th October 2013. The
inspectors made observations and spoke to students, parents, several
members of the governing body, but strangely, only "held a
telephone conversation with a representative of the sponsors".
Souza is CEO of the Inspiration Trust, the sponsors of Thetford Academy.
She has made appearances on BBC TV and Radio, given interviews by local
and national newspapers, met local and Government MP's, but was not
available to talk in person to the HMI during its inspection???
Similarly, many members of the Board of Governors are also Directors of
the Inspiration Trust. Did they all do a runner too?
Clarification is required.
states that the Academy "may" appoint newly qualified teachers.
Although only if accompanied with a plan of how the sponsor proposes to
support these NQTs. However, the report concludes with the phrase:
strongly recommend that the academy should not seek to appoint newly
progress has yet to be seen in terms of exam results following the
change of sponsor. The report notes, "Examination results in
the sixth form were similar to the the previous year..." and "...overall,
too few students made the progress they should".
spectrum of teaching still ranges from inadequate to outstanding.
Many teachers used much of their own "extra-curricular" time to create
lesson plans to impress the inspectors. This is to be recognised.
Taylors' statement that "responses on Parent View indicate that there
is now a significant majority who would recommend the academy" is
flawed. Firstly, 54% in favour and 46% against is NOT
statistically significant either way. [ParentView
Survey] Secondly, parents who have chosen to move their
children away from the academy are less likely to express their opinion
on a school that they no longer support. (Given that Thetford
Academy is now THE ONLY secondary school in Thetford, parents don't have
much of a choice either way!)
conclusion, the report lists several areas where improvements should be
made prior to the next inspection: "quality of teaching",
"engaging students", "improving leadership and management" and carrying
out an external review of the governance.
Keeping ones feet firmly planted
Those people visiting
the all-new Thetford Academy website, reading the local
newspapers or following Twitter would be forgiven for believing that the
Academy has shaken off its "failing" image and become a beacon of
First indications are
that the HMI inspectors were impressed with the improvements made since
their previous visit. "...reasonable progress..." has been
The Inspiration Trust
has released titbits of the report stating that Students believed the
Academy was "a different place". (It is! It's a new £19m
different place - Ed). However, most of the changes specified
relate to the ethos of the students.
To date, no exams have
been sat and no performance records have been published to demonstrate
any improvement in teaching standards and/or leadership since the new
Sponsors took over.
legislation, Ofsted should post the results of an inspection within 15
working days from the end of the inspection. (The inspection ended
on 16th October and should be available online by 6th November).
We await publication
of the official report. Watch this
The Thetford Learning Trust lives on
Thetford Learning Trust (TLT), the Trust that was originally formed to
run the new Academy, is still going strong.
be that despite all of the media hype (BBC TV, Radio and Local
Newspapers), the Inspiration Trust does not yet officially
control Thetford Academy.
correspondence with the DfE states that although new Articles of
Association have been approved by the Education Funding Agency,
strangely, these must then be ratified by the TLT, before lodging
them with Companies House. Once a new Funding Agreement with the
Inspiration Trust is in place, the TLT will vote to be dissolved.
issued this week show that the following people have been appointed as
Directors of the Thetford Learning Trust: Theodore Agnew, David
Tibble, Benjamin Rogers and Rachel de Souza. All of whom are also
Directors of The Inspiration Trust.
Agnew is also Chair of the Governments Academies Board. As such,
his role is to advise Lord Nash, the minister for Academies and Free
Schools, on academy performance and the capacity of academy chains.
No bias there then...
Last week eight major
British companies were found guilty of using a register of over 3000
names to blacklist workers who had either been active Union
members or merely concerned about Health & Safety matters. [Link]. It is
anticipated that a compensation fund will be set-up to recompense those
affected by their exclusion.
In the same manner
however, Teachers are frightened to speak out against their employers
for fear of being victimised and perhaps even losing their jobs and yet
the Unions and/or Education ministers do not appear to be looking into
Something for the weekend
Academy is currently undergoing its second HMI inspection as part of its
Special Measures status. The visit is expected to be more of a
"monitoring" exercise than a full investigation.
already rushed off their feet following edicts laid down by the numerous
Heads and Vice Heads of Departments and Years are also being asked to
find time to make the academy look like it's running smoothly when
officers arrive for their look-around.
to the Official Thetford Academy website will have noticed that their
browser is re-directed to a new site hosted by the Inspiration Trust.
The updated site includes images taken at the recently completed £19m
new-build. The slick site also includes Twitter feeds and
frighteningly obvious statements such as "We aim to develop reading,
writing, communication and mathematical skills". [See
here] Isn't this
what a school SHOULD be doing!?
here's something to ponder whilst we wait for the results of the latest
monitoring exercise. Elizabeth Truss MP for South-West Norfolk and
(still, despite a recent cabinet reshuffle) Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education has given her
views regarding last weeks teachers strike!
to her speech here] [or download
the full debate in PDF]
finally...don't forget to set your Betamax video recorders for 11.15am
on Sunday Morning (BBC1 East)! Fickle TV scheduling
aside it may be the chance to see yours truly discussing Thetford
Academy with BBC Producer Deborah McGurran in a report about two failing
academies in the Eastern region.
Teething problems at the Academy
Academy is currently suffering a spate of teething problems in its brand
new £19m refurbishment.
Problems with the
final design allow pupils to use an open ended toilet area as a
"cut-through" between corridors and there is no provision for student toilets in the new Sixth Form block.
serious safety concerns
with some of the fire doors either being locked or blocked with items
still awaiting to be put in storage.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday a
fault with the Education system saw members of the NASUWT and NUT walk
out in industrial action.
There was no sign of a
protest at the academy itself as pupils were treated to a "last day of
term" type of school day with each Year being treated to "special
activities" ranging from Sports or Careers days to
UPDATE: I have
been informed that some teaching staff from these unions DID carry out
their teaching duties and put the welfare of the children ahead of their
disagreement with a non co-operative government. These teachers
are to be applauded (perhaps with a standing ovation?!)
investigation into Academies
The BBC's "Politics
Show" with Deborah McGurran is currently investigating Academies in the
Eastern region. Highlighting problems with two academies in
particular. As part of which, I was asked to give a parents eye
account of the problems that have occurred over the last 3 years in the
case of Thetford Academy and how the academy system fails to give
parents a say in the running of their local school.
Wider ranging issues
such as funding and management may also be included in the report which
is expected to be aired on Sunday 13th October on BBC 1 East.
"How to be a successful Trust"
Congratulations. You are now the Sponsor of a large group of
Schools funded directly by central Government, no experience necessary
and best of all, you do not have to answer to anyone. Here's a
list of things to help you get through those first few weeks...
Make as many wild and unsubstantiated statements as possible:
In the early days of a new Sponsorship, you can never be too positive.
No-one will remember your over-zealous promises in a years time and
everyone loves a go-getter! Remember you are a Trust and so
therefore you do not have to explain how this will be done.
Repeat statements as often as possible: Have a Twitter
account? Why not keep posting the same statements over and over
again. Soon everyone will be congratulating you on your success -
even though you haven't actually done anything yet! Also, why not
write an exemplary item about a member of staff in your own
newsletter and then post the link online so that everyone sees that the
staff member MUST be good as they are in a newsletter!
the Media: Be sure to get on the side of the local media
(newspapers etc). They are less likely to write any bad
stories about you in the future if you take them on a personal tour of
your school or perhaps buy them a coffee at one of those Internet Cafés.
It's not bribery, good stories don't write themselves!
Brown-nose Politicians: MP's and local councillors love to
be associated with success. Apart from the media, your only
enemy is democracy. MP's know this - so should you.
Getting a picture of the local MP touring your school in the local paper
Claim past successes as your own: Just inherited a brand
new school? Why not pretend that YOU built it. Use phrases
such as "...our new build..." and "...our wonderful
facilities" in all of your literature.
with success: If one of your new teachers was in any way
associated with a successful school somewhere else - even though they
may not have had anything to do with that success, make sure that you
bring that success to your own school "by association".
Remove any dead-wood: Make sure that anything connected
with the negativity of the past is carefully sidelined. Any
under-performing Principals, trouble-making Parent Action Groups or any remnants of the
old Board of Governors should either be given alternative tasks or
Thetford Academy's new
Executive Principal Adrian "I have a Dream" Ball, continued this week to
make more headline promises. During a meeting of prospective
parents, the Principal made more unvalidated statements than a Shadow
Leader at a Labour Party Conference.
Since taking over the role
on 1st September, Mr Ball has said:
commitment to the Thetford community is to transform education with the
academy becoming an outstanding school within three years"
Via Twitter: "promises
Good Section 5 Ofsted & out of special measures in 1 yr."
Via Twitter: "pledges
no child will fall behind at Thetford Academy"
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall" -
Mr Ball will soon get
the opportunity to prove himself as Thetford Academy gears up for its second
"section 5" visit from Her Majesty's Inspectorate as
part of a continuing monitoring process to check that the Academy is
doing all that can be done to remove its "Special Measures"
Green re-cycling bins? -
Footbridge and nature
area? - Tick
Student toilets in new
Sixth Form? - No. Pupils must use toilets in other blocks.
runs Thetford Academy?
were to read local newspapers and media coverage -
to The Inspiration Trust - The Inspiration Trust [website]
Academy's website lists Governors
of The Thetford Learning Trust, headed by Ms de Souza. The
position of Principal on the Board is still retained by Miss
on the Board include David Tibble, Theodore Agnew, Ben Rogers and Harry
Buscall. The Academy website has removed descriptions of who these
people are or what they do. Messrs Tibble, Agnew and Rogers are
all Directors of The Inspiration Trust.
Formalities have been dispensed with and it appears that a "free for
all" has taken place.
Thetford Head disappears (Part II)
there has been no sighting of Principal Spillane at all during the start
of the new term at Thetford Academy. Despite the opening of the
much vaunted £19m new build, much of the press coverage has been of the
Inspiration Trusts CEO Ms de Souza and the newly appointed Executive
Principal Mr Ball.
Unconfirmed reports claim that Miss Spillane, who was recently
usurped in a coup de grâce,
is away from work "due to illness". [cf the
previous Principal who became ill]
it has taken just two days for the new Executive Principal to lay down
the law regarding dress code at the new 6th form. In a packed
meeting of the upper school, Mr Ball told students that they must wear
formal attire; boys - shirts and ties and girls - blouses, with no-one
wearing jeans of any description.
administering the diktat Mr Ball deferred any questions by the pupils "to
the end of the meeting". However, once he had finished his
unscripted speech, the new Executive promptly disappeared leaving the
Head of 6th Form to field questions posed by the mature students.
As yet, no
letter has been sent to parents to inform them of the late changes to
the school dress-code.
Thetford Head disappears
Following yesterdays news that new Executive Principal Adrain Ball had
taken over the Twitter username @ThetfordHead and had been
messages of congratulations from well-wishers and posting information
about the staff training days, today it appears
that the username has mysteriously disappeared... Mr Ball has
strangely reverted to tweeting using his old "iron man" image and the
Elizabeth Truss has visited the new buildings at Thetford Academy and
exclaimed that they were "amazing". Shame then, that Thetford does
not have two upgraded schools and a new Forum at the centre of town as
promised in the original prospectus
for Thetford Academy.
For the record, Miss Truss is
"Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State" (a tertiary tier) "with
responsibility for education and childcare". She is not
Education Minister. Also, those tweeting Liz should direct the
them to @TrussLiz and not @LizTruss!!
The new term begins at the Academy
next week and parents would have had reason to complain to the Plain
English Campaign following a confusing and not fully informative text
sent to their phones this week. No mention is made of the new Year
12 or 13's. Perhaps time to update the website and GET OFF
Ball takes over Twitter tag
The new Executive Principal of Thetford
Academy (Mr Adrian Ball) has taken no time in taking over the Twitter tag
@ThetfordHead from the existing
Principal Cathy Spillane.
As the new Inspiration Trust took over as
sponsor, their CEO tweeted:
Rachel de Souza @Rachel_deSouza
Big welcome to Twitter to @ThetfordHead
looking fwd to working with her @inspirationeast @teachitso
@Claire_Heald @GreatYPA @BenRogersEdu
However, Mr Ball, who has previously used the
Twitter username @aidyball, obviously
feels that this is no longer good for his “Executive” image
and has begun using the moniker @ThetfordHead
in his latest tweets.
Two sites – one
Principal. One site –
two Principals? Watch this space…!
Trust makes an early signing
not unexpected move and just hours into taking over Thetford Academy, the
newly appointed Inspiration Trust has parachuted a new Executive
Principal into Thetford Academy to take over the day-to-day
running of the school. Not wishing to run Thetford Academy from
their offices in Norwich, the Trusts CEO, Ms de Souza has sent in Adrian
Ball, the ex-vice-principal of Ormiston Academy to take charge and
hopefully change the fortunes of the now combined Thetford Academy which
is due to open next week on a single site.
Principal Cathy Spillane could never have expected to have been given
free reign of a £19m new build after so disastrously steering the
academy into Special Measures in such a short space of time.
Trust realises that the buck now stops with Ms de Souza and her fellow
members. If only they could put in as much effort into teaching
the children of Thetford as they do Tweeting their every move,
then there may be hope!
a quote that we'll review in the years to come:
commitment to the Thetford community is to transform education with the
academy becoming an outstanding school within three years".
Adrian Ball September 2013.
in readiness for the new term, administration staff at the academy have
been undertaking "customer service training". Methinks
one week is not long enough! Teachers have also been practicing
"how to control pupil behaviour".
Ball also states that one of his first tasks is “…to improve student behaviour
and mutual respect”.
finally: The new Trust, its newly appointed Executive Principal and
even our glorious Member of Parliament have been patting each other on
the back and seem to be of the opinion that a brand new building will
result in a quick turnaround in fortunes at the academy.
Unfortunately, no-one has recently re-addressed the issue that children
will be forced to commute across town to a school that is no longer
local! How much does a new Executive Principal cost?
What price safe transport?
Exam Failure (again)
just 42% of Thetford Academy's A-level students achieved an A*-C grade,
down from 56% a year ago.
again, Principal Spillane blames poor A-level exam results on the
disruption of combining two schools into one academy. Nothing to do
with the poor leadership, teaching standards, ineffective Board of
Governors and the Sponsors simply walking away...
Stand by our man
Terry Jermy won the County Council seat for Thetford West last week in a
re-run election following the stepping down of the previously elected
UKIP candidate. [See here]
Mr Jermy's first priorities are to sort out the problems at Thetford
Academy and the ongoing saga of what is to become of the now defunct
Charles Burrell site.
would like to become a Governor of the Academy - although this is easier
said than done. The Board of Governors at the Academy is as tight
as the proverbial. However, we wish him good luck! Perhaps
the position held by Ms Chapman-Allen could be vacated.
also been active in the past in trying to negotiate with Norfolk County
Council over the future of the South Campus. Mr Jermy sent an open
letter to NCC as long ago as November
looks as though Thetford (West) has a new champion-elect. We watch
this young mans progress with interest.
first steps have been taken to dismantle the outgoing Thetford Learning
following members have wasted no time in terminating their Directorships
of the failed Trust: Melvyn Roffe, David Lawrence, (Dr) Elizabeth
(Ann) Williams, Peter Rout, William Boyd and Marion Chapman-Allen.
doubt the remaining Directors will also be keen to end their appointments
as soon as possible.
wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round"
process to hand over Thetford Academy into the hands of a multi-academy
trust is being undertaken...
an enquiry to the Department for Education, the following response was
Articles of Association have been drafted. These have been approved
by the Education Funding Agency on behalf of the Secretary of
State. The next steps are for the members of the Thetford Learning
Trust to pass a resolution agreeing to the new Articles which then need
to be lodged with Companies House. The revised Articles replace the
name of the principal sponsor and co-sponsors of the Thetford Learning
Trust with the Inspiration Trust.
a later stage it is intended that the Thetford Academy will join the
Inspiration Trust as part of its Multi-Academy Trust. This will
require a new Funding Agreement to be signed and for the existing
Thetford Learning Trust to be dissolved".
done. Moving Thetford Forward created an Academy that nobody wanted
and the Thetford Learning Trust gets to hand over a school in special
measures to a faceless Trust. Both parties get to walk away...
Burrell up for grabs
recent public meeting, Norfolk County Council has said that because it no
longer receives direct funding from central Government for the Thetford
Academy South Site (the former Charles Burrell High School), that it can
no longer be expected to run and maintain the site.
the formal closure of the South Campus this month, last minute
discussions are taking place to try and find a suitable paymaster for the
grounds and facitilies. Despite knowing that this was going to
happen some time ago, council leaders are only
just beginning to court suggestions.
newly created Free School will take over the sixth form part of the
school. The site is owned by Norfolk CC and Thetford Academy had
been paying a "peppercorn" rent for the site.
mention of an alternative High School was made by the local, district or
county councils once again confirming their backing of the amalgamated
Academy at the former Rosemary Musker High School.
school takes over High School
specialist Free School originally turned down by the Government in
November 2011 has won its "appeal" and will open in the former
Thomas Paine Sixth Form of the old Charles Burrell High School after a
brief period at the Scout & Guide camp at Two Mile Bottom.
new Free School will cater for a small number of special needs children.
this means that the existing South Campus will be largely unavailable for
any other use and any chances of creating a Free High School at the site
has been firmly removed. The site which had previously been home to
650 pupils, will now teach just 20 since all of its current students will
be commuting to the new Academy buildings 2.5 miles away in the North of
seems that all parties are now committed to creating the super Academy at
Croxton Road in September and are keen to burn their bridges so that no
chance of an alternative is made available.
this is not what the politicians tell you...
Truss MP - Alternative education mp3 flash
Gove MP - Competition mp3
afraid, be VERY afraid
investigations have uncovered the true extent of the
"super-trust", a sponsor given the responsibility of running
first glance, the Inspiration Trust seems too good to be true. A
knight in shining armour, brought in to turn around the fortunes of a
market town Academy left in Special Measures by previous Sponsors who did
not listen to parents concerns, failed to appoint a Parent Governor for
over a year and continued to "spin" exam results.
Trust has recently been appointed Sponsor to several East Anglian
Academies, but this is nothing compared to the leading Trusts in England
and Wales... [View
The Academies Enterprise
Trust (AET) has approximately 65 Academies and E-Act has over 30. What is it with Academies and purple! Do you think Thetford Academy will
be given individual attention? How can this be the case when the
Trust is trying to grab academies like streets on a monopoly board?
Sir Bruce Liddington, the Director-General of E-Act once said that he
"wanted a super-chain of 250 academies".
Victory Academy naively believes that being one of the first of
Inspirations acquisitions, that it will have a say in its
development. Wrong. The Trust is set-up as a
co-operative and is run for ALL of its Academies (as well as its
Directors). As a charity, the Trust is non-profit making, but that
doesn't stop the Directors taking a sizeable cut.
however, E-Act has been criticised by the DfE for poor accounting and the
AET has even been told that it cannot sponsor any more academies. [Full Story].
period is over
An open letter from the recently set-up
parent group, The Friends of Thetford Academy to Cathy Spillane, the
Principal of Thetford Academy shows the first signs of strains between
a late cancellation another Focus Group meeting was held at the North
Campus this morning.
group has raised concerns about Miss Spillane publishing minutes of a
previous meeting without it being signed off correctly and even pleading
for an Academy representative to attend the meetings!
Spillane complained last month that parents were not engaging with the
school and that they were somehow to blame for the academies poor Oftsed
report and failed HMI inspection.
FOTA has also re-iterated my own pet-grievance that there is not enough
parental influence on the Board of Governors.
However, it all appears academic (excuse the pun). Since
Thetford Academy has now been taken over by a super-trust, the parents of
Thetford will have even less influence in how their children are
is not one swalowe that bryngeth in somer"
It is with
cautious optimism that we welcome Rachel de Souza and her band of
Inspiration to Thetford. However, we should still be careful of
pinning all of our hopes on a one-trick pony.
Ms de Souza's track record is the turning around of Ormiston Victory
Academy in Costessey near Norwich. She was the Head of Ormiston
High School when it converted in 2010 and was awarded £15m of
Government finance for a building program. Like Thetford, Ormistons
new build is due to open in September.
Elizabeth Truss MP champions Ms de Souza on her "record" of
improving the education system in Norfolk, however, the Inspiration Trust
does not take over Cromer Academy until September, whilst its only other
academy, Great Yarmouth Primary is currently rated as
"satisfactory". But with fewer sponsors willing to risk
their reputations, the trust has also been asked to take over Norwich's
Sir Isaac Newton Free School in September 2013 and the Jane Austin Free
School in 2014.
The contrast between Ormiston Victory and Thetford could not be more
dramatic. According to Ofsteds "Parent View" figures, 80%
of parents at the Victory Academy believed that the school was well led
and managed. In Thetford, 80% think the opposite. Similarly, 85% of
parents would now recommend the Victory Academy to other parents, 80% of
those in Thetford would not!
The Inspiration Trust, (originally called The East Norfolk Academy Trust)
was founded by Ms de Souza in August 2012 on the back of her success in
Costessey and is currently run by 7 board members. Like all Academy
Trusts it is run as a non-profit pseudo-charity organisation. Being
newly established, it has yet to publish any accounts.
"The new academy sponsors the government hopes to recruit for
Norfolk schools may have to sack headteachers to drive up standards, an
education minister has said"
was how the EDP
reported the sentiment of Lord Nash, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of
State for Schools at a recent drive to increase the academy conversion
candidate springs to mind...
letter to parents and carers on Friday, it was announced that ALL of the
current sponsors of Thetford Academy would be stepping down with
immediate effect and that they would be handing over the legal trust of
the Academy to a Norfolk-wide Trust called the Inspiration Trust.
rats from a sinking ship, David Lawrence, the ex-lead sponsor parted with
am delighted that the Inspiration Trust has agreed to take the
sponsorship role for the Thetford Academy" - When things go
from bad to worse, it's always nice to be able to just walk away!!!
Cathy Spillane suggest that the changes were needed and the Academy needs
different sponsorship. She states "All of them have their own
institutions to run and organise..." - Surely the whole point
of sponsorship is the dual role taken on. These people knew what
was involved from the outset and are only prepared to take any glory.
for the record:
Ann Williams OBE
Williams, who was awarded an OBE in 2012 for Services to Further
Education, will be retiring from West Suffolk College in September 2013.
In a BBC report,
the Head of the Inspiration Trust, Ms Rachel de Souza, suggests
that having already led two schools out of Special Measures, the parents
of Thetford could "relax".
the Parents, Carers and Children of Thetford Academy have been misled,
unrepresented and unheard for too long. Promises of turnarounds
have failed to materialise and the Academy has even failed its first
Special Measures inspection.
WE will let YOU know when
we can relax, Ms de Souza.
Moves out of Special Measures
and is given an Oftsed "outstanding" rating
Attains exam results comparable
with like-for-like schools
Removes its underperforming
Safely moves into the New Building
and provides adequate transport for children commuting from South
are currently being made to see if the change of Trust is legal and
conforms to the Articles of Association and Academy Agreement.
note: The BBC report states that Ofsted Inspectors
"failed" the school because children felt unsafe. This
was not the main cause. Parents and Students have not raised these
concerns and the majority of parents who expressed an interest on the
Parent View website stated the opposite. The school was placed into
special measures because of the lack of leadership, poor teaching and
failing exam results.
been contacted by a parent who was concerned about the failure of the
recent HMI inspection as reported here. When the parent expressed
their concerns to the school about the lack of information regarding the
visit on 1st May, Miss Spillane wrote a letter in response.
letter regarding the visit has been placed on our website".
letter had in fact just been placed online, tucked away on the Ofsted
Report page (which if you were unaware that there had been a visit one
wouldn't normally view). However, the Academy has been caught
red-handed by naming the document "Ofsted-Inspection-Report-June-2013".
The inspection was on 1st May, the school received a copy on 2nd May and
this would have been called "Ofsted-Inspection-Report-May-2013"
had it had been published straight away.
Spillane was also unsure and confused as to why the parent had re-quoted
the phrase "there has been no significant progress".
BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THE REPORT SAYS!! READ
also maintains that the latest report was covered extensively in the
local media. She is obviously confusing her "failed
inspections" as it was the February inspection that was reported
(belatedly) in the Thetford & Brandon Times.
Spillane was selected to be Principal of Thetford Academy by a Board of
Governors largely run by the Sponsors who have been shown to be incapable
of running an Academy.
has no experience of leading a successful Academy and requires a mentor
to assist her in her £100,000+ position. She has even less
experience of turning around a failing school - even the latest HMI
inspectors judged that the academys Improvement Plan "was not fit
week sees the latest "Parent View" figures for June. With
Parent support at an all time low, it's time for a change of leadership
at the top. NOW!!!
Not fit for purpose
Inspectors from Her Majesty’s
Inspectorate have visited Thetford Academy as part of the ongoing Special
Measures monitoring of the high school. (Under legislation, the
responsibility to inspect the school during this period passes from
Ofsted to the HMI).
The “section 8” visit was made
on 1st May 2013. A two-page report
was sent to the school the following day. This has now been made
available on the Ofsted website.
have been no significant changes since the last inspection.”
Whilst the inspectors appreciate that changes have
been made and teachers, staff and even governors are receiving additional
training, the HMI inspector concluded his report with the following
sponsor’s statement of action is not fit for purpose”.
academy’s improvement plan is not fit for purpose”.
According to the report, the Academy has
failed to highlight what targets are to be met, who is responsible for
achieving those targets and who is going to ensure and check that these
targets are being met.
Under special measures, the Academy can expect
up to four more HMI inspections over the next year or so.
Therefore, the sponsors and administrators have just a few months to pull
their finger out until the next knock at the door. Watch this
Subsequent visits will investigate more deeply
into such problems as staff absence and other practical issues.
surprise, but not unexpected move, the Principal of a newly formed
Academy has been suspended.
Academy which was formed out of existing failing schools and which had
promised parents improvements in exam results and a new school building
has recently failed its Ofsted inspection.
in question is the Furness
Academy in Cumbria, which I have been following with interest as it
closely mirrors that of Thetford Academy:
Currently operates on two campuses (North & South)
buildings (costing £22m) for 1200 pupils, due to open in September
Standard academy "purple" branding
Failed its Ofsted inspection and put into Special Measures
Principal and sponsors consistently defend poor GCSE results.
[more details about
Furness Academy can be found here]
parents have backed the Governors decision to suspend the schools
principal Douglas Blackledge. Congratulations to those at Furness
for finally realising their mistake. Unfortunately, the same fate
may not occur at Thetford since the Governors are equally incompetant.
Hopefully, someone at Ofsted will take notice of the
"feedback" that it has asked for and act on the fact that 80% of parents at Thetford Academy
do not believe that the school is well led or managed.
A big thank
you to those who have taken the time to complete the online "Parent
View" questionnaire. By the 8th of May, a total of 49
parents had registered their views on the Ofsted website compared with
just 15 at the start of April. (This may not sound like many, but
only 88 people voted in favour of Rosemary Musker and Charles Burrell
becoming an Academy!)
this figure will be updated next month...
the results speak volumes. Whilst most parents are happy that their
child feels safe at the school - this is to be expected - parents
re-iterate their concerns regarding teaching and administration:
parents (who voted) disagreed (or strongly disagreed) that their child
was being taught well at this school.
thought that the school failed to ensure that the pupils were well
behaved, and again,
disagreed that the school was well managed. (A whopping 51% strongly
one could argue that happy parents do not visit Ofsted
websites. However, it should be noted that most of the blame lies
with the teachers and administrators for the failure to turn two
improving schools into one.
at the academy have expressed their feelings about the school in the only
way they know - via social media. Here is a collection of some of
Vox Discipuli pdf (1.5Mb)
long running saga that is strangely paralleled with Thetford Academy,
Furness Academy in Cumbria has also been placed in Special Measures.
Academy was formed out of 3 existing schools, shares the same
"branding" and achieved similarly poor results in its early
NAHT in denial
Hunter, the President of the National Association of Head Teachers last
week claimed that "UK education is not a failing system".
She accuses Government ministers of bullying schools into becoming
academies (Thetford Academy was driven through by a non-elected quango
and passed by a County Council that was glad to see the back of it).
"pushing through changes without proper consultation", these
are tactics previously employed by the Governors and Administrators of
Hunter needs to visit Barrow and Thetford...
Academy has published its Action Plan
which it hopes will prevent the Academy from being taken over and run
completely by Her Majestys Inspectorate. The Action Plan, which
followed a recent Ofsted Inspection Improvement Notice, sets out targets
for Exam success, Attendance and how Teachers and Pupils must act in
order to improve the overall standard of education.
a new action group, "Friends of Thetford Academy" has been
formed to rally support for Miss Spillane. Unlike the paid mentor
already supplied to the Principal, the FOTAcademy is offering to
help bring about the changes required for free.
whilst the enthusiasm shown by FOTAcademy is admirable, some of
their ideas have been tried before:
to 'Liz Truss MP..." (Been there)
meeting to rally ideas..." (Done that)
to local press..." (Got the T-Shirt)
Spillane has announced that The Academy is planning to extend the paying
bus service for another year if it can be approved by the
Governors. The service is so popular that extra buses are required
and unfortunately it is likely that the fares will need to increase to
match the costs.
Travel Plan that was approved by Norfolk County Council in January 2012
students living within a 3 mile radius of the school are encouraged to
walk or cycle..."
is despite there being no suitable cycle/walking path between the two
campuses. This is being born out by the fact that most parents
would rather pay for their child to arrive at school safely.
other news; it seems that whilst the Principals' mantra "Every day
that a student spends away from school has a disruptive effect upon their
education" may be true, pupils have been told to stay away from
school for an extra day following the Summer half-term break whilst
teachers move equipment and stationery into the new building.
been two weeks since Thetford Academy failed its latest Ofsted inspection
and was placed into special measures, yet if you read the Eastern Daily
Press, you would be oblivious of this fact.
the "worst" news that the EDP has reported online about the
Academy in the last year has been the cancellation of its sports day due
to the poor weather! Perhaps the EDP does not regard the
catastrophic academic failure of Thetford Academy and its abysmal
teaching record as a story worth reporting.
the only up-to-date, independent, local source of information about the
very next day, following the above comments, the EDP
has finally written an article (although not by reporter Rebecca
Gough) about the Academys failed Ofsted inspection. It begins
reported...". Is this a dig? If so, there is no
previous report listed on the EDP website.
The latest Ofsted report briefly mentions the
online facility where parents can register their concerns/opinions
regarding their childrens education.
At the time of writing, only 15 people had registered their
feelings through the Ofsted website. [See
Notably, whilst parents believe their children
feel happy and safe at Thetford Academy, pupil behaviour, school
management and its response to parental concerns are areas where the
Academy is failing.
Although it is only a relatively small sample,
60% of those who left a response would not recommend this school to
another parent. Unfortunately,
in Thetford, there is no other option.
Back to the Future
In an uncanny twist, the fortunes of Thetford
Academy continue to closely follow those of Furness Academy (Cumbria) as
reported in February 2011.
Academy was born out of 3 former high schools and is also due to move
into a new build in September 2013.
It also has a purple motif and forced through a merger that was
fiercely fought by parents.
Currently it has high exclusion rates, poor attendance and exam
results and a recent Ofsted inspection criticised its poor teaching. The Academy failed in its attempt
to block a damning Ofsted report and like
Thetford, it is currently being monitored by
It is interesting to see how similar
sentiments are from Cumbrian parents towards their Principal and
frightening to see where Thetford could end up in a years’
West Evening Mail]
nothing like going into special measures to finally get things done.
update to the Academy website this week, now lists a Mrs Kate King
as a Parent Governor. We wish Mrs King the best of luck and hope that
she will take time to both pass on concerns from parents to the Board and
also give parents independent feedback regarding how the Academy is
Academy had been without a Parent Governor since Mrs Trayton gave up her
seat in November 2011.
it appears that the correct procedure for filling the vacancy was not
53. Subject to Article 57, the Parent Governor
shall be elected by parents of registered pupils at the Academy. A Parent
Governor must be a parent of a pupil at the Academy at the time when he
55. The arrangements made for the election of a
Parent Governor shall provide for every person who is entitled to vote in
the election to have an opportunity to do so by post or, if he prefers,
by having his ballot paper returned to the Academy Trust by a registered
pupil at the Academy.
56. Where a vacancy for a Parent Governor is
required to be filled by election, the Governing Body shall take such
steps as are reasonably practical to secure that every person who is
known to them to be a parent of a registered pupil at the Academy is
informed of the vacancy and that it is required to be filled by election,
informed that he is entitled to stand as a candidate, and vote at the
election, and given an opportunity to do so.
57. The Parent Governor shall be appointed by the
Governing Body if no parent stands for election.
as we are aware, no vacancy was made public and certainly no election was
Lights, Camera, Action!
The local media has shone its spotlight on
Thetford this week in light of the Academy failing its Ofsted inspection
– despite previous warnings. [BBC News]
Today, I was asked to share my views on BBC
Radio Norfolk, as a parent of two children who attend the failing
school. One has a 40 minute
walk each way to the Sixth form situated at the former Charles Burrell
site, whilst the other spends much of the day being transferred between
campuses to be taught core and choice subjects – and where a lesson
at the South ends the day, having to walk the 2 miles home.
Over the last two years, political shenanigans
have over-shadowed the curriculum, with some students unsure which campus
they would be spending their next term or indeed who they would be taught
by. This has obviously upset
some students as exam results indicate.
Promises of a single site Academy do not paper
over the cracks. Promises
were also made that there would be “two academies overseen by one
governing body, along with a new Forum”. Children from the South of
Thetford will still have to make their way across town from
The Thetford &
Brandon Times yesterday headlined:
calls for local support after report”
THIS IS RICH! Principal Spillane and her
entourage, following on from an edict laid down by her predecessor
Christine Carey, refuses to meet parents to discuss the Academy. A previous snub was to an
invitation to address the Croxton Road Community
Association, to discuss the planning application for the new build.
The Academy was asked to present its case on
Radio Norfolk today, but instead issued a statement. If
the school does not even appoint a parent governor, how can it expect any
support from the community! [Update - see
Eastern Daily Press has yet to write any article on-line regarding the
Academy going into special measures. EDP reporter Miss Gough, the
Academy's normal channel for
propaganda putting forward its point
of view, has been extremely busy writing about a Police Woman who tripped
over a kerb.
highlights once again, why Thetford needs two high schools. As Elizabeth Truss MP said in November 2011, "...so
if parents are not happy with the quality of education, they need another
school locally, that their children can go to, so those children
have another chance". The blame for this lies squarely
with the Moving Thetford Forward Learning Group and
the subsequent rush for money which blinkered the Governors of Charles
Burrell and Rosemary Musker High Schools.
Whilst Miss Spillane maintains that there has
been “an improvement in exam success”, it has come to light,
that some students in the top grades, have been sitting “foundation
linear mathematics” exams in addition to their modular exams, in
the ruse that this will show up as an improvement in the number of
students achieving grades C or better.
Academy fails its Ofsted inspection
recent Ofsted inspection of Thetford Academy has found that the
performance of the Teachers and Staff at the Academy is so low that the
school has been placed into Special Measures register. In summary:
of Pupils - Inadequate
of Teaching - Inadequate
and Safety of Pupils - Inadequate
and Management - Inadequate"
Full Ofsted Report
What is "special measures"?
wasn't a Teacher questionnaire issued? Illiteracy? Fear of
losing their jobs? We need to get to the bottom of why teaching
levels are so poor at the academy.
response, Principal Spillane has deflected some of the blame onto poor
student attitudes and the lack of support from the community. The
Lead Inspector says that "everyone in Thetford needs to support this
Mitcheson needs to speak to some of the parents and carers and find out
why this Academy does not have the full backing of the community.
Thetford Academy Ofsted
list of those responsible for turning two adequate schools into one
fiasco can be found here.
it's time to re-read these:
For: Academies - Everything you
need to know (Dept for Children, Schools and Families))
would a school want to become an Academy? (Anti-Academy Alliance)
fish in a barrel
becoming tedious and all too easy to criticise the Academy and its
Thetford Academy have today been bracing themselves for a critical Ofted
report which is due to be officially published soon. Whilst we wait
to see the full report, pupils at the Academy have been given oral
snippets from a draught report which does not bode well for
Administrators at the all-new Academy.
barely scraping through last years' Ofsted inspection, Miss Spillane and
her team took this as an endorsement of its management strategy.
However, it looks as though the changes and improvements to teaching
practices requested in last years' report have so far not been carried
Academy still has some way to go to achieve its aim of "...being
an inspiration to other towns and cities in England, the UK and around
is due to be made by the Academy shortly. The full Ofsted report
on the premise that "a moving target is harder to hit",
Thetford Academy has appointed another Director to the Board of the
Thetford Learning Trust.
welcome Michael Green to the hot seat or is he just hot desking?
according to the Academy's' website there is still no parent on the Board
it's Ofsted season again and it's all hands to the pump! Study leave
for 6th form students has been cancelled in a vain attempt to make
officials think that there are more pupils in school than the poor
attendance records show.
the teachers have been encouraged to endure the treacherous weather
conditions and to make sure that they get to school at all costs.
An example to us all...!
17-01-13: The music has stopped again in the game of musical
chairs! This time Deborah Humphrey has stepped down from her role
as co-Director of The Thetford Learning Trust.
doesn't get any better...
been announced by the Academy that the recently appointed Head of Sixth
Form, Miss Letcher, will be leaving her post and a new Head will begin in
the new year. This means that the new starter will be the third
person to fill this vacancy in a little over a year.
sixth form students are reportedly able to attend a complete days
education at the Academy's South campus without being supervised by a
single teacher. Today, one sick teacher was not covered for, whilst
another had more pressing engagements to attend to than to actually teach
the first priorities for the incoming Head will be to increase the poor
attendance record. Sixth form students were today urged to improve
on the 76% turn-out currently being achieved.
However, given the fact that no-one seems to want to run the
6th Form and no teachers can be bothered to teach, then what incentive is
there for students to actually turn up?
ironic that today's Thetford Academy website "Thought for the
In order to receive the best education students need
to attend every day
tomorrow it should be:
order to give the best education, teachers and heads of staff should
attend every day!
much hyped "bike scheme" aimed at providing reduced cost
bicycles (a whopping 10% discount) to those children who are soon going
to have to commute up to 3 miles to their new school was announced in the
press last week.
what the Academy fails to grasp is that there is NO SAFE ROUTE for these children to ride
their shiny new bicycles from South Thetford to the new Academy in the
North. (As outlined in the Norfolk County Council approved Travel Plan).
the scheme is promoted by MP Elizabeth Truss, who whilst stating that
parents needed alternative local education, is
also in favour of closing the former Charles Burrell site and moving all
of Thetfords children onto one site. [Incidentally, she also voted
to sell-off Thetford Forest, then joined a campaign to save it!]
wonder if the Co-Op Funeral Services would also be willing to do a 10%
child discount next year or even BOGOF!!!
now several weeks into the new academic year and due to poor
administration some pupils at the South campus are still awaiting
text-books necessary for their lessons.
having over £18m in the bank, Thetford Academy has left the
ordering and purchasing of essential equipment until the last minute,
meaning that parents have had to buy text-books themselves in order to
ensure that their child receives a proper education.
to the administrators at Thetford Academy: September comes after
August every year!
Rats and sinking ships
It has been announced by The Thetford Learning
Trust that Sarah Mitchell has terminated her role as a Director of the
Trust. No reason has been
Ms Mitchell was appointed as a Director in
continual game of musical chairs, she has also relinquished her seat on
the Board of Governors.
Meanwhile, the Academy has still not found
anyone willing to take up the post of Parent Governor since it was
vacated in November 2011. It
therefore continues to contradict its own Articles of Association.
penny finally drops at the Academy
taken over a year, but the realisation that pupils will have to commute
up to 3 miles to school from September next year has finally hit home for
the administrators of the new Thetford Academy.
week saw a report in the
Thetford and Brandon Times that demonstrated that Principal Spillane is
concerned that pupils will not be able to reach the new Academy safely
and on time. [I pointed out that the first suggested bus service
to leave Thetford Bus Station is at 9.05am, some time
ago - It's not Rocket Science!]
months after the Academy's Travel Plan was drawn up and presented to
Norfolk County Council as part of their approved application to extend
the North Campus, Cathy Spillane is desperately trying to negotiate deals
with local bus companies to provide a subsidised bus service for pupils
living the furthest from the Croxton Road site. What ever happened
to the official line "3 miles is within the National guidelines
for pupils to travel without assistance"?
trying to cover her tracks by suggesting that subsidies would be linked
to an improvement in attendance, not that children faced being killed or
injured because of her insatiable appetite for academic power. Miss
Spillane is even considering "providing bikes for pupils",
although it is not the lack of bicycles that is the problem, but the lack
of a safe route from the South of Thetford!
This map shows just how disjointed the existing
cycle network is in Thetford.
current Travel Plan was submitted by the Thetford Trust to the Norfolk CC
planning office in November 2011 and was approved by Planning Officer
Paul Rudkin in January. It was also endorsed only last month by
Matt Tracey of Norfolk CC Highways Department at a meeting of the Croxton
Road Community Association.
"By their recent actions Thetford Academy and Norfolk
County Council have demonstrated that the current Travel Plan is
manslaughter is a real possibility.
final year students are on "free leave" where their timetable
dictates that a lesson should take place for a subject in which they have
already taken the exam. Meaning that if an exam has been sat, then
they may go home instead of attending the "no longer required
other secondary schools, pupils are sent home for the entire exam period,
but Thetford Academy has the farcical situation whereby pupils are
expected to travel back and forth to school once or twice a day
(potentially travelling many miles a day from next September) or even
being made to attend registration if no lessons are required for that
Croxton Road Meeting
14th May, a full house of local residents and local councillors attended
a meeting at the Church of the Nazarene on Croxton Road, Thetford.
by their absence were any representatives from Thetford Academy.
Both Principal Spillane and Lead Sponsor David Lawrence cancelled their
planned attendance at the last minute stating that they would only meet
"small groups of parents".
Christian fed to the Lions was Matt Tracey from Norfolk County Council
Tracey argued that a Travel Plan
was in place and that everything was tickety-boo.
again, NCC could see no reason why pupils should not use public transport
to get to the new academy. (By catching a bus or walking to the Bus
Station - wherever that may be in the next few years - and then
catching the 9.05 bus to Croxton Road).
also emphasised that walking 3 miles to school each day was "within
the National standard". (That's 6 miles in total for each
child and 12 miles for each parent). He did not say how many of the
teachers who currently live within 3 miles of the new Academy will be
walking to school. Why waste a brand new staff car park?
a rather "like it or lump it" presentation, Mr Tracey also
castigated those present for "failing to implement a cycle-lane
along Croxton Road when they had the chance".
he was really trying to say was: "If any child gets hurt,
it's YOUR fault".
there may have been reasons why this was not voted for at the time
(insufficient road width, more pressing needs for funding), when the
matter was first proposed there was not going to be a 2000 student high
school at the end of the road!!!
Ashes to ashes
photograph that could be mistaken for Thetford Academy's new
"grave-digging" course (to run alongside the hair dressing
scholarships), pupils were invited to break the earth to mark the start
of the extension to the north campus.
Old habits die hard
The Lead Sponsor and Academy
Principal have pulled out of a meeting designed to allay community fears
over school safety at the last minute.
Both David Lawrence and Cathy Spillane have
decided against attending tonights meeting of the Croxton Road Community
Association where parents were invited to view plans of the new Academy
buildings and put questions directly to the two people responsible for
creating a single site high school for Thetford on Croxton Road. Mr Lawrence is the newly appointed
Lead Sponsor of the project and Miss Spillane is the current
Principal. Both are on the
Board of Governors and Directors of The Thetford Trust, the legal body
behind the Academy.
No reason has so far been given for the late
withdrawal. However, the
Academy has a history of steering clear of confrontation. Former Principal Christine Carey
threatened to walk away from a raucous meeting in 2010 and the current
leadership has continued to hold meetings with pro-academy parents behind
closed doors, whilst issuing glowing press statements to partisan
The academy management was criticised in an
external review in December 2010 for failing to interact with parents and
not demonstrating a clear educational vision. It appears that even in 2012 some
lessons have still not been learnt!
Croxton Road Community Association will be holding an Open Meeting on
Monday 14th May where it is anticipated that David Lawrence and Cathy
Spillane will attend.
Agenda includes discussions and plans for the new Academy buildings, a
chance to hear how the Highway Department is going to deal with increased
traffic on Croxton Road and how the extension will impact future housing
and the current environment.
meeting will be held at the Church of the Nazarene. By 7.15pm for a
prompt 7.30pm start. All are welcome - not just those living in the
Croxton Road area. This concerns you!!!
large mixed comprehensive in Thetford (wherever that could be) is
currently advertising again for new teaching staff...
Application - Background
a Freedom of Information request to Norfolk County Council, I have
received consultation documentation submitted to the Norfolk County
Council Planning and Transportation Department prior to the decision to
allow the go ahead of the extension of the North Campus.
concerns and comments regarding the proposed development include emails
and statements from local, town and county councils and the highways
not one body had the balls to make an objection to the scheme and the
highways department continued to put it's head in the sand and suggested
that "most pupils would be within walking/cycling distance of the
new school and there are buses that run past the site if students wished
to use these".
fact, its strongest recommendation to the planning committee was to
ensure that the bicycle storage facilities were covered to protect the
bikes from the rain!
For the record, all of the town and county councillors for
Thetford East, Thetford Town Council, Breckland Council, Croxton Parish
Council and The Brecks despite one or two small comments gave their full
support for the proposed scheme.
would appear from the documentation received that my own objection to the
Travel Plan issued by the developers and the Thetford Trust was the only
one received by the NCC planning department.
own words, Mr Rudkin called my reasoned argument, "a
comprehensive critique of the Transport Section", however, he
incorrectly went on to suggest that I was perhaps the vice-chair of the
Croxton Road Residents Committee. The objection argument was so
strong that it lead to the highways department requesting more time to
consider their response.
this months revelation in the Ofsted report
that Wymondham College was replaced as lead sponsor of Thetford Academy
following a review due to poor management, the Wymondham College website
still claims that the college is the lead sponsor to the Academy nearly a
an email to the College, the website has now been updated.
last months inspection, the results of the Ofsted inspection has been
made public and confirms the issues raised by this website.
"The accelerated opening...was opposed by Parents, Carers and
"This was compounded by poor leadership and management within the
"A lack of consistent practice across the two sites"
"Poor quality teaching and learning in the absence of a clear
"Independent review resulted in a new Principal and Lead
"Several teachers left the Academy at the end of July 2011"
"Last years students results were below the Governments floor
"Poor attendance record"
the report states that things are improving since the management changes
have taken place, it states that the following practices were viewed to
"Teaching assistants being used as teachers rather than
"School workbooks routinely uncorrected"
the Ofsted reports states that the level of disabled and SEN students is
above average. Closing the South campus and moving the whole of
Thetfords secondary education onto one site is not going to address the
problem. A recent attempt to set-up an independent school to cater
for SEN students by several of the Academy's own staff has been blocked
by central Government.
Principal has been granted the use of a mentor to assist her to introduce
and develop improved data management and monitoring procedures. One
would have thought that a Principal commanding a salary in excess of
£100,000 would be able to do this on their own.
has stated that these issues should be addressed as soon as
all hope that they are! Watch this space!
[Read the full report here]
Academy received officials from the Office for Standards in Education
over two days last week, conducting an inspection of the schools
procedures and services.
Academy's red card system was temporarily changed for the inspection with
military precision. Usually, when a child has misbehaved, he/she is
issued a "red-card" and sent to another class to
"contemplate their actions" with a previously agreed
"teaching buddy". [see here]
during the inspection, children were sent to a holding area until the
coast was clear for them to be moved on.
there is a system in place that has been agreed, why should it be
changed? Are they trying to hide something?
have been released of two more people that were appointed Directors of
the Thetford Learning Trust in December 2011.
Foreman and Peter Rout. These Directors represent "the
Community" on the Board of Governors and are appointed by Norfolk
County Council. Ms Foreman (Retired) is also a Director of
"Alternative Provision Free School Thetford Limited", whilst Mr
Rout (a Farmer) also sits on the Wymondham College and St Marys'
(Norwich) Boards of Directors.
there has still been no announcement regarding the appointment of a
single parent to the Board.
Accounts filed (and a mystery solved)
Annual Report & Financial Statement for the period 30th June 2010 to
31st August 2011 has been submitted to Companies House by the Thetford
immediately resolves one question. Mrs Jane Trayton resigned from
her post as Parent Governor in November 2011! No mention of this
from the Academy. No vacancy has been posted.
also confirms that the Academy is not acting within its own Articles of Association.
Academy states that by 2020 it has a vision of "...being an
inspiration to other towns and cities in England, the UK and around the
results for 2010/11 were poor. Below the 35% target, 28% of
students achieved 4 GCSE grades of A*-C. Surprisingly, the Trust is
aiming for 45% of its students to achieve 5 GCSE grades of A*-C including
Maths and English in 2011/12!
Academy has reserves of £883k as of August 2011.
of the Campuses (Croxton Road and Staniforth Road) are leased from
Norfolk County Council at a "peppercorn rate".
and inevitably, Norfolk County Councils planning department has agreed to
allow Thetford Academy move all of its pupils and teachers onto the
existing North Campus, which will be expanded at great cost in terms of
money, disruption and inconvenience.
County Council, which no longer has any controlling say in the way the
independently controlled school is run, has simply agreed to pass on the
funds allocated by central Government to the Academy as part of its
Academy status change.
plans have so far been announced as to what the Academy plans to do with
the former South campus.
new Academy will be opened in September 2013, when all of Thetfords 700
senior school pupils will be forced to commute to the only High School
for miles around.
Thetford Forward and Breckland District Council also announced plans
last year to allow the building of new houses for up to 5,000 people to
the North of Thetford. Although no new schools have been planned.
the record, there has been no dissent from any politician, councillor or
administrator regarding these extension plans.
pieces of silver
following people have been appointed Directors of the Thetford Learning
Spillane, Christine Oakes, Deborah Humphrey, Michael Gibbens, Sarah
Mitchell, Marion Chapman-Allen and William Bond.
this be a clever scheme to spread some of the blame in the future when
the Academy fails or is it as a reward for bluffing the parents of
Thetford into accepting major changes that will effect the lives of
Thetfords children for years to come?
Directors are responsible for the overall running of the Academy, do not
have to listen to anyone, have only a limited liability (£10)
should it all go pear-shaped and can walk away at will at any time.
official list of Governors has changed (again).
only have teachers and councillors without any formal business
qualifications been promoted to Directors of an Academy of over 700
pupils, the one and only Parent sitting on the Board of Governors has
apparently made the position vacant.
stated earlier, the Articles of Association state that there "must
be at least one parent sitting on the Board". [See here]
again, the Academy plays by its own rules...
It seems that there are TWO Governors lists. One here
the former does not include Mrs Trayton (the long standing Parents
representative), we shall assume that this has been updated and is
way, the smoke-screen of confusion seems to be an Academy trademark.
consultation period ends
time period for individuals, agencies and government bodies to make their
representations to the Norfolk CC planning committee regarding the
proposed new Academy extension has now passed.
NCC website shows that Breckland County Council has so far not felt the
need to submit a response to the plans, whilst the Highways Department
managed to submit their consultation response three days late!
website has made a formal objection to the plans.
Academy Teachers "attack" Parents and Pupils
unprovoked attack, a number of teachers and training staff have decided
to vent their anger towards their employers against the parents and
pupils of Thetford Academy, by refusing to fulfill their employment obligations
next Wednesday. As a result, the school will be closed to pupils
for the day.
their reasons, this is like two people fighting whilst one of them is
kicking the dog hoping that the other will back down.
is no moral justification for strikes that effect third parties.
letter to parents and carers from the Academy Principal neatly fails to
mention any teaching unions and puts the onus of the resolution of this
dispute on Central Government.
The NASUWT claims 81% of its
members have voted in favour of strike action and that 91% have voted
for action short of strike action. It doesn't take three
Canadian mathematicians to work out that this is an impossibility.
have said before, the NASUWT is a Union that doesn't
know it's left from right and also struggles with English...
the Government will recoup the financial loss to the UK economy by
withdrawing the increased offer made to Public Sector workers and
continue to reduce the offer until it is accepted.
we be seeing you on the front gate Caroline?
Academy Planning Application
above planning application has now been made to Norfolk County Council.
consultation period will end on 8th December 2011.
may be made on the NCC website.
proposal is as follows:
of three existing school buildings, erection of new school building including
new four-court sports hall, Ancillary buildings, Outdoor grass playing
pitches, A three- court multi use games area (MUGA), Associated car
parking and cycle parking, strategic landscape works and highway
full list of documents can be downloaded from here
above transport report is USELESS!!!
exciting the new build is, no provision has been made to ensure the safe
passage of over 700 students from the former Charles Burrell High in the
South of Thetford to reach the new Academy in the North.
reports contents are outlined below:
Regional & Local Transport Policy
the need to travel in the first place. This will not be helped
by closing CBHS.
single occupancy vehicles. Unless children are driving
themselves to school, this is not a problem!!
Thetfords bus system is used primarily by OAPs collecting their pension,
not as an integrated system of moving around the town either to work or
school. An hourly bus service, either leaving the bus station after
9am or a single bus service leaving Croxton Road after 4pm is NOT
provision has been made in any report that would allow for a school bus
system (either free or fare paying) to be created. The bus loop is
for mini-buses and coaches only.
The report highlights that there is no safe pedestrian access from the
South of Thetford to the North. Cyclist are forced to cross and use
major A roads and roundabouts.
no children cycle to the South Campus. This is likely to change
significantly with new cyclists being exposed to major roads.
Following an analysis of changes to staff travel plans and an unqualified
statement from Norfolk County Council Developer Services, the report
believes that no alterations are required to the existing highways.
Road is already congested at peak times and Nuns Bridges is not designed
to accommodate large volumes of traffic. Both will become worse
when 700 children are driven to school each morning.
the new layout includes plenty of segregated staff parking.
I don't know why this was even mentioned - unless the majority of the
new Academy students are likely to be commuting from Cambridge...
report concludes by repeating its contents and suggesting that
"since just 48 extra vehicular journeys will be made, no
improvements to the highways are necessary". This is staff
movements - not 2050 students being transported by their parents!!!
Academy hosts Politics Roadshow
November an edition of the BBC Politics Show was aired which discussed
the growth of Free Schools and Academies.
Click here to watch (40Mb)
are some interesting quotes:
report begins with a convenient statement:
01:03 Thetford Academy has grown out
of two failing schools" - Chris Bond, BBC
so. Rosemary Musker was not a failing school. In 2010, the
Government defined a failing school as one with GCSE pass rates below 35%
at grades A* to C. But it is easier to lump both of Thetfords
previous schools together and claim that becoming an Academy will solve
what about those at the Academy:
want the town to be proud of us" - Cathy Spillane, Principal
very proud because it's exciting because Thetford's Moving Forward"
I heard that catchphrase before?
Are they brainwashing these children?
to the report:
"Competition in every realm of life is the thing that drives,
increases standards" - Michael Gove, MP & Education Minister
Academy has created a monopoly of higher education in Thetford and
removed any competition to itself.
Gove, then goes onto explain that Parents who are not happy with their
Childs school should:
Contact the Head Teacher
Withdraw their child from the school
parents are not happy with the quality of education, they need another
school available locally that their children can go to, so those children
have another chance" - Elizabeth Truss, MP
Thetford Academy is proposing to close the only alternative high school
in Thetford (Charles Burrell) and remove any choice for parents and
County Council cannot decide whether it is leading or being led.
Thomas (NCC) claims to be working with Thetford Academy as co-sponsor and
even suggests that concerned parents can contact her, as NCC is still
responsible for Norfolks children.
whilst NCC takes any credit when the going is "good", its
standard response during this years fiasco at the Academy has been "...Thetford
Academy is an independent state-funded school and is therefore outside of
the control of Norfolk County Council." Priceless.
congratulations to Jeremy Rowe, the Headteacher of Sir John Leman High
School, in Suffolk, for speaking up for parents rights and the fallacy of
thinking that Academies are the panacea of the education system.
organise a party in an ale house
Friday, several parents were sent letters helpfully informing them that their
children were about to sit an important examination counting towards
their final grades.
exam in question was for Mathematics.
the letter stated that their child should attend the SOUTH campus
promptly at 8:50am on Monday morning.
the letter dropped on doormats on a Friday, there was no chance to
contact the Academy to question the location.
most of the children affected, chose to follow their natural instincts
and disregard the advice from the Academy and arrived at the NORTH
campus where the examination was taking place.
the exam had to be delayed because several children turned up at the
wrong campus and had to be transported across town immediately before an
This matter would be laughable if it were not so serious...
appears that Thetford Academy cannot organise a simple administrative
exercise. How it ever expects to be able to manage over 2000
students on one site is anyone's guess.
Academy Principal Miss Spillane has written a letter of apology to those
parents affected by this weeks mis-directed maths examination.
letters can be seen here
of winning bid announced
Construction, part of the Balfour Beatty group has beaten Wates Construction
to win the chance to put forward its planning application to build the
new extension to the current Academy North site.
clever move, Mansell's bid to carry out the work was a little under the
£18.2m that the Academy had been given by Central Government! That
final choice of contractor was made by Norfolk County Council who hold
the purse strings, although they have no say in the day-to-day running of
the Academy and who, coincidentally, will also judge the forthcoming
those parents unable to attend the recent open day, the Balfour Beatty
designs can be seen here and here.
The proposal has already determined the
date that planning consent will be granted!
combined Academy will have spaces for over 2000 pupils. No
alternative in Thetford for excluded or bullied pupils or children of
parents unable to get across town.
sum total of its traffic management system is a one-way system around its
232 space car park.
are no additional bus stops.
local BBC Politics Show will be showing a programme debating the Academy system
on Sunday November 6th.
Academy buys support for new school
were unveiled by the Academy last week on how it was going to spend its
allotted £18.2m of Government grant on a such items as a power
station, new football pitches and a car park. (See
short of putting gold taps in the toilets, it was a
"no-holds-barred" display of extravagance. Anyone
displaying any descent would surely be seen as a killjoy.
asked about increased traffic caused by the merger of the two sites, one
official stated that they "would try to persuade parents not to
bring their children to school by car". So the 232 car park
spaces are for teachers only?
official Academy website does not yet provide any details for parents
unable to attend the meeting.
article in the Thetford & Brandon Times invited email
responses. [Here's one]
transpires that everyone in Thetford is happy with the idea, then this
will be the last update to the website.
for the post of Vice Principal closed earlier this month with the final
shortlist being interviewed last week.
candidate was so interested in finding out about their prospective
employer that they decided to contact this website for advice! I
sincerely hope that that person has been chosen as the new Vice
Principal, since they have demonstrated "Initiative, Courage and a
Willingness to bridge community discord".
have also been contacted by the visual media. Details to follow...
School Timetable Announced
have been confirmed regarding the proposed timetable of events that will
include the design, planning and construction of the new school extension
planned for the North campus.
The winning design and contractor will be chosen from two proposals by
the end of this week.
final choice will be made by a panel consisting of representatives from
Norfolk County Council (the Determining Planning Authority), NPS (a firm of Property Management
Consultants), Thetford Academy and its Sponsors.
A day has been arranged for Parents to view the winning bid at the Thetford
Keystone Innovation Centre, next Tuesday 18th October, between 9am
The formal planning application will be made to Norfolk County Council in
application will be heard by a Norfolk County Council Planning
Committee. Breckland Council will only have a limited consultation
The planning application process is expected to take up to 13 weeks being
finalised by February 2012.
If successful, construction of the new extension will begin in March to
be completed in time for the new school year in September 2013.
No plans have been made regarding the
future of the current Charles Burrell site.
application will be controlled by Norfolk County Council, since they hold
the £18m transferred from Central Government. NCC has
previously stated that "...Thetford Academy is an independent state
funded school and is not maintained by NCC."
the application will be discussed by an out-of-town Government
department, not involved in the political shenanigans and goings on at
the Academy and not responsible for the future running of the single site
planning permission for Academy extension
Thetford Academy Principal Cathy Spillane states in her new academic
"blog" that two construction companies are in the tender
stages for building the proposed academy extension at the North campus.
Spillane proposes to hold a "parents focus meeting" at each of
the two campuses this week.
However, there has so far been no formal planning application
to Breckland Council for any building work to take place at the former
Rosemary Musker site, let alone any permission by the Council!! As
such, this is academic!
website will actively oppose any application to extend the site.
Watch this space...
Annual Return submitted
Thetford Learning Trust has submitted its Annual Return late on the 7th
August, listing the 3 main Company Directors on 4 pages:
Lawrence (Profession: Principal of Easton College)
Roffe (Profession: Principal of Wymondham College) and
Elizabeth Ann Williams (Profession: None).
Williams has been an academic at West Suffolk College for over 30
years. It's not rocket science to just fill a box with the word
"Principal". How did these people ever get to run our
late, but wrong. 3/10 Must try
Annual Returns Overdue
held at Companies House show that the Thetford Learning Trust's Annual
Company Return is overdue as of
does not set a very good example to children when they are being told
that their homework must be in on time!
following documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act:
Agreement is not yet listed on the Department for Education website
date, the Academy does not comply with Section 46(d) of the Articles of
Association (p19), stating that there should be two staff
more and more staff leaving the Academy, these positions could remain
empty for some time...
following documents set-out how the Academy should deal with admissions,
special needs and exclusions:
Incidents of Behaviour
play by the rules, one has to know what the rules are..."
Do not dwell in the past, do not
dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
Thetford Academy website re-opens
an immediate scoop on its pages, the official Thetford Academy website is
turns out that Fridays Eastern Daily Press report below
is an exact copy of the statement
put out by the Academy. I am surprised by this rather slapdash
reporting from the EDP.
the website remains mostly unchanged.
the Academy can now tell us how many other candidates were fought off in
this obstreperous, rambunctious and tumultuous battle.
Principal becomes the new Principal at Thetford Academy
Spillane has been given the challenge of becoming the new Principal at
Acting Principal of the Academy was previously Assistant Head Teacher at
the former Charles Burrell High School. We should hope that the new
Academy does better than when she was "in charge"
at that school. Norfolk
High School League Tables 2009
Eastern Daily Press reports:
school, whish [sic] is spread accorss [sic] two sites in the town, is set
to move to one site on the North Campus, in Croxton Road, in September
many spelling mistakes can you get into one sentence?
Spillanes own newsletter, issued at
the end of last month whilst still Acting Principal, made the following
June 2001". No it isn't.
North site as we now know that is where the the new building for the
Academy will be". The Academy has not yet made any formal
planning application to Breckland Council to build on land adjacent to
the former Rosemary Musker school and any application is still subject to
public objections and planning approval.
new sponsors (are) looking for a new Principal...the students will be
involved in that process". Obviously not.
we have been updating our website and it will go live again next
week" Nothing yet...
website coming soon
Academy's web-host has closed all access to the Academy's website,
apparently in readiness for the Grand Opening as announced by
Acting Principal Spillane last week.
hope it's worth it.
meantime, some of the links below to the Academy's website will be
unavailable. However, a copy of the "community" page can
be viewed here.
is a copy of the latest newsletter in full.
Principal Spillane still thinks it's 2001... (God help our
Academy won't let the parents have any say in how their own children's
school is run, but is willing to let the pupils have their say on the new
finally been able to ascertain the legal make-up of the Board of
Governors. Despite not being able to get a response from the
Thetford Trust and receiving an inaccurate email from the Local
Authority, I have obtained a copy of the Funding Agreement and Articles
of Association signed by the Trust from the Young Persons Learning Agency
(YPLA) which finally settles the matter...
been informed by the YPLA that the Department for Education will shortly
be placing the Funding Agreement online. Watch this space.
the document confirms that there needs only to be ONE parent governor, it
also states that there should be TWO staff
governors! Currently, there are NO staff governors -
(Acting) Principals do not count.
See here for the current list.
All change at the top
Academy has formally announced changes to the Board of Governors via its website.
Roffe still retains his place on the Board as a Director of the Thetford
Learning Trust, but is replaced as Chairman by the principal of Easton
college near Norwich. This will leave more time to manage his own
state boarding school.
Academy is now run by David Lawrence, principal of a Land based
college. This will prove useful if the Academy ever decides that
students can study A-level Equine Studies or Horticulture.
College steps down as Lead Sponsor
newsletter from Thetford Academy, Acting Principal Cathy Spillane has
announced that Wymondham College will be stepping back as Lead Sponsor of
Thetford Academy in favour of Easton College. No reason has been
Principal Melvyn Roffe is the third person to decide to take a backseat
from leading the Academy in less than three months.
April, newly appointed Principal Christine announced her departure due to
month Dr Roger Harris to stepped down as a Staff Governor, citing work
Academy is an independent Trust run solely by its Governors. Will
there be any left?
Parents meet to discuss new school...
Principal Spillane has also announced that the Academy's website will be
online next week. However, it is available to view now by viewing
any page other than the home page:
page that may prove interesting is the Community Page:
a meeting was held on 9th June between parents and the community to discuss
the ongoing plans to merge the former Charles Burrell High School and
Rosemary Musker High School on the North Campus.
the meeting was only for South Campus parents, as a parent of two North
Campus children, I was unaware of any such meeting.
included pictures are perhaps shown as an illustration of the
meeting. However, they were taken several weeks beforehand.
Mayor, Derek Mortimer asked whether any further consultation would
in the display is a wish-list of things that
the teachers and pupils would like to see in the newly extended
school. My own suggestion would be a "new English
the items "wished for" by the children were "Bigger
Lunch Hall" and "Whater Slides".
Fr(ee) vending machines were changed
to Healthy ones!
what looks like teachers handwriting are requests for "More
Computers" and "Bigger Windows".
amongst the dislikes was the comment "that we are not alowed to use
the elivator" [sic].
reported that everyone who attended was in favour of the plans.
This can be achieved by only inviting those with a vested interest!!!
plans to extend the school have yet been submitted to Breckland
Council. Watch this space.
Academy unaffected by Teachers Strike
"Day of Action" by members of the NUT, due to take place on
Thursday, will not affect Thetford Academy as the school will be closed
for an "In-Service" day which was pre-planned some time ago.
planned concurrent protest demanding the removal of Mr Roffe from
leadership of the Academy will also not now take place due to
circumstances outlined above.
It will be interesting to see if the NUT members will continue to
demonstrate outside of an empty school or attend the Royal Norfolk
vote for strike action
Academy is set to be hit by a teachers strike at the end of this month.
of the NUT union are likely to walk out on June 30th in a dispute with
some teaching staff were putting pressure on Students not to protest
against planned changes to the Academy in January, it seems that it is
acceptable to disrupt pupils education when changes affect teachers
Blower of the NUT says, "It is disgraceful that the government is
pressing ahead with its reforms which will affect teachers' pensions".
when Thetford Academy made plans to close, merge and bus pupils across
town, this did not warrant any action by teachers either from the NUT or
teachers are calculating how much they will lose by increased pension
contributions and extended working years. What about the cost of
increased journey times and the effect of longer school days on our
children caused by the closure of Charles Burrell High School?
misquote Principal Careys interview during
the January student protest:
[teachers] to protest is fine. We live in a Democracy. But there comes a
point where they have to say, 'No, that's finished, now we must get on
with our [teaching]'".
be contacting Bill Boyce of the NASUWT (the second largest teaching
union) to ask what his members will be doing on June 30th.
No response from Mr Boyce. Was to be expected following their last non-response...
NASUWT is desperately seeking members, offering free membership. At
the recent "Alternative March" in London just 20 Norfolk
their website claims: "It is important...that parental opinion
is on the side of teachers if they do have to resort to industrial
share £340,000 windfall
announced this week that Norfolk County Council has found £475,000
buried down the back of the sofa and has suggested that three of
Norfolk's Academies could benefit from a share of £340,000 of this
Thomas says "We take our role as sponsors...extremely seriously
and it is fantastic that we are now in a position to look at providing
some financial support to boost the advice and guidance we already offer
remember the response from Norfolk County Council when asked to intervene
in the furore concerning the unilateral changes announced in January.
Newton (NCC Development Officer) replied to my email:
Academy opened in September 2009 [sic] as an
independent state-funded school, and is no longer a Norfolk County
Council maintained school. I am aware that there are some proposals to
change the internal organisation of year groups between the two sites,
but this is purely a matter for the Academy governors to determine in the
light of local discussions. You will therefore need to contact the school
direct for answers to your questions"
Lisa Christensen (Director of Childrens Services for Norfolk County
Council) was also reported as having nothing further to do with the
Academy despite being one of the original signatories in the Prospectus.
have since discovered that Miss Christensen is a Director of the Thetford
closure of the Building Schools for the Future Programme which paid for
the refurbishment of our schools until 2010 has been replaced by the
Academy programme. Whilst the Government boasts that hundreds of
schools are choosing to become Academies to become self-governing, the
truth is that if a school needs any money for renovations then the only
way that it can achieve this is to become an Academy.
choosing to distribute this underspend solely to Academies in Norfolk,
the County Council is unfairly penalising those other schools that have
not been swayed by empty promises of new Forums!.
are being pushed into becoming Academies or else suffer the consequences
of a funding shortfall.
we should also ask "How do you forget to spend
£475,000?". This is not extra investment.
This is money that should have been paid earlier!
to Academy Governors
Roger Harris has announced that he is stepping down from the Board of
Governors as a Staff representative.
"Who's Who" at Thetford Academy.
(Replaces “Rogues Gallery”).
we have recorded over two thousand "unique" hits to this
website since January. Thanks again for all of your interest and
Local Schools Network
fresh new website aims to celebrate local schools and offers a chance to
question the mantra "Academy School Good - State School Bad".
Against the abuse of Charitable status
a broad and balanced curriculum
transparency in Academies & Free Schools
as I say not as I do
College (Thetford Academy's lead sponsor) held its 60th Anniversary
Diamond Ball on Saturday.
any celebration, the school currently on the Charles Burrell site was 50 years
old earlier this year, but sadly it will not reach its 53rd birthday
because Wymondham College's Principal Melvyn Roffe has decided that it
should close and that all of its students must move to a school 3 miles
of the college were treated to locally produced fayre in the form of a
lavish five course dinner, whilst accompanied by a live band.
and students currently attending Charles Burrell High School will have a
longer working day travelling across town to an already tired High School
extended with a few new classrooms.
pupils have been led to believe that they could play a part in designing
the new school extension, although plans have already been drawn up, in a
similar manner to the competition to design the new Academy logo.
Vacancies at Thetford Academy
Today is the closing date for two
opportunities to work at Thetford Academy.
However, the job advertisement lists the
Academy as being in Bury St Edmunds.
Maybe they need a new Geography teacher!
The first is for a new Finance Officer. Someone needs to keep an eye on
Rather than using the money to build a new
Forum at the centre of town which would benefit the whole of Thetford and
the local community, the unelected Governors and self-appointed Directors
of the Learning Trust have decided to close a fully functioning school
and spend £18m on some new classrooms on the existing Rosemary
The advertisement states that the Finance
Officer must have “good
It also states that the Academy is increasing
staff numbers to reduce class sizes.
Unless the Academy plans to introduce “Financial Advice for
11-15 year olds” onto the curriculum, I do not see how this
information relates to the job as advertised.
will need...to like young people/young adults”. That’ll reduce the
The second vacancy is for a new Personal Assistant to the Vice Principal and Finance
Again, the job is listed as being in
Suffolk. Is there something
else that they are not telling us?
One potential applicant for this vacancy was
unable to reach the Academy via the email address quoted in the advert
and even emailed this website
for an application form. I
hope these candidates realise what they are letting themselves in for
before it’s too late...!
It’s worth pointing out that the
departure of Miss Carey (on £120,000 per year) has meant that the
Academy can now afford SIX new Finance Officers or EIGHT
Meanwhile there is still no advertisement for a second Parent
Governor as required by law!!
Thetford Mayor elected
to Derek Mortimer, the newly elected Mayor of Thetford.
Mortimer was supportive of our campaign against the unilateral decisions
made by the Thetford Academy and has been re-elected as Mayor for a
new Mayor plans to help in the regeneration of Thetfords town centre and
to keep a conscientious eye on the workings of the council.
luck and enjoy your year, Derek.
Results of Local Elections
are the results of last weeks Parish and District elections in Thetford:
Thetford Abbey Thetford Castle Thetford Guildhall Thetford Saxon
Thetford Abbey Thetford Castle Thetford Guildhall Thetford Saxon
"New Schools Network"
advisor has been appointed to deal with the application to create a new
High School on the site of the former Charles Burrell site which is due
to be closed by the Thetford Academy in September 2013.
next stage is to establish parental demand before applying to the
Secretary of State for a new "free school" to be established in
the south of town.
parents or teachers wishing to help in the creation of a new high school
should contact this website via the contacts page.
there is an application currently under review to create another free
school for non-mainstream pupils with learning/behavioural
difficulties. For further information, visit thetfordfreeschool.co.uk.
official Academy website is
still displaying its original "Coming soon" homepage. Is
it staying like this until September 2013? Most of the site pages
had been "under construction" since opening last year!
Perhaps this would be a suitable project for the IT class.
Update: It is still possible to read other pages
from the official website as only the Homepage has been changed.
moved up the Google rankings and is now 3rd highest (beaten only by the
official site and a reference to itself by the Anti-Academy Alliance)
when searching for "Thetford Academy" news.
news is good news
official Thetford Academy
website is down today. How long for is anyone's guess - they don't
like to tell anyone anything. At least the Academy still has it's
PR company: Mary Rudd (01362 821415).
'silly' season begins
months NUT conference voted unanimously to support the motion to
"encourage and support union members to take strike action, where
possible with other unions, against proposals to convert to academy
then that, to my knowledge, not one teacher at the former Rosemary Musker
and Charles Burrell High Schools offered to strike in protest at the
creation of Thetford Academy, yet the NUT has since passed a motion to
strike against working hours and potential changes to their
at last weeks NASUWT conference, members condemned the enactment of the
Academies Act, and gives a long list of reasons
why the creation of Academies and Free schools is not such a good idea.
one of the NASUWT's reasons against Academies and Free schools mentions
pupils at all.
the NASUWT's website, click here to see their "Academy Schools - NASUWT
much more than ensuring teachers pay and conditions are maintained and a
statement to the effect: "wouldn't it be nice if academies were
back under local authority control".
May, candidates will be standing for election as local councillors.
following pdf documents list the candidates for Thetford Town Council and
are able to do so, please use your vote as there won't be another chance
for several years.
candidates are standing as self-funding Independent candidates,
but are still members of the Labour Party. Don't be conned by the
wolves in sheep's clothing.
there will not be any elections regarding the make-up of Thetford
Academy's Learning Trust...
January 8th, when this website was set-up, it had the following aims:
Create a focus for parents to
voice their opposition to the scheme.
Lobby Councillors to oppose the
Immediately stop the plans to
split the Academy into two schools.
Remove Mrs Carey from the post
Elect a partisan parent either
onto the Board of Governors or Local Council.
more to go...
informing the Thetford Learning Trust and also the Young Peoples Learning
Agency of the fact that there is only one parent on the Board of
Governors where there should be at least two, (see The Academies Act 2010), the Academy
has still not made any public announcement of its intention to change the
have seen that local councillors are unable to influence the Academy
Governors, however, any local councillor knocking on your door in the
next few weeks seeking your vote on May 5th, should be asked whether they
support Thetford Academy's plans to close the former Charles Burrell High
Derek Mortimer will not be standing for re-election in May and we would
like to take this opportunity to wish him well and thank him again for
of term report: Could do better
again the Academy has lit the blue touch paper and gone into
hiding. Last weeks announcements regarding the future development
of the Academy and the resignation of Miss Carey were possibly designed
to give little time for any immediate feedback from the parents or
students before embarking on a two-week cooling down period.
press release from the Moving
Thetford Forward group was deliberately delayed until 1am Friday
ploy was also used in February when the announcement to create a single
Academy and inform parents of the timetable of changes was made just a day
before the half-term break.
Academy Principal retires
Carey has announced that she is stepping down as Principal of Thetford
Academy with immediate effect due to health reasons.
she was unable to personally sign the letter of retirement issued to the
parents, she was apparently not too ill to attend a Thetford Business
Breakfast meeting on Wednesday morning with an invited audience of local
businessmen and women.
is no mention of her departure on the official Academy website.
our differences of opinion, I do not wish Miss Carey any ill-will and
hope that she recovers from this illness. It is unfortunate that
she became the front-line puppet for a seemingly over-zealous group of
individuals eager to make their mark on Thetfords education system.
her job description
included references to plans that never came to fruition through no fault
of her own. eg The Forum. However, strong leadership should
not be confused with dictatorship.
Roffe, principal sponsor of the Academy, said she had made;
a positive impact in the past year".
Christine herself parted with:
have had tremendous support from everyone in this community".
Careys departure follows a long line of Administrators who have come and
gone in the last few years. Nancy Robinson, previously the
Executive Principal of Charles Burrell and Rosemary Musker, has now gone
on to become the Principal of the newly formed Ipswich Academy.
Notice any similarities?
Robinson, Redpath, Carey and Spillane... Perhaps it's time a Mr was
given the chance of becoming the next Associate Principal?
the report from the Bury Free Press
after two and a half years of trying to improve the education structure
in Thetford, numerous committee meetings, planning discussions, funding
reviews, public consultations and academic research, the considered
opinion of our learned administrators is:
one of Thetfords high schools and move everyone into the other one".
exactly what the founding fathers of the Moving Thetford Learning Group
had in mind in November 2008.
being criticised last week for not communicating
with parents, the latest announcement has so far not been posted on the
Academy's website, which is in fact still reporting that the Year merger
is to take place [here].
between the lines, Mondays letter contains some interesting points:
and governors exploring...options": The sponsors ARE the
governors. Don't be fooled that this is some sort of joint
decision. The Thetford Learning Trust
is run by the sponsors.
plans for combining years groups":
Little to be said. We all know how one sided the discussions were.
we had...a green-field site...we would have combined the year
statement is spurious, irrelevant and unnecessary. It can only have
been included as a side-swipe that Principal Carey is not actually
decision will gain maximum value": The same maximum value that was
placed on merging years as a student cohort. The same maximum value
that was placed on a new site at Shadwell...
will be able to take part in the feasibility stage": Provisional
architectural plans for the school extension have already been drawn
up. Transport plans are still to be decided, but it is the
Academy's responsibility to prove that a single site will work, not the
Thetford Academy announces U-turn in student cohort plans
Principal Carey has issued a letter to all parents stating that the
Academy's plans to move students between campuses this Summer is no
longer going to happen.
had been rumours that the move would begin in September and not June as
planned, following problems creating a workable school timetable.
However, today's announcement of a single site at the former Rosemary
Musker High School, means that plans to transport up to 400 pupils across
town each day have now been permanently shelved.
letter is reproduced here:
of future development for the Academy
the past few days we have received confirmation that the new academy
building will be located on north campus on Croxton road.
you will know this has followed many months of sponsors and governors
exploring the development options in and around the town.
the last few months we have also discussed plans for combining year
groups on either north or south campus according to student ages.
the confirmation of the north campus as the final academy development,
we have decided that all students will remain in their current school
sites until September 2013 when the new academy buildings open.
we had been moving to a green-field site in 2013 as originally planned,
we would have combined the year groups.
with this final decision on the north campus as the site for
development, it means the only combined year group will be the new year
7's, who will be joining us from primary schools in the town and
decision to develop on north campus will gain maximum value for the new
development from the £18.26m available for the academy and this
can mean maximum benefit for our young people.
the next few months students, staff and parents will be able to take
part in the feasibility stage of the overall project working together
with planners and designers.
information of this activity will be sent out next term.
all of the efforts of this website (emails, letters, lobbying, private
and public meetings), it had never expected that the plans to move pupils
between schools would be scuppered by an apparent lack of ability of the
Learning Trust to purchase a greenfield site, make safe travel
arrangements and organise a new student timetable!
this website celebrates this announcement, which is in complete contrast
to previous statements, it proves that there were hidden agendas relating
to the movement of pupils around Thetford. Suddenly "student
cohorts" are no longer a top priority. A "Student
Survey", originally announced as the reason behind the merger plans
has been shown to be no more than a working document.
this time our thoughts are with the parents and students of Charles
Burrell High School who have been let down by the Academy and Norfolk
the Academy has now effectively blocked plans for a new High School to be
created on the existing north campus, this still leaves the Charles
Burrell site free to be developed in the future as a free
site will continue to fight for the rights of ALL Thetford students
results of tender quotations to transport pupils between the two high
schools for two years have been announced. It would have cost the
Academy as much as £190,000 a year to bus pupils in both directions
was obviously NOT the maximum benefit option. But then, 'we told
the story as reported in the Thetford
and Brandon Times
must improve, say parents
Fitchett, a reporter for the Bury Free Press
newspaper has written his article about last weeks parents meeting, which
appeared in today's issue.
independent observer, Mr Fitchett reported that parents were concerned
that dialogue between the academy and parents was insufficient.
the November announcement, there has only been one newsletter informing
parents of the proposed changes, which many parents at the meeting said
that they had not seen.
Carey has responded by saying that "a statement on the school's
future would be released in the near future".
Friday 25th March, a public meeting was held at the Guildhall in Thetford
for any parents wishing to discuss the proposed changes to the Academy.
Organised privately, no members of the Academy were present.
However, a representative number of parents from both high schools took
time to discuss the recent events at both schools and to air their views
on the future of the academy.
in attendance was a reporter from the Bury Free Press.
addition to the public discussion, a secret ballot of views was obtained
by means of a questionnaire. The results are shown in the following
notable points were:
90% of those questioned were NOT in favour of
the schools merging by Year groups
60% were in favour of a single Academy,
although none were in favour of the Shadwell site
100% felt that the Learning Trust was NOT listening
to the views of the Parents
80% would be in favour of supporting a new
Government maintained High School
some expressed a preference for parental protests and government
intervention, the overwhelming consensus was for a further joint school
meeting with the Academy governors at a neutral site, such as the large
court at the Guildhall, within easy reach of parents from both campuses.
of communication between the Academy and the parents was raised as a main
issue for parental upset. Several parents from the Charles Burrell
High School had not even seen the February Newsletter from
the Academy and were still questioning whether this was going
ahead. Obviously, the Academy is not doing enough to ensure that
all parents are aware of the facts, either before or after the event.
When is a Charity not a Charity?
When it's an Academic Trust. The Thetford Learning Trust is a
Charity by name, although it does not have to register with the Charities
Commission since Academies were made exempt from being regulated by the
Commission on 1st January 2011.
Learning Trust is actually a Registered
Limited Company. Registered in June 2010, the Directors are
Melvyn Roffe, David Lawrence, Lisa Christensen (Director of Children's
Services at Norfolk County Council) and Dr Ann Williams.
Academy may no longer be maintained by Norfolk CC (see below), but their
Head of Children's Services is still a major player.
current legislation, one benefit of being a limited charity is that
should it all go pear shaped, the Directors are only liable to pay a
maximum of £10 each.
the Company document was drawn up by Vicki Hair, one of the finest
Academic Law lawyers from Browne Jacobsen.
private meeting was also held on Friday between myself and the Academy as
part of an ongoing formal complaint. I am currently awaiting
information requested. Details to follow.
visitor milestone reached
we have welcomed our 900th unique visitor to this site in just
over two months. Thank you to everyone.
much for Democracy
I have finally come to the conclusion that all legitimate avenues of
complaint or enquiry are either blocked or eventually lead back to the
newly unelected Academy governors. It took a while to discover this
and I can't say that I wasn't warned.
has no jurisdiction over the Academy. A dead end.
1 Thetfords Parents and Students 0. A bad start, but early days.
Christensen signed the original prospectus document on behalf of Norfolk
County Council as Director of Children's Services. A good place to start?
No. Lisa doesn't deal with Academies any more.
contacted Marion Forsyth (Communications Officer at Children's Services).
She was unable to answer my queries and passed the case onto Sue Platt, who
was also unable to deal with my complaint and back-healed it to her
senior colleague Tim Newton.
was a former member of the Moving Thetford Forward Learning Group, so
surely he would have something to say about his pet project.
of 19th January 2011 said otherwise:
you for your recent email about the Thetford Academy. The Academy opened
in September 2009 as an independent state-funded school, and is no longer
a Norfolk County Council maintained school. I am aware that there are
some proposals to change the internal organisation of year groups between
the two sites, but this is purely a matter for the Academy governors to
determine in the light of local discussions. You will therefore need to
contact the school direct for answers to your questions".
longer has any influence over the Academy and has even forgotten when it
days later, an email from Terence Bartlett from Norfolk County Council
role of the Local Authority is very limited in matters relating to
management issues within any school. The Academy opened in September 2009
as an independent state-funded school, and is not a school maintained by
Norfolk County Council. Consequently the County Council cannot become
directly involved in complaints about its actions and decisions".
of this email were either "cut & paste" from a standard
Norfolk County Council response or he also believes the academy opened in
quick one-two and it's two nil to the Academy.
for help was made to Elizabeth Truss MP. As she was also in contact
with other parents, a series of meetings was arranged to discuss parental
concerns about the actions of the academy. A head-to-head meeting
was arranged which included some other parents, Ms Truss, the academy
principal and several academy governors. The meeting was supposed
to be a two-way discussion, but ended up with the governors simply
telling the parents what they were going to do.
Office of the School Adjudicator resolves disputes regarding schools
reorganisation. However, their response was that this dispute was
out of their remit and that I should try the Department for Education,
which I tried. Apart from being given a case number, I was
re-directed to the Young Peoples Learning Agency and a nice lady called
Sangita Dhar who is actually the Academy Lead Officer for Thetford
the YPLA simply issues funds and monitors academies. She told me
that any formal complaints must be made directly to the Academy and she
will only intervene if the Academy fails to act correctly. The
Academy complaints procedure involves a meeting with a teacher, then if
this is not resolved by the Principal or Vice Principal and then if the
matter is still not resolved, the governors.
much for an independent complaint about the Academy.
and it's beginning to look like Man United against Bury Town after 10
minutes at Old Trafford.
meeting is our last chance to salvage any hope of reaching the Final.
Academy - Behind the scenes
of Information Act - Part II
is the story of the creation of Thetford Academy...
released under the Freedom of Information Act to this website this week illustrate
how a group of local administrators, education chiefs, school governors
and businessmen got together to plan a better future for Thetfords
it all went wrong when it was handed over to a group of unelected,
out-of-town administrators who had succeeded in their previous roles and
decided that they knew what was best for the town of Thetford.
"Moving Thetford Forward Learning Group" was created in
November 2008. A dozen people representing Thetford in numerous
capacities met to support the learning and training opportunities for the
future expanded population of Thetford of 2021. Here are some
extracts from the minutes of their meetings.
Robinson summed up the mood of the first meeting by stating that:
time has never been more right for everyone to get around the table and
change things forever and have a united approach".
the start, the group recognised the the underachievement of Thetfords
schools and a search was on to find a suitable location for a new
Forum. A press release was made in December 2008, whilst potential
sites were being investigated including industrial estates.
same time, the future of Charles Burrell was being discussed and the
catchment areas of both high schools were looked at.
February 2009, the first mention of an overseeing Trust was made.
Lawrence, one of the current Academy governors, said:
need all of this plan documented, structured and time bound so that at the
end of the process we can deliver exactly what we said we would deliver
and address the identified issues in Thetford".
nothing being proposed today is remotely like what was planned over the
next two years.
April 2009, plans were being drawn up to build a new Charles Burrell
School in a new location - with a more "balanced" catchment
area. But David Napier reported that:
the locals are becoming disillusioned with the number of times that
things have been discussed for Thetford, yet nothing seems to be moving
forward. We need to be seen to be making things happen".
funding continued to be an issue.
discussed at this time that an Academic Trust may be set-up to sponsor
one or two Academies in the town as well as to oversee the new
idea was repeated in June 2009, when today's sponsors were
appointed. However, it was originally thought that there would be two
academies as well as the Forum. The Rosemary Musker site would be
refurbished whilst the Charles Burrell school would need to be relocated.
months later and three designs had been produced for the Forum, funding
was still an issue and a replacement site for Charles Burrell had not
joint governing body meeting between the two schools took place in
September 2009. However, the perceptive Miss Robinson was concerned
lack of parent governors present".
also announced that both schools would no longer be top priorities
regarding government funding.
Expression of Interest could begin to be formed by the end of 2009
regarding the new single Academy on two sites and a new town centre
Forum. Work had also begun on looking into the possibility of
rebuilding Charles Burrell on its original site.
once again the voice of reason, suggested that:
need to consult with the students as a key player."
Roffe attended his first Learning Group meeting in January 2010 as
primary sponsor and stated that:
was not about takeover...they would not be telling Thetford how things
should be done..."
the estimate for the number of total pupils for the Academy had to be
revised from 1950 to 1650 as the original estimate included planned
housing developments that had not been given planning permission.
It was at this stage, that concerns were raised about the viability of a
three-site academy with this reduced capacity.
rest is history. Several weeks of consultation began, a poor survey
response was labelled as "not untypical of
consultations". Just two formal objections were made and these
were passed onto the Local Council Cabinet for the final vote.
all of these meetings, the "vision" has been for Thetford to
become a learning town with one learning trust, two high schools and a
third academic Forum. The original consultation prospectus is
consistent in its aims. No-one needed to object. No-one voted
against it, because they could see that there were no disadvantages in
their schools becoming an Academy.
read the original prospectus again:
Proposed Thetford Academy.pdf (12.5Mb)
about moving schools. Promises of a new Charles Burrell school and
a refurbished Rosemary Musker. Promises of a new Forum. No
'Plan B' regarding lack of funding although due diligence should have
foreseen that an impeding recession, a Governmental Spending Review and
the closure of the Building Schools for Future scheme would have an
impact on available funds.
now the Academy is formed, no-one from the local or county council, local
or national government or any of the educational watchdogs are either
willing or able to stop this Learning Trust from doing whatever it wants
- despite having no mandate to do so!
You are the only ones that can make a difference!
of Information data released
data and minutes of meetings of the Moving Thetford Forward Learning
Group have been issued by Norfolk County Council under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.
full results of the public consultation regarding the proposed Thetford
Academy in 2010 reveal some interesting points.
consultation took place between 10th February and 24th March 2010.
4500 consultation documents being issued, only 158* were returned.
these, just 88 supported the proposal whilst 68 did not
support the proposal (with 2 abstentions).
document also breaks down those that responded:
those that registered their views included 12 school governors. So
much for a "public" consultation. It should be quite
obvious from the post-Academy freedom given to Academy governors, which
way they would have voted.
total of 34 members of staff also voted in the consultation. Given
a certain Teachers' Union stance against Academies, it could be that the
majority of those voting against the Academy could have actually been
report also lists peoples responses as to why they voted in the way that
they did. These are generalised in the pdf document below.
The insignificant numbers in these results demonstrates just how
much respect the Academy sponsors should give to a petition of 590
names against the movement of children between campuses.
following document is the official report issued by the Director of
Children's' Services at Norfolk County Council following the above
consultation period and the directive to close Rosemary Musker High
School and Charles Burrell Humanities School before the creation of
report also includes other Norfolk Academies that have been blanked out
by myself as irrelevant, not through censorship.
of this report states that 164* people (6 more than above)
responded to the proposal (with 93 in favour). By page 13, a
total of 94 people are shown to have voted in favour of the new
Academy! Perhaps a re-count is called for!
main points of the document (highlighted) are that the consultation was
based on a single academic trust controlling two high
schools and the additional town centre Forum.
also states that the existing Rosemary Musker site would be updated,
whilst the Charles Burrell site would be re-built. This is what the parents of Thetford voted for in 2010.
the Director of Children's' Services recognised that there could problems
associated with travelling between sites, questioned how the combined
pupils would benefit and was concerned about the lack of parental choice.
the document states that:
three site academy is integral to the sponsors vision for the
"learning town" with the Forum site strategically located in
the town centre adjacent to Thetford Grammar School"
then, that suddenly a single site is now the best solution!
sponsors expect that the Academy will take into account the relative
nearness of each site to students' homes and the preference of families
when allocating students to one of the 'home' sites".
"Theti-leaks" to follow tomorrow...
Earth calling Thetford Academy
week saw the release of another memo from the Academy regarding pupil
safety. This time from the Vice Principal. There is no
first line reads:
safety of our students is always our concern"
sure this is true. But we are still waiting to hear what plans the
Academy has put in place to ensure that children wishing to walk or cycle
to their new Academy can do so safely.
have been contacted by the Thetford Safer Neighbourhood Teams about the
safety of students at the beginning and end of each school day when
parents drop off and collect students by car."
I wasn't even aware that there was such an organisation. They have
a Quango for everything these days! Who are these people? Who
are they paid by? Volunteers? Busy bodies?
the icing on the cake. The crux of the matter. The Statement
of the Year...
absolutely necessary students should walk to and from school".
This is from an Academy that is about to ask students to leave their
current school, just minutes from their homes, and move to a different
school over 2 miles away.
are the implications of moving children across town? Fewer children
will be able to walk to school and more will have to be bussed and driven
across by car!
is what the parents of Thetfords children have been saying all
along. It's called "Consequential Analysis". ie
I have been informed via the Forum, that the "Thetford Safer
Neighbourhood Team" is a euphemism for the Police. This
implies that the local constabulary have been informed by irate residents
that parents are parking across driveways.
get used to it. When (surely, "if" - Ed) the whole of
Charles Burrell's Years 7 & 8 begin commuting to Rosemary Musker and
the whole of Rosemary Musker's Years 9 & 10 commute to Charles
Burrell there will be an awful lot of extra cars, people carriers and
buses travelling to and from the campuses...
Academy's Learning Trust is "illegal"
Governing body of Thetford Academy is, to the best of my knowledge,
Academies Act 2010 states that:
must be at least two parent governors..."
official list of governors posted on the academy's
website states that only one governor is a parent.
formal request to the academy to list its current governors along with
their roles and dates of office has so far not been answered!
complaint has been made to the governors regarding their decision to
force pupils to move schools prior to their exams.
year 8's at Rosemary Musker will have to move to Charles Burrell
for two years before moving again to the new joint academy just
months before their final exams. Yet any moves for the current Year
10's were ruled out by the academy on the grounds that it would disrupt
cited was the legality of the Learning Trusts decision given its make up
a request of intervention to the Young Peoples Learning Agency is looking
doubtful as this organisation is no more than a government authority set
up to fund and support academies.
enquiries are continuing with a London based law firm regarding the
possibility of a Judicial Review.
A personal meeting between myself and "a member of staff" has
been arranged for the morning of Friday 25th March. Not with the
Governors with whom the complaint is against - so the charade will
continue. They will tell me why they think the move should go ahead
and I will tell them why it shouldn't. A complete waste of
time. But we are dealing with bureaucracy.
least the responses will be fresh in time for the Parents Meeting later
hires PR company
Academy apparently has so much money, it is now able to use a Public
Relations company and put out News Releases promoting
its new Academy building.
September this year all students in Years 7 and 8 will be coming together
on the North Campus and Year 9 and 10 will be working together at the
South Campus of the Academy"
the February Newsletter states that the
children will start commuting to school as early as the Summer
Term. This was confirmed by telephoning the school today.
Children will move in June.
is not a Public Relations company in the country that can repair the
damage done between the Academy and Thetfords parents by this unwelcome
act of disruption.
A parents meeting has been arranged for Friday 25th March
(5pm-7pm) at the Guildhall in Thetford. All parents wishing to
register their concerns are welcome.
comments page working!
apologies. Due to an unknown technical glitch, it appears that the
comments box on the previous page was not logging comments
correctly. Hopefully, this has been corrected and parents are now
able to post their thoughts about the latest newsletter online. It
is also possible to add your comments on the permanent forum page.
enough support is shown, then I shall endeavour for a second parents
meeting to be arranged to discuss the measures outlined by the Learning
Plea to the Parents of Thetford
my own enquiries to the local council in response to the outrageous
Newsletter issued last week to the Parents of Thetford, I have received a
response from the council allowing an extraordinary public meeting to be
held at the Guildhall Council Rooms in Thetford.
private meetings must be booked months in advance with a limited number
of council discretionary meetings for the benefit of the local
community. However, these usually have to be booked 3 months in
council meeting held last night, councillor Derek Mortimer was very kind
in supporting our proposal for a public meeting.
it is now up to the Parents of Thetford to show their support for this
kind offer and agree to meet to discuss the next steps to prevent the
movement of our children across town in both directions - prior to
another move in 2013.
haven't already done so, please register your support by commenting on
the temporary home page of this website or via one of the Facebook
parents are now resigned to the new Academy in 2013, but the vast
majority do not want their existing education arrangements to be changed without
If not enough support is given to the proposed meeting then it
shall be taken as a sign that the parents feel that they cannot change
what they do not control and this site will have to close.
a warm welcome to visitors of this site to fellow Academy sufferers in
Barrow-in-Furness! (That's in Cumbria folks).
are a year further down the Academy trail than Thetford Academy, although
they could almost be twins! A megalomaniac Principal on a non-productive
salary higher than some leaders of
Industry and working beyond the remit of her job
description; introducing a uniform more befitting The Blues Brothers
and showing a complete lack of imagination. Miss
Careys old & new school websites.
a case of deja-vu, but it might be worth seeing that you are not alone in
having your local education system completely ****** up by a bunch of
was right all along...
Academy looks to settle on a single site
Gough of the Eastern Daily Press confirms that promises of a third
Academy site have been reduced to two former High Schools moving onto one
joint school site - Which could even be on the site of existing buildings
described as "Old", "Small", "Cold" and
"Unwelcoming". However, the Governors have already
draughted architectural plans for a new build site near the Shadwell Stud.
Governor Melvyn Roffe wants to keep the "disruption of the move to a
minimum". Just bus children across town for two years
then. Nothing disruptive about that.
also blames the smaller than anticipated Government handout for the
decision not to build "The Forum". Would that be a lack
of due diligence, Mr Roffe?
further points out that not moving the current Year 10's will mean not
disrupting their exam year. I would like to point out that moving
the current Year 8's in the north of Thetford to the south for two years,
before moving them again to the new academy prior to their final
year involves two moves prior to their exams!!! What about
their disruptive education?
finally...Melvyn is concerned about the size of the new academy. I
give up - Taxi for Mr Roffe!
chips are down and the Academy shows its hand
weeks announcement by the Academy, confirming their secret plans to move
to a new location and putting forward diary dates as to when and where
Thetford children will be educated later this year has meant that all of
the cards held by the Academy have now been played. Whether the new
build is at Shadwell or a Rosemary Musker extension is merely a choice of
Spades or Clubs.
the parents committee still has a few picture cards up their
sleeves. A parents meeting to discuss the "proposals" is
still an option, at a neutral venue. Enquiries are progressing.
Freedom of Information request has been made to Norfolk County Council
for all emails, minutes of meetings and correspondence between the County
Council and the Local Council, former High Schools and Sponsors regarding
the setting-up of the Academy. This has been acknowledged and a
response is expected next month.
the Academy move to Shadwell, then the former Rosemary Musker High School
will be available on which to build a new High School. This will
benefit not only those disenfranchised with the Academy but also help in
the towns regeneration plans for 5,000 new homes in the north.
plans are also ongoing...
Teachers Union gets tough - against those fighting their cause
Norfolk branch of the NASUWT has written a formal letter of complaint to
the administrator of this website asking for certain comments regarding
the actions of a certain teacher to be withdrawn and an apology to be
letter points out that "clearly [the administrator] feels with the
creation of this website that an injustice has been done".
prejudice, I have removed the name of the teacher, and furthermore the
article, until a later date. I have not apologised, as the Union
representative has not yet offered any proof that the article was
letter goes on to point out that the NASUWT is a Professional
organisation which does an excellent job acting on behalf of its members.
quick look at their website: www.norfolknasuwt.co.uk
will lead you to their January Newsletter
which highlights the plight of any school becoming an academy in a
strongly worded attack on governors converting state schools into
governing bodies have seen through the false claims of 'additional'
NASUWT newsletter all but calls the Governors of Thetford Academy
highlights conversion as:
irreversible step that has profound adverse implications for children and
National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (the second
largest Teachers Union in the UK) has probably represented or still
represents the Principal of Thetford Academy and the Principals of the
sponsorship education establishments. Those responsible for this
mess in the first place!
asked to respond to questions put to them regarding their disparaging
facts about academies; what they had done in the past to prevent Thetford
Academy being formed and what they are doing now to minimise the
disruption to pupils caused by their peers, their one word Blackberry
been hoped that Thetfords parents could join forces with and to seek help
from the Teachers Unions with regard to helping our joint cause to
improve the standard of education in Thetford, but not even the second
largest Teachers Union in the UK, whoever that might be, can even be
bothered to do so!
one single teacher from Thetford Academy has offered any help, advice or
information regarding the current goings on at the academy. Every
parental enquiry for information has been stone-walled. Probably
too busy looking after number one. Maybe losing a few of the
under-performing teachers in the merger and rewarding the better ones
might not be such a bad idea.
This picture is taken from the Norfolk NASUWT website.
that Bill Boyce is actually on the Left. Would you want to be
represented by an organisation that didn't know its Left from Right!
the branch banner slogan reads "Bootiful Norfolk Du Different".
this really the image of a professional teaching union?
one they did earlier
are many similarities in the formation of Furness Academy in Cumbria to
that of Thetford Academy that parents should be aware of.
new Academy was created following the closure of three schools in
Barrow-in-Furness, opening on their original sites in 2009.
Academy was also formed against the wishes of the local community.
campaigners oust council leader - 4 campaigners get elected to local
Campaign website - Sister blog
name petition against the Academy - Including a school protest.
Furness Academy website -
first year grades down on previous
build school is currently underway with students planning to move in by
Teachers visit "thetford-academy.com"
welcome Thetford Academy's teachers and even the Norfolk NASUWT in
joining nearly 600 other visitors to this website. The only place
for up-to-date news about the Academy and its plans to [deleted].
Academy announces changes
poorly worded and often inaccurate newsletter, Principal Carey has given
the parents of Thetford Academy's students a timetable of events that the
academy believes will take place.
assurances that more parents meetings would be arranged, the Governors
have unilaterally decided to go ahead with the plans.
newsletter is short on facts: Where are the new sites? How
can an extended school be brand new? How can two buses transport
hundreds of students?
newsletter was published just a day before the Academy broke up for
half-term, in the hope that the fury will have died down before the
whole point of public consultation is to consult the people about these
changes and to listen to their views" Elizabeth Truss MP
speaking on the Daily Politics Show last week, following the embarrassing
U-turn in the Governments sell-off of England's forests. (She voted
to sell-off Thetford Forest).
luck Mrs Redpath - You're better off out of it.
official: North and South campuses are to close
as early as June this year, the north and south campuses will become
Thetford Academy's Junior and Senior high schools, although temporarily.
Carey today announced to the students what changes will take place to the
academy this Summer. Despite no interaction with the community or
even bothering to canvas their views, Principal Carey and her Governor
bosses have spent months telling concerned parents "that nothing was
cast in stone", whilst secretly continuing to make contingency plans
to move students to a school on the opposite side of their town.
time for dialog has come to an end. Parents must come together to
stop this unilateral decision. Plans are taking place to hold a
parents meeting at a neutral venue, legal action is being investigated
and further student/parent strikes should not be ruled out.
of today's announcement will be posted here tomorrow...
Academy begins switch process
at Thetford Academy will be told tomorrow what changes are likely to take
place later this year. No public consultation, a sham parent/Governor
meeting and a weak and ineffective mediator has meant that Thetfords
education can be controlled by just a few people with no parental
the Academy takes steps immediately to involve parents more actively and
change their minds regarding these latest proposals then further
disruption will be planned".
plea to Michael Gove MP
Governors of Thetford Academy are not going to stop their plans to move
pupils across town twice-a-day to a school, miles from their first choice
High School. At last weeks meeting, the Governors were only
concerned about how they were going to form a "Transport Plan".
searches of parents addresses will ensure that only the minimum of
students will be entitled to the free bus service.
Truss MP was personally handed the petition of 590 parents and pupils
against the changes, but following her own private talks with the
Governors seems unlikely to change their minds.
petition of over 500,000
names failed to change her mind on voting in favour
of selling-off Thetford Forest!]
therefore emailed Michael Gove MP, Minister for Education to intervene as
he is the only person who can do so.
announce plans for a new school
hour long meeting was held today between the 3 sponsorship Governors, the
Academy's Principal and Vice Principal, 4 parents and a students
representative. The meeting was chaired by Elizabeth Truss, MP for
A petition of 590 signatures of concerned parents who are
not in favour of any changes to the current school system was handed to
Mrs Truss. Thanks to all those who signed and to those taking the
time to collect them.
Governors pointed out that due to the poor state of the current campus
buildings and the wish to consolidate Thetfords students into one
location there was a need to build a new Academy. This decision has
been taken by the Governors and is unlikely to change.
options were proposed: The preferred option is to purchase land adjacent
"Ipswich" roundabout to the East of the town and build a
brand new school. Both Rosemary Musker and Charles Burrell would
close with the profits of the sale of the land being used by the
Academy. The least preferred option would be to extend the former
Rosemary Musker site, whilst still closing Charles Burrell.
either case, with planning still underway, the new Academy would be
likely to open in September 2013.
whilst conceding the benefits of a new learning centre that was at least
accessible for all, the parents still raised concerns over the ability of
all Thetfords students being able to reach the new school safely. Plans
are supposedly being put in place to ensure that this is the case.
Governors then pointed out that the current pupil movements between
campuses was inefficient and would benefit from a consolidation of some
"Years" on one site. The contentious issue of moving
pupils to a different school to that which is closest to their home is
still planned. However, a statement regarding these plans is due to
be announced next Friday (18th). It was confirmed by the
Governors that the current Year 10's in each campus will remain at
their home campus in the next academic year to complete their
studies to GCSE level.
to convey students between the campuses at the start and end of each day
by means of coaches are still to be finalised and a transport plan will
need to be drawn up before any action can be taken. Parents will
not accept anything less.
meetings are planned in the near future and any feedback from other
parents would be welcomed.
would a school want to become an Academy?
Hatcher looks at what makes a school want to become an Academy.
exam results?: There is no evidence as yet that being an Academy means
better results. Where this has happened it could be due to
autonomy?: Freedom from local government has not worked in
Thetford. There is no cohesive structure to our school
system. There is no longer any public accountability.
of choice?: State schools can also control admissions within reason
and the National Curriculum is changing anyway.
Union ties?: Paying less than the NUT norm can lead to the best teachers
leaving to a better paid post elsewhere.
sponsors disagree with Breckland Council policy
Thetford Academy is seeking to split the former Rosemary Musker High
School into two schools, 2.5 miles apart, the minutes of a recent
Breckland Council Cabinet meeting has revealed that councillors want High
Schools to be at the heart of each community.
discussing the upcoming Thetford Area Draft Action Plan, section 12/11 paragraph 6 (p14) of the
minutes of the 11th January meeting states that:
of the dwellings and infrastructure...would be self-supportive ie each
stage would provide homes, employment land, education and other
simply, whilst the regions elected council is in favour of local
community education, Thetford Academy regards Thetford as a whole and is
willing to split two working schools into two against parents wishes.
Thetford Academy is currently seeking parents to join a Parents Focus Group.
Successful applicants will be able to offer opinions and views as to how
the Academy can improve its provision.
the Academy's Thought for
the Week is "Justice is truth in Action". Hopefully,
this weeks action meeting with the Governors on Friday will see Justice
prevail and any plans to disrupt our children's education put in the bin.
have been placed on-line for several key Maths, English and Science posts
within the Academy. Applicants may be required to start as early as
April, leading to reports that the proposed changes are more than just
a new English teacher will be able to decipher the gobbledygook that was
printed in the proposal document as
reasons for the new arrangements:
form the framework appropriate for needs analysis for individual learning
plans and in nurture environment..."
skills are embedded..."
their aspirational targets to gateway their learning..."
a new Maths teacher will be able to calculate the financial implications
of the move, described simply as having:
potential set-up costs..."
new Science teacher will try to invent a method of transporting 800 students
across Thetford via an inter-galactic portal.
welcomed its 300th unique visitor today in just under a month
on-line. Thank you for your continued support.
sponsor breaks promises
June 2010, just 3 months before Thetford Academy was opened, details of
the new academy were put before the people of Thetford, having already
been agreed in principle by the government. The lead sponsors
announced their plans at Thetford Grammar School. A report of the
meeting by Rebecca Gough of EDP24,
public were reassured timetables would minimise movement between each
Roffe added, "We want each site to serve its community..."
then, that just five months later, Mr Roffe announces
plans to move up to 800 students across town twice a day to a school
not of their choice.
of free buses are not worth the paper they are written on, as free school
transport is not legally required for distances of less than 3 miles.
councillors get hammered
weeks letters page of the Thetford
& Brandon newspaper is packed full of irate Thetfordonians laying
siege to their inept local councillors (p6-7). Messrs James,
Varanand, Smith and Jarmy all point out that Thetfords Town Councillors
need to buck their ideas up if they are to remain in office past this
years local elections on the 5th May. With just 500 votes securing
a position on the Town Council, there are still positions in all
Thetfords Wards available to be backed by this website to make a
not yet been able to vote in the local elections since moving to Thetford
a few years ago, but will be doing so this year...
Academy spends its loot
Roffe, Principal of Wymondham College in central Norfolk will take time
off preparations for his colleges Diamond Jubilee celebrations, to make
next month regarding how Thetford Academy will spend its £18m
Academy, also known as Wymondham West, so as not to confuse it with Mr
colleges and academies he holds control over, will most likely spend
the money on a new school away from both Charles Burrell and Rosemary
Musker, with construction due to start in October.
to the Jubilee Ball can still be purchased at £50 per head with
tables of up to 10 available. It is not known if College Prefects
James and Saffron will be attending. Or you could just join me
is your homework Miss Carey?
openly ask Principal Carey to provide evidence that "there are a lot
of students in favour of this change" as stated in her interview
with ITV Anglia on 11th January. Similarly, we would like to see
the "peoples views" that the school council "has been very
active in collecting".
would also like to see a copy of the "Survey of Student Views"
which should have been completed by 10th December 2010 according to the proposal plan.
11th of February, a delegation of parents will present Miss Carey with a
petition of names of those against the move.
us your homework Miss Carey. Or has the dog eaten it?
Audio File Flash Textography
Draft Thetford Area Action
Final Draft of the Thetford Area Action Plan is due to be open for
consultation next week. The draft has taken so long it still refers
to Rosemary Musker High School.
Full TAAP document (pdf 12Mb)
TAAP summary (pdf 4Mb)
section TH17 of the report allows for the expansion of Rosemary Musker
onto adjacent land and the provision for post 16 education. This
seemingly contradicts Thetford Academy's wish to move all pupils over 13
to the south of the town.
5000 new homes to be added to the north of the town, Thetford needs a
brand new high school (11-19) to be built at the former Rosemary
Musker site. It is possible to build a new school on land adjacent
to the old one before demolishing the existing school to make new playing
panic over parents anger
a Governors' meeting this week, members of the Board of Governors and
Principal Carey have requested a meeting with a parent representation to
discuss the ongoing farce that is the Academy's proposal to move 800
students across town each morning and evening, through their mediator MP
than disclose any minutes of their meeting to the parents in general, the
Governors will try to persuade the most outspoken parents of the benefits
of having 6 combined streams of teaching for Years 7-9. However,
this form of disruption is unnecessary for the pupils about to take their
organise a "Party" in a Brewery
face of a public backlash, a meeting of the Board of Governors was due to
take place this week, whilst a meeting of the Local Council will take
place tomorrow. Hopefully, high on the agenda was the mess that our
local education system had gotten themselves into.
Board of Governors is loaded with unelected representatives from the
Academy's sponsors. However, on 5th May this year, local council
elections will take place giving parents the chance to at least replace
some of our Local Councillors who talk of being the "voice of the
concerned with League Tables and glorifying Michael Gove's education
policies, those in charge are deluding themselves.
a meeting with a Head of Year at the former Rosemary Musker High School
to discuss the looming changes in July, one concerned parent was told
that no plans had been drawn up. No words of comfort could
therefore be given to the Year 9 pupil distressed that the imminent
changes would disrupt their education. Not knowing where they would
be taking their exams this Summer or even how they would get to school.
our local MP
meeting was held today between Elizabeth Truss, MP for Southwest Norfolk
and four concerned parents (including myself) who had been in touch with
her regarding the proposed plans to switch pupils between the north and
south campuses of Thetford Academy as early as July this year.
hour long session, Ms Truss listened and noted the concerns of the
parents with several compromise ideas being raised and talking each over
about their relative merits and shortcomings.
repeatedly pointing out by ourselves that the Academy had failed to
consult the parents regarding on any of the proposals being made.
the parents are of the opinion that the Academy will not be holding any further
meetings about the changes, following Decembers debacle, Ms Truss
stressed that nothing was written in stone and that she was yet to have
further meetings with Principal Carey. The meeting was good
natured, but one feels that this should have been properly mediated some
in a response to an enquiry to Norfolk County Council requesting the
views of Lisa Christensen (Director of Children's Services and the NCC
signatory for the original Academy formation), a reply has been received
in which my "complaint" can no longer be dealt with by Norfolk
County Council since the academy is self-governing. Dead-end.
off the press
for Thetford to use the "Moving Thetford Forward" consultation
period at the end of the month has been printed on the letters page of
this weeks local "Thetford & Brandon Times".
(Although it should have read 14-19 year olds).
technically, Thetford Academy is now out of the control of the local
council, the MTF Partnership and the local council have the mandate to
create a new high school in the north of Thetford. Pressure could
be placed on the academy to postpone its plans.
Click to view
to meet our MP
an earlier email to Elizabeth Truss, the MP for southwest Norfolk, I have
been invited to attend a meeting with herself to discuss the problems
arising from the Academy's proposal to move KS4 students to the south of
the town. Other interested parties are likely to be in attendance
and I look forward to finding out more on your behalf.
am: Our first Gold member of
the Rogues gallery. Councillor Derek Mortimer, who is one of the
councillors whose Ward covers "Rosemary Musker High School" has
stated that he has been against the proposals to move KS4 to south
Thetford for some time and has raised his concerns in various meetings.
for the campaign has been forthcoming from an Anti-Academy Action group.
Offers of an external speaker to any future public meetings has been
made. Investigations into the legality of the Academy's proposals
are ongoing. Teachers Unions are also being canvassed.
continued this afternoon from the Office of Schools Adjudicator and an
email has been sent to Lisa Christensen, the Norfolk County Council
Director of Children's Services who signed the original Thetford Academy
stating that "there will be a new Forum, no children will move
school until at least 2013 and all future decisions will be done with
full public consultation". (See below).
Except from original Thetford Academy prospectus -
LIES, LIES, LIES!
enquiries have also been made to contact an "Academy Officer"
within the Department for Education. Thetford Academy's autocratic
leadership can only be stopped by the Department or more specifically the
Secretary of State for Education.
has been made with the local press, the Moving Thetford Forward
Partnership, the MP for South West Norfolk and legal representatives
regarding the closure of the only high school in north Thetford.
2009, the people of Thetford were given a questionnaire regarding the
future of Thetford. The main points raised were:
70% of the preferred new housing will be in the North/East
of the town.
50% wanted new schools to cope with the additional demand.
50% of those who responded want schools near the community.
wanted the schools left exactly as they are.
potentially only one high school left in the northern half of Thetford
by the end of the year, the time has come to create a new high school,
possibly from the amalgamation of some of the junior/infant/primary
to create a new Thetford High School
exists to allow communities to apply for the creation of a new Government
View the guide
to setting-up a new school
Thetford Academy plans to move its KS4 students to the former Charles
Burrell Humanities School in the South of the town, there will be no High
School for the many residents who live in the North and East of Thetford.
to bus pupils across town are unacceptable, uneconomic and dangerous.
pupils take a stand over campus division plans
local press report on Tuesdays student protests from the Bury Free Press.
again, Principal Carey's arrogance was alarming. She insisted that
the parents "should not be afraid of change". However, it
is not the change that is worrying. It is not being fully
consulted about the changes that has upset many parents.
expressing a wish to "engage with the parents" and insisting
that the "consultation process is underway", Principal Carey
has yet to reply properly to parents concerns, whilst already making
changes to the school curriculum in preparation for the move.
it was confirmed that the former Charles Burrell Humanities School was
the fifth lowest performer in the country for pupils attaining five A* to
"Thetford Area Action Plan" approved
Consultation will begin from the end of January for 5 weeks.
Carey guilty of plagiarism
Musker High School and Charles Burrell Humanities School were converted
into Thetford Academy so quickly that there was no time to come up with
any original ideas regarding the School ethics or even the House names.
Academy theme of "Aspiration, Inspiration, Motivation" and the
House names "Discovery and Enterprise" were plagiarised from John Spendluffe
Foundation Technology College.
Christine Carey simply copied them from her old employer, making only
Click each image to view the websites
would expect some good new ideas for £115,000+ a year.
would appear from the lack of updates that funding for the Thetford
Academy website has been suspended to save costs. Perhaps another
£115,000+ a year could be saved elsewhere.
protest takes place at Thetford Academy
first student protest has taken place outside of the old Rosemary Musker
High School. Students were protesting at having to travel between
the two campuses of Thetford Academy for lessons. (If the second
proposal goes ahead, students will have to travel across town to lessons
press and television were present as well as members
of the local police force.
interview with ITV Anglia, Principal Carey once again stated that the
decision to split the Academy was that of the School Senate and that
"everyone is welcome to have their democratic opinion, but they must
now stop and do what we want". Isn't that Chinese democracy?
student protest to go ahead
heavy opposition from some teachers and even Principal Carey, a planned
student protest is likely to take place tomorrow at "Rosemary Musker
High School", the Northern campus of Thetford Academy. According
to sources, during an unprecedented call for calmness to one year 10
class, Principal Carey was lost for words after an exchange with some of
the students who questioned her motives for the proposed changes.
over future of town centre hub
news on the shambolic organisational skills of the Academy team.
created to find those responsible for the appalling lack of
intelligence. Turning two independent schools serving two
communities into one school separating a town.
removed pending investigation]
changes to Thetford Academy cause upset
information in this article than anything ever issued by the Academy.
to be separated by age
report by the Bury Free Press on the angry meeting between parents and
Principal Christine Carey over the creation of a Learning Village at the
South campus of Thetford Academy. No proper consultation, many
questions still unanswered and economical suicide.
College submits bid for academy status
Roffe continues to screw up Thetfords schools (from 20 miles away) whilst
stating that academy status for his own Wymondham college "would not
result in many changes at [his] school"
opinions over Thetford Academy plans
two-thirds of the those who responded to the proposal were sold out by
what have become "false promises".
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