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Here you 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.






Sticky link: What is Special Measures?



Another Principal bites the dust

It is fitting that as this website begins to voluntarily wind down, Douglas Blackledge has stepped down as Principal of Furness Academy.

In 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.

The Principal was suspended in June following an Ofsted inspection which found the school to be "inadequate" and needing Special Measures.

The 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.

Mr 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.



After the Lord Mayors show

Life at 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.

The 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...



HMI releases Official inspection report  [Report]

Definition: "Re-son-able" - Agreeable or moderate.  Not excellent.  Not poor.

An HMI 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".

Miss de 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.

The report 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:

"Inspectors strongly recommend that the academy should not seek to appoint newly qualified teachers".

Student 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".

The 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.

Miss 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!)

In 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 outstanding excellence.

First indications are that the HMI inspectors were impressed with the improvements made since their previous visit.  "...reasonable progress..." has been made.

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.

Under current 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 space...



The Thetford Learning Trust lives on

The Thetford Learning Trust (TLT), the Trust that was originally formed to run the new Academy, is still going strong.

It could be that despite all of the media hype (BBC TV, Radio and Local Newspapers), the Inspiration Trust does not yet officially control Thetford Academy.

Previous 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.

Documents 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.

Theodore 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...


Whistleblowing and Blacklisting

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 this problem.



Something for the weekend

Thetford 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.

Teachers, 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.

Visitors 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!?

Meanwhile, 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!

[Link to her speech here]  [or download the full debate in PDF]

And 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

The 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.

There are 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 self-study.

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?!)


BBC (East)  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...

1.  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.

2.  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!

3.  Ingratiate 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!

4.  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 is gold-dust!

5.  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.

6.  Associate 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".

7.  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 quietly disbanded.



Promises Promises!

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:

"My 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" - Proverbs 16:18


HMI Inspection

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" classification.

Green re-cycling bins? - Tick

Footbridge and nature area? - Tick

Internet Café - Tick

Student toilets in new Sixth Form? - No.  Pupils must use toilets in other blocks.



Who runs Thetford Academy?

  • If you were to read local newspapers and media coverage - The Inspiration Trust.

  • According to The Inspiration Trust - The Inspiration Trust [website] [funding agreement]

  • Thetford 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 Spillane.

New names 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.

  • Companies House has on file The Thetford Learning Trust's Articles of Association [4th Sept 2013] which states that it is in charge of Thetford Academy!.  Article 46 still states that there should be at least 2 parent Governors.

Formalities have been dispensed with and it appears that a "free for all" has taken place.



Thetford Head disappears (Part II)

So far, 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]

Meanwhile, 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.

Whilst 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

UPDATE:  Following yesterdays news that new Executive Principal Adrain Ball had taken over the Twitter username @ThetfordHead and had been responding to 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 tag @aidyball.

Norfolk MP 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 THEIR PHONES!!!



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  10 Jul

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…!



New Trust makes an early signing

In a 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.

Existing 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. 

The 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!

Here's a quote that we'll review in the years to come:

"My commitment to the Thetford community is to transform education with the academy becoming an outstanding school within three years".  Adrian Ball September 2013.

Meanwhile, 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".

Mr Ball also states that one of his first tasks is “…to improve student behaviour and mutual respect”.

And 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)

Last week, just 42% of Thetford Academy's A-level students achieved an A*-C grade, down from 56% a year ago.

Once 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

Councillor 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]

Amongst 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.

Terry 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.

He has 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 2011.

It looks as though Thetford (West) has a new champion-elect.  We watch this young mans progress with interest.



Walls of Jericho

The first steps have been taken to dismantle the outgoing Thetford Learning Trust.

The 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.

No doubt the remaining Directors will also be keen to end their appointments as soon as possible.



"The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round"

The process to hand over Thetford Academy into the hands of a multi-academy trust is being undertaken...

Following an enquiry to the Department for Education, the following response was received:

"New 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.

At 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".

Job 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...



Charles Burrell up for grabs

At a 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.

With 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.

A 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.

No 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.



Free school takes over High School

A 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.

The new Free School will cater for a small number of special needs children.

However, 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 the town.

It 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.

But this is not what the politicians tell you...

Elizabeth Truss MP - Alternative education mp3  flash

Michael Gove MP - Competition mp3



Be afraid, be VERY afraid

Further investigations have uncovered the true extent of the "super-trust", a sponsor given the responsibility of running several Academies.

At 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.

The 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 Map]

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".

Ormiston 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.

Recently, 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].


Honeymoon 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 the two.

Following a late cancellation another Focus Group meeting was held at the North Campus this morning.

The 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!

Miss 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.

The 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 taught.



"It 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.


Dead wood

Eastern Daily Press:

"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"

This 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 programme.

One candidate springs to mind...



Sponsors Quit!!

In a 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.

Like rats from a sinking ship, David Lawrence, the ex-lead sponsor parted with this statement:

"I 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!!!

Principal 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.

So, for the record:

Melvyn Roffe

David Lawrence

Dr Ann Williams OBE

Wymondham College

Easton College

West Suffolk College




Dr Williams, who was awarded an OBE in 2012 for Services to Further Education, will be retiring from West Suffolk College in September 2013.


Inspiration Trust

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".

Unfortunately, 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.

When Thetford Academy:

·     Moves out of Special Measures and is given an Oftsed "outstanding" rating

·     Attains exam results comparable with like-for-like schools

·     Removes its underperforming Principal

·     Safely moves into the New Building and provides adequate transport for children commuting from South Thetford

Investigations are currently being made to see if the change of Trust is legal and conforms to the Articles of Association and Academy Agreement.

Editors 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.


Porky Pies

I have 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.

"The letter regarding the visit has been placed on our website".

The 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.

Miss Spillane was also unsure and confused as to why the parent had re-quoted the phrase "there has been no significant progress". 


Cathy 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.


Taxi for Spillane!

Cathy 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.

She 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 for purpose"

This 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.

It summarises:

“There 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 judgements:

“The sponsor’s statement of action is not fit for purpose”.

“The 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 space!!

Subsequent visits will investigate more deeply into such problems as staff absence and other practical issues.



Academy Principal suspended

In a surprise, but not unexpected move, the Principal of a newly formed Academy has been suspended.

The 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.

HOWEVER, the Academy 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)

- New buildings (costing £22m) for 1200 pupils, due to open in September 2013

- 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]

Cumbrian 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.




(i) Parents

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!)

Hopefully, this figure will be updated next month...

Unsurprisingly, 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:

82% of parents (who voted) disagreed (or strongly disagreed) that their child was being taught well at this school.

84% thought that the school failed to ensure that the pupils were well behaved, and again,

82% disagreed that the school was well managed.  (A whopping 51% strongly disagreed!!!)

Statistically, 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.

(ii) Pupils

Students 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 their views:

Vox Discipuli pdf  (1.5Mb)


Furness Academy update

In the long running saga that is strangely paralleled with Thetford Academy, Furness Academy in Cumbria has also been placed in Special Measures.

The Academy was formed out of 3 existing schools, shares the same "branding" and achieved similarly poor results in its early years.


NAHT in denial

Bernadette 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).

As for "pushing through changes without proper consultation", these are tactics previously employed by the Governors and Administrators of Thetford Academy.

Miss Hunter needs to visit Barrow and Thetford...



Deja Vu

The 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

However, whilst the enthusiasm shown by FOTAcademy is admirable, some of their ideas have been tried before:

"...talking to 'Liz Truss MP..."  (Been there)

"...parents meeting to rally ideas..."  (Done that)

"...speaking to local press..."  (Got the T-Shirt)

Miss 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.

The Travel Plan that was approved by Norfolk County Council in January 2012 stated:

"All students living within a 3 mile radius of the school are encouraged to walk or cycle..."

This 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.

In 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.



Burying bad news?

It has 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.

Worryingly, 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.

Obviously, www.thetford-academy.com is the only up-to-date, independent, local source of information about the Academy.


UPDATE:  10-04-13

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 "As reported...".  Is this a dig?  If so, there is no previous report listed on the EDP website.



Parent View

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 here]

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.

Furness 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 Government inspectors.

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’ time… [North West Evening Mail]



Better late than never

There's nothing like going into special measures to finally get things done.

An 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 performing.

The Academy had been without a Parent Governor since Mrs Trayton gave up her seat in November 2011.

However, it appears that the correct procedure for filling the vacancy was not followed:

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 is elected.

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 far as we are aware, no vacancy was made public and certainly no election was carried out.



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 September…


The Thetford & Brandon Times yesterday headlined:

“School 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 29-03-13]

The 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.

This 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.



Thetford Academy fails its Ofsted inspection

The 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:

"Achievement of Pupils - Inadequate

Quality of Teaching - Inadequate

Behaviour and Safety of Pupils - Inadequate

Leadership and Management - Inadequate"

Full Ofsted Report


What is "special measures"?

Why 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.

In 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 project".

Mr 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 Response

A full list of those responsible for turning two adequate schools into one fiasco can be found here.

Perhaps it's time to re-read these:

For: Academies - Everything you need to know (Dept for Children, Schools and Families))

Against:  Why would a school want to become an Academy? (Anti-Academy Alliance)



Shooting fish in a barrel

It is becoming tedious and all too easy to criticise the Academy and its failings, but...

Staff at 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.

After 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 out.

The 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 the World."

An announcement is due to be made by the Academy shortly.  The full Ofsted report will follow...



New Faces

Perhaps 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.

We welcome Michael Green to the hot seat or is he just hot desking?

However, according to the Academy's' website there is still no parent on the Board of Governors.

Meanwhile, 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.

Even 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...!

Update 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.



It doesn't get any better...

It has 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.

Meanwhile, 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 children.

One of 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?

It is ironic that today's Thetford Academy website "Thought for the Day" is:

In order to receive the best education students need to attend every day

Perhaps tomorrow it should be:

In order to give the best education, teachers and heads of staff should attend every day!

Parents of Thetford



Asylums and lunatics

The 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 local press last week.

However, 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).

Strangely, 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!]

I wonder if the Co-Op Funeral Services would also be willing to do a 10% child discount next year or even BOGOF!!!


It is 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.

Despite 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.

Note 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 given.

Ms Mitchell was appointed as a Director in January 2012.

In a 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.



The penny finally drops at the Academy

It has 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.

This 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!]

Now, 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"?

She is 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.

The 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 inadequate". 

Corporate manslaughter is a real possibility.



Currently, 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 lessons".

In 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 day.



Croxton Road Meeting

On 14th May, a full house of local residents and local councillors attended a meeting at the Church of the Nazarene on Croxton Road, Thetford.

Notable 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".

The Christian fed to the Lions was Matt Tracey from Norfolk County Council Highways Department.

Mr Tracey argued that a Travel Plan was in place and that everything was tickety-boo.

Once 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).

Matt 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?

During 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".

What he was really trying to say was:  "If any child gets hurt, it's YOUR fault".

Although 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

In a 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 newspapers.

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!



Public Meeting

The 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.

The 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.

The 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!!!



Teachers wanted

A large mixed comprehensive in Thetford (wherever that could be) is currently advertising again for new teaching staff...



Planning Application - Background

Following 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.

The concerns and comments regarding the proposed development include emails and statements from local, town and county councils and the highways department.

Description: Description: Norfolk County Council Highways Authority

Unfortunately, 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".

In 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.

It 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.

In his 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.


...to be continued



Still clinging on

Following 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 year later.

[Original Page]


Update (22-02-12): 

Following an email to the College, the website has now been updated.

[Updated page]



Dotting the i's

Following 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 Students"

●  "This was compounded by poor leadership and management within the Academy"

●  "A lack of consistent practice across the two sites"

●  "Poor quality teaching and learning in the absence of a clear educational vision"

●  "Independent review resulted in a new Principal and Lead Sponsor"

●  "Several teachers left the Academy at the end of July 2011"

●  "Last years students results were below the Governments floor standards"

●  "Poor attendance record"

Whilst the report states that things are improving since the management changes have taken place, it states that the following practices were viewed to be ongoing:

●  "Teaching assistants being used as teachers rather than supervisors"

●  "School workbooks routinely uncorrected"

Notably, 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.

The 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.

Ofsted has stated that these issues should be addressed as soon as possible. 

We all hope that they are!  Watch this space!


[Read the full report here]



Ofsted Inspection

Thetford Academy received officials from the Office for Standards in Education over two days last week, conducting an inspection of the schools procedures and services.

The 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]

However, during the inspection, children were sent to a holding area until the coast was clear for them to be moved on.

If there is a system in place that has been agreed, why should it be changed? Are they trying to hide something?



New Directors appointed

Details have been released of two more people that were appointed Directors of the Thetford Learning Trust in December 2011.

Margaret 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.

Meanwhile, there has still been no announcement regarding the appointment of a single parent to the Board.



Annual Accounts filed (and a mystery solved)

The Annual Report & Financial Statement for the period 30th June 2010 to 31st August 2011 has been submitted to Companies House by the Thetford Learning Trust.


It 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.

This also confirms that the Academy is not acting within its own Articles of Association.


The 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 World..."

Description: Description: C:\engineeringsurveyor.com\thetford-academy\pmsl.png


Obligatory spiel.


Academic 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!


The Academy has reserves of £883k as of August 2011.


Both of the Campuses (Croxton Road and Staniforth Road) are leased from Norfolk County Council at a "peppercorn rate".



Academy plans approved

Predictably 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.

The 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.

No plans have so far been announced as to what the Academy plans to do with the former South campus.

The 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.

Moving 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.

For the record, there has been no dissent from any politician, councillor or administrator regarding these extension plans.



Thirty pieces of silver

The following people have been appointed Directors of the Thetford Learning Trust:

Catherine Spillane, Christine Oakes, Deborah Humphrey, Michael Gibbens, Sarah Mitchell, Marion Chapman-Allen and William Bond.

Could 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?

The 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.

Remember these names...


Parents not represented

The official list of Governors has changed (again).

Not 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.

As stated earlier, the Articles of Association state that there "must be at least one parent sitting on the Board".  [See here]

Once again, the Academy plays by its own rules...


Update:  It seems that there are TWO Governors lists.  One here and one here.

Since the former does not include Mrs Trayton (the long standing Parents representative), we shall assume that this has been updated and is current.

Either way, the smoke-screen of confusion seems to be an Academy trademark.



Planning consultation period ends

The 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.

The 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!

This website has made a formal objection to the plans.



Academy Teachers "attack" Parents and Pupils

In an 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.

Whatever their reasons, this is like two people fighting whilst one of them is kicking the dog hoping that the other will back down.

There is no moral justification for strikes that effect third parties.

The 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.

As we have said before, the NASUWT is a Union that doesn't know it's left from right and also struggles with English...

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Hopefully, 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.

Will we be seeing you on the front gate Caroline?



New Academy Planning Application

The above planning application has now been made to Norfolk County Council.

The consultation period will end on 8th December 2011.

Comments may be made on the NCC website.

The proposal is as follows:

"Demolition 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 works"

The full list of documents can be downloaded from here

Transport Plan

The above transport report is USELESS!!!

As 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.

The reports contents are outlined below:

National, Regional & Local Transport Policy

Reduce the need to travel in the first place.  This will not be helped by closing CBHS.

Reduce single occupancy vehicles.  Unless children are driving themselves to school, this is not a problem!!

Existing Transport

Bus:  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 sufficient.

No 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.

Walking/Cycling:  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.

Currently, no children cycle to the South Campus.  This is likely to change significantly with new cyclists being exposed to major roads.

Car:  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.

London 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.

Luckily, the new layout includes plenty of segregated staff parking.

Rail:  I don't know why this was even mentioned - unless the majority of the new Academy students are likely to be commuting from Cambridge...

The 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!!!



Thetford Academy hosts Politics Roadshow

On 6th November an edition of the BBC Politics Show was aired which discussed the growth of Free Schools and Academies.

Click here to watch (40Mb)

Here are some interesting quotes:

The report begins with a convenient statement:

01:03 Thetford Academy has grown out of two failing schools" - Chris Bond, BBC

Not 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 everything.

Meanwhile, what about those at the Academy:

01:19 "We want the town to be proud of us" - Cathy Spillane, Principal

Respect gets respect.

01:24 "I'm very proud because it's exciting because Thetford's Moving Forward" - Pupil

Haven't I heard that catchphrase before?  Are they brainwashing these children?

Back to the report:

07:10 "Competition in every realm of life is the thing that drives, increases standards" - Michael Gove, MP & Education Minister

Thetford Academy has created a monopoly of higher education in Thetford and removed any competition to itself.

Mr Gove, then goes onto explain that Parents who are not happy with their Childs school should:

- Contact the Head Teacher

- Contact Ofsted

- Withdraw their child from the school

16:13 "..if 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

Duh!  Thetford Academy is proposing to close the only alternative high school in Thetford (Charles Burrell) and remove any choice for parents and children.

Norfolk County Council cannot decide whether it is leading or being led.

17:24  Alison 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.

However, 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.

Finally, 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.



Couldn't organise a party in an ale house

Last Friday, several parents were sent letters helpfully informing them that their children were about to sit an important examination counting towards their final grades.

The exam in question was for Mathematics.

Unfortunately, the letter stated that their child should attend the SOUTH campus promptly at 8:50am on Monday morning.

Since the letter dropped on doormats on a Friday, there was no chance to contact the Academy to question the location.

Fortunately, 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.

However, 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 important examination!!!!

This matter would be laughable if it were not so serious...

It 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.

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Thetford Academy Principal Miss Spillane has written a letter of apology to those parents affected by this weeks mis-directed maths examination.

Both letters can be seen here



Details of winning bid announced

Mansell 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.

In a 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 was lucky!

The 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 planning application.

For 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!

The 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.

The sum total of its traffic management system is a one-way system around its 232 space car park.

There are no additional bus stops.


Academy Debate

Our local BBC Politics Show will be showing a programme debating the Academy system on Sunday November 6th.



Academy buys support for new school

Plans 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

Falling 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.

When 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?

The official Academy website does not yet provide any details for parents unable to attend the meeting.

The article in the Thetford & Brandon Times invited email responses.  [Here's one]

If it transpires that everyone in Thetford is happy with the idea, then this will be the last update to the website.


Vice Principal

Applications for the post of Vice Principal closed earlier this month with the final shortlist being interviewed last week.

One 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".

We have also been contacted by the visual media.  Details to follow...



New School Timetable Announced

Details 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.

The 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 and 9pm.

●  The formal planning application will be made to Norfolk County Council in mid-November.

The application will be heard by a Norfolk County Council Planning Committee.  Breckland Council will only have a limited consultation role. 

●  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.



The 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."

So 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 school.



No planning permission for Academy extension

New 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.

Miss 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!

This website will actively oppose any application to extend the site.  Watch this space...



Annual Return submitted

The Thetford Learning Trust has submitted its Annual Return late on the 7th August, listing the 3 main Company Directors on 4 pages:

David Lawrence (Profession: Principal of Easton College)

Melvyn Roffe (Profession: Principal of Wymondham College) and

Dr Elizabeth Ann Williams (Profession: None).  

Dr 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 school?

Not only late, but wrong.  3/10  Must try harder!!



Annual Returns Overdue

Documents held at Companies House show that the Thetford Learning Trust's Annual Company Return is overdue as of 02-08-11.

This does not set a very good example to children when they are being told that their homework must be in on time!



Freedom of Information

The following documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act:

Thetford Academy Funding Agreement

This Agreement is not yet listed on the Department for Education website

Articles of Association

To date, the Academy does not comply with Section 46(d) of the Articles of Association (p19), stating that there should be two staff governors. 

With more and more staff leaving the Academy, these positions could remain empty for some time...

The following documents set-out how the Academy should deal with admissions, special needs and exclusions:

Pupil Admissions

Pupils with SEN

Serious Incidents of Behaviour

"To 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

With an immediate scoop on its pages, the official Thetford Academy website is live again.

It 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.

Nevertheless, the website remains mostly unchanged.

Perhaps the Academy can now tell us how many other candidates were fought off in this obstreperous, rambunctious and tumultuous battle.



Acting Principal becomes the new Principal at Thetford Academy

Cathy Spillane has been given the challenge of becoming the new Principal at Thetford Academy.

The former 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

The Eastern Daily Press reports:

"The 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 2013".

How many spelling mistakes can you get into one sentence?

Miss Spillanes own newsletter, issued at the end of last month whilst still Acting Principal, made the following statements:

"24th June 2001".  No it isn't.

"...the 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.

 "The new sponsors (are) looking for a new Principal...the students will be involved in that process".  Obviously not.

"Finally, we have been updating our website and it will go live again next week"  Nothing yet...



Academy website coming soon

Thetford 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. 

Let's hope it's worth it.

In the 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.



June Newsletter

Here is a copy of the latest newsletter in full.

Acting Principal Spillane still thinks it's 2001...  (God help our kids!)

Thetford 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 Principal!



I have 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...

I have been informed by the YPLA that the Department for Education will shortly be placing the Funding Agreement online.  Watch this space.

Although 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

Thetford Academy has formally announced changes to the Board of Governors via its website.

Melvyn 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.

The 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.



Wymondham College steps down as Lead Sponsor

In a 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 given.

College Principal Melvyn Roffe is the third person to decide to take a backseat from leading the Academy in less than three months.

In April, newly appointed Principal Christine announced her departure due to health reasons.

Last month Dr Roger Harris to stepped down as a Staff Governor, citing work duties.

Thetford Academy is an independent Trust run solely by its Governors.  Will there be any left?


Parents meet to discuss new school...

Acting 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:

One page that may prove interesting is the Community Page:


Apparently, 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.

Unless the meeting was only for South Campus parents, as a parent of two North Campus children, I was unaware of any such meeting.

The included pictures are perhaps shown as an illustration of the meeting.  However, they were taken several weeks beforehand.

Invited Mayor, Derek Mortimer asked whether any further consultation would take place...!

Included 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 teacher".

Amongst the items "wished for" by the children were "Bigger Cafater Lunch Hall" and "Whater Slides".

Fr(ee) vending machines were changed to Healthy ones!

In what looks like teachers handwriting are requests for "More Computers" and "Bigger Windows".

Meanwhile, amongst the dislikes was the comment "that we are not alowed to use the elivator" [sic].

It was reported that everyone who attended was in favour of the plans.  This can be achieved by only inviting those with a vested interest!!!

No plans to extend the school have yet been submitted to Breckland Council.  Watch this space.


Thetford Academy unaffected by Teachers Strike

A "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.

Thursdays 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.

Update:  It will be interesting to see if the NUT members will continue to demonstrate outside of an empty school or attend the Royal Norfolk Show...



Teachers vote for strike action

Thetford Academy is set to be hit by a teachers strike at the end of this month.

Members of the NUT union are likely to walk out on June 30th in a dispute with the Government.

Whilst 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 lives.

Christine Blower of the NUT says, "It is disgraceful that the government is pressing ahead with its reforms which will affect teachers' pensions".

However, 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 NASUWT.

Many 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?

To misquote Principal Careys interview during the January student protest:

"For [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]'".

I will be contacting Bill Boyce of the NASUWT (the second largest teaching union) to ask what his members will be doing on June 30th.

Update: No response from Mr Boyce.  Was to be expected following their last non-response...

The NASUWT is desperately seeking members, offering free membership.  At the recent "Alternative March" in London just 20 Norfolk members attended!

Interestingly, their website claims: "It  is important...that parental opinion is on the side of teachers if they do have to resort to industrial action".



Academies share £340,000 windfall

It was 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 money.

Alison 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 as sponsors".

However, remember the response from Norfolk County Council when asked to intervene in the furore concerning the unilateral changes announced in January.

Tim Newton (NCC Development Officer) replied to my email:

"The 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"

Even 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.

We have since discovered that Miss Christensen is a Director of the Thetford Learning Trust!

The 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.

By 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!.

Schools are being pushed into becoming Academies or else suffer the consequences of a funding shortfall.

Perhaps 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!


Changes to Academy Governors

Dr 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”).


2000 website hits

Today, we have recorded over two thousand "unique" hits to this website since January.  Thanks again for all of your interest and support.



Local Schools Network

This fresh new website aims to celebrate local schools and offers a chance to question the mantra "Academy School Good - State School Bad".

Its aims are:

- Against the abuse of Charitable status

- For a broad and balanced curriculum

- For fair admissions

- For transparency in Academies & Free Schools



Do as I say not as I do

Wymondham College (Thetford Academy's lead sponsor) held its 60th Anniversary Diamond Ball on Saturday.

Without 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 away.

Ex-students of the college were treated to locally produced fayre in the form of a lavish five course dinner, whilst accompanied by a live band.

Parents 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.

Meanwhile, 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 that £18m.

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 Musker site.

The advertisement states that the Finance Officer must have “good numeracy”.  Brilliant!

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.

“You will need...to like young people/young adults”.  That’ll reduce the interview list!

The second vacancy is for a new Personal Assistant to the Vice Principal and Finance Director.

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 PA’s!

Meanwhile there is still no advertisement for a second Parent Governor as required by law!!



New Thetford Mayor elected

Congratulations to Derek Mortimer, the newly elected Mayor of Thetford.

Councillor Mortimer was supportive of our campaign against the unilateral decisions made by the Thetford Academy and has been re-elected as Mayor for a second term.

The new Mayor plans to help in the regeneration of Thetfords town centre and to keep a conscientious eye on the workings of the council.

Good luck and enjoy your year, Derek.



Results of Local Elections

These are the results of last weeks Parish and District elections in Thetford:

Thetford Town Council

Thetford Abbey  Thetford Castle  Thetford Guildhall  Thetford Saxon

Breckland District Council

Thetford Abbey  Thetford Castle  Thetford Guildhall  Thetford Saxon



Thetford High School

A "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.

The 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.

Any parents or teachers wishing to help in the creation of a new high school should contact this website via the contacts page.

Meanwhile, 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.




The 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.

Meanwhile, thetford-academy.com has 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.

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No news is good news

The 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).


Conference 'silly' season begins

This 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 status".

Shame 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 pensions. 

Meanwhile, 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.

Not one of the NASUWT's reasons against Academies and Free schools mentions pupils at all.


As for the NASUWT's website, click here to see their "Academy Schools - NASUWT objectives" 

Not 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".



Local Elections

On 5th May, candidates will be standing for election as local councillors.

The following pdf documents list the candidates for Thetford Town Council and Breckland Council.

Thetford Town Council Nominations

Breckland Council Nominations

If you are able to do so, please use your vote as there won't be another chance for several years.

Local Labour 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.

Unfortunately, there will not be any elections regarding the make-up of Thetford Academy's Learning Trust...



Website aims

On January 8th, when this website was set-up, it had the following aims:

Description: Description: C:\engineeringsurveyor.com\thetford-academy\tickbox.jpgCreate a focus for parents to voice their opposition to the scheme.

Description: Description: C:\engineeringsurveyor.com\thetford-academy\tickbox.jpgLobby Councillors to oppose the above scheme.

Description: Description: C:\engineeringsurveyor.com\thetford-academy\tickbox.jpgImmediately stop the plans to split the Academy into two schools.

Description: Description: C:\engineeringsurveyor.com\thetford-academy\tickbox.jpgRemove Mrs Carey from the post of Principal.

Description: Description: C:\engineeringsurveyor.com\thetford-academy\box.jpgElect a partisan parent either onto the Board of Governors or Local Council.


One more to go...


Despite 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 situation. 

We 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 School...

Councillor 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 his support.



End of term report: Could do better

Once 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.

A press release from the Moving Thetford Forward group was deliberately delayed until 1am Friday morning.

This 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.



Thetford Academy Principal retires

Christine Carey has announced that she is stepping down as Principal of Thetford Academy with immediate effect due to health reasons.

Although 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.

There is no mention of her departure on the official Academy website.

Despite 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.

Unfortunately, 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.

Melvyn Roffe, principal sponsor of the Academy, said she had made;

"such a positive impact in the past year".

whilst Christine herself parted with:

"I have had tremendous support from everyone in this community".

Miss 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?

Misses Robinson, Redpath, Carey and Spillane...  Perhaps it's time a Mr was given the chance of becoming the next Associate Principal?

Read the report from the Bury Free Press



Catching your breath

So, 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:

"Close one of Thetfords high schools and move everyone into the other one".

Not exactly what the founding fathers of the Moving Thetford Learning Group had in mind in November 2008.

Despite 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].

Reading between the lines, Mondays letter contains some interesting points:

"sponsors 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.

"discussed plans for combining years groups":  Little to be said.  We all know how one sided the discussions were.

"If we had...a green-field site...we would have combined the year groups":  This statement is spurious, irrelevant and unnecessary.  It can only have been included as a side-swipe that Principal Carey is not actually backing down.

"This 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...

"parents 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 parents.



Thetford Academy announces U-turn in student cohort plans

Today 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.

There 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.

The letter is reproduced here:


4th April 2011


Confirmation of future development for the Academy

During the past few days we have received confirmation that the new academy building will be located on north campus on Croxton road.

As you will know this has followed many months of sponsors and governors exploring the development options in and around the town.

In the last few months we have also discussed plans for combining year groups on either north or south campus according to student ages.

With 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.

If we had been moving to a green-field site in 2013 as originally planned, we would have combined the year groups.

Now 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 surrounding area.

This 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.

Over 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.

Full information of this activity will be sent out next term.

Yours faithfully,


Christine Carey



Editorial comment:

During 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!

Whilst 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.

At 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 County Council.

Whilst 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 school.  

This site will continue to fight for the rights of ALL Thetford students



The 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 . 

This was obviously NOT the maximum benefit option.  But then, 'we told you so'.


Read the story as reported in the Thetford and Brandon Times



Communication must improve, say parents

Andrew Fitchett, a reporter for the Bury Free Press newspaper has written his article about last weeks parents meeting, which appeared in today's issue.

As an independent observer, Mr Fitchett reported that parents were concerned that dialogue between the academy and parents was insufficient.

Since 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.

Ms Carey has responded by saying that "a statement on the school's future would be released in the near future".



Unofficial Parents Meeting

On 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.

Also in attendance was a reporter from the Bury Free Press.

In addition to the public discussion, a secret ballot of views was obtained by means of a questionnaire.  The results are shown in the following document:

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Questionnaire Results


The most 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

Although 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.

Lack 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.


Q: When is a Charity not a Charity?

A:  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.

The 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.

The Academy may no longer be maintained by Norfolk CC (see below), but their Head of Children's Services is still a major player.

Under 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.

Interestingly, the Company document was drawn up by Vicki Hair, one of the finest Academic Law lawyers from Browne Jacobsen.



A 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.



Another visitor milestone reached

Today we have welcomed our 900th unique visitor to this site in just over two months.  Thank you to everyone.


So 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.

Local Council:

This has no jurisdiction over the Academy.  A dead end.

Governors 1 Thetfords Parents and Students 0.  A bad start, but early days.

County Council:

Lisa 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.

So I 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.

Tim was a former member of the Moving Thetford Forward Learning Group, so surely he would have something to say about his pet project.

His response of 19th January 2011 said otherwise:

"Thank 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".

Tim no longer has any influence over the Academy and has even forgotten when it was opened!

Two days later, an email from Terence Bartlett from Norfolk County Council confirmed this:

"The 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".

Portions of this email were either "cut & paste" from a standard Norfolk County Council response or he also believes the academy opened in 2009.

A quick one-two and it's two nil to the Academy.

Local Government:

A plea 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.


National Government:

The 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 Academy.

However, 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.

So much for an independent complaint about the Academy.

4-0 and it's beginning to look like Man United against Bury Town after 10 minutes at Old Trafford.

Fridays meeting is our last chance to salvage any hope of reaching the Final.


Thetford Academy - Behind the scenes

Freedom of Information Act - Part II

This is the story of the creation of Thetford Academy...

Documents 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 schools.

Unfortunately, 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.

The "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.

Nancy Robinson summed up the mood of the first meeting by stating that:

"...the time has never been more right for everyone to get around the table and change things forever and have a united approach".

From 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.

At the same time, the future of Charles Burrell was being discussed and the catchment areas of both high schools were looked at.

In February 2009, the first mention of an overseeing Trust was made.

David Lawrence, one of the current Academy governors, said:

"...we 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".

Unfortunately, nothing being proposed today is remotely like what was planned over the next two years.

By 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".

Sourcing funding continued to be an issue.

It was 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 Forum. 

This 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.

Six 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 been found.

A joint governing body meeting between the two schools took place in September 2009.  However, the perceptive Miss Robinson was concerned about:

"...the lack of parent governors present".

It was also announced that both schools would no longer be top priorities regarding government funding.

An 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.

Nancy Robinson, once again the voice of reason, suggested that:

"...we need to consult with the students as a key player."

Melvyn Roffe attended his first Learning Group meeting in January 2010 as primary sponsor and stated that:

"It was not about takeover...they would not be telling Thetford how things should be done..."

Embarrassingly, 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.

The 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.

Editorial comment: 

Throughout 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.

Please read the original prospectus again:

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The Proposed Thetford Academy.pdf (12.5Mb)


Nothing 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.


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Yet 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!



Freedom of Information data released

Academy Public Consultation

Consultation 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.

The full results of the public consultation regarding the proposed Thetford Academy in 2010 reveal some interesting points.

The consultation took place between 10th February and 24th March 2010.

Despite 4500 consultation documents being issued, only 158* were returned.

Of these, just 88 supported the proposal whilst 68 did not support the proposal (with 2 abstentions).

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Consultation Results


The document also breaks down those that responded:


Incredibly, 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.

A 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 teachers.

The 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. 


The 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 Thetford Academy.

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Outcomes of Closure Consultations


The report also includes other Norfolk Academies that have been blanked out by myself as irrelevant, not through censorship.

Page 1 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!

The 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.

It 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.

Even 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.

Finally, the document states that:

"The 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"

Strange then, that suddenly a single site is now the best solution!

and more incredibly:

"...the 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".


More "Theti-leaks" to follow tomorrow...



Planet Earth calling Thetford Academy

This week saw the release of another memo from the Academy regarding pupil safety.  This time from the Vice Principal.  There is no copyright notice.

The first line reads:

"The safety of our students is always our concern"

I'm 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.

It continues...

"We 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."

Wow.  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?

Here's the icing on the cake.  The crux of the matter.  The Statement of the Year...

"Unless absolutely necessary students should walk to and from school".

Brilliant!.  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.

What 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!

This is what the parents of Thetfords children have been saying all along.  It's called "Consequential Analysis".  ie Planning Ahead!


Update:  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.

Better 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...



Thetford Academy's Learning Trust is "illegal"

The Governing body of Thetford Academy is, to the best of my knowledge, illegal.

The Academies Act 2010 states that:

"...there must be at least two parent governors..."

The official list of governors posted on the academy's website states that only one governor is a parent.

A formal request to the academy to list its current governors along with their roles and dates of office has so far not been answered!


Official Complaint

An official complaint has been made to the governors regarding their decision to force pupils to move schools prior to their exams. 

Current 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 pupils education.

Also cited was the legality of the Learning Trusts decision given its make up of parents.

Unfortunately, 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.

Meanwhile, enquiries are continuing with a London based law firm regarding the possibility of a Judicial Review.

Update:  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.

At least the responses will be fresh in time for the Parents Meeting later that day...



Academy hires PR company

Thetford 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.

"In 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"

However, 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.

There 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.



Emergency comments page working!

My 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.

If enough support is shown, then I shall endeavour for a second parents meeting to be arranged to discuss the measures outlined by the Learning Trust.



A Plea to the Parents of Thetford

Following 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.

Normally, 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 advance!

At a council meeting held last night, councillor Derek Mortimer was very kind in supporting our proposal for a public meeting.

However, 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.

If you 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 campaign pages.

Most 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 good cause.

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.



Welcome Barrovians!

Firstly, a warm welcome to visitors of this site to fellow Academy sufferers in Barrow-in-Furness!  (That's in Cumbria folks).

They 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.

Sadly, 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 **********!

Looks like Derek was right all along...


Thetford Academy looks to settle on a single site

Rebecca 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.

Sponsorship 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.

He 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?

He 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?

And finally...Melvyn is concerned about the size of the new academy.  I give up - Taxi for Mr Roffe!


The chips are down and the Academy shows its hand

Last 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

A 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.

Should 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.

Other plans are also ongoing...


Local Teachers Union gets tough - against those fighting their cause

The 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 made.

The letter points out that "clearly [the administrator] feels with the creation of this website that an injustice has been done".

Without 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 incorrect.

The letter goes on to point out that the NASUWT is a Professional organisation which does an excellent job acting on behalf of its members.

A 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 academies:

"Sensible governing bodies have seen through the false claims of 'additional' money"

The NASUWT newsletter all but calls the Governors of Thetford Academy "stupid".

It also highlights conversion as:

"...an irreversible step that has profound adverse implications for children and young people..."

Thanks a lot.

The 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!

When 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 response was:


Truly professional...!

It had 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!

Not 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.

Update:  This picture is taken from the Norfolk NASUWT website.


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Given 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!

Similarly, the branch banner slogan reads "Bootiful Norfolk Du Different".

Is this really the image of a professional teaching union?



Here's one they did earlier

There are many similarities in the formation of Furness Academy in Cumbria to that of Thetford Academy that parents should be aware of.

The new Academy was created following the closure of three schools in Barrow-in-Furness, opening on their original sites in 2009.

Furness Academy was also formed against the wishes of the local community.

Anti-academy campaigners oust council leader - 4 campaigners get elected to local council.

Campaign website - Sister blog campaign.  Respect!

6000 name petition against the Academy - Including a school protest.

Furness Academy website - Look familiar?

Academy first year grades down on previous

A new build school is currently underway with students planning to move in by 2013.


Academy Teachers visit "thetford-academy.com"

We 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

In a 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.

Despite assurances that more parents meetings would be arranged, the Governors have unilaterally decided to go ahead with the plans.

The 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?

The 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 return.

"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).

Good luck Mrs Redpath - You're better off out of it.



It's official: North and South campuses are to close

From as early as June this year, the north and south campuses will become Thetford Academy's Junior and Senior high schools, although temporarily.

Miss 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.

The 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.

Details of today's announcement will be posted here tomorrow...



Thetford Academy begins switch process

Students 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 interest.

"Unless the Academy takes steps immediately to involve parents more actively and change their minds regarding these latest proposals then further disruption will be planned".



A plea to Michael Gove MP

The 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".

Post-code searches of parents addresses will ensure that only the minimum of students will be entitled to the free bus service.

Elizabeth 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.

[A petition of over 500,000 names failed to change her mind on voting in favour of selling-off Thetford Forest!]

I have therefore emailed Michael Gove MP, Minister for Education to intervene as he is the only person who can do so.



Governors announce plans for a new school

An 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 Southwest Norfolk.

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.

The 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.

Two options were proposed: The preferred option is to purchase land adjacent to the "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.

In either case, with planning still underway, the new Academy would be likely to open in September 2013.

However, 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.

The 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.

Plans 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.

Further meetings are planned in the near future and any feedback from other parents would be welcomed.



Why would a school want to become an Academy?

Richard Hatcher looks at what makes a school want to become an Academy.

Better exam results?: There is no evidence as yet that being an Academy means better results.  Where this has happened it could be due to selective admissions.

More 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.

Freedom of choice?:  State schools can also control admissions within reason and the National Curriculum is changing anyway.

No Union ties?: Paying less than the NUT norm can lead to the best teachers leaving to a better paid post elsewhere.



Academy sponsors disagree with Breckland Council policy

Whilst 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.

Whilst discussing the upcoming Thetford Area Draft Action Plan, section 12/11 paragraph 6 (p14) of the minutes of the 11th January meeting states that:

"Construction of the dwellings and infrastructure...would be self-supportive ie each stage would provide homes, employment land, education and other supporting infrastructure..."

Put 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Finally, 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.



New teachers wanted

Advertisements 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 speculation.

Hopefully, a new English teacher will be able to decipher the gobbledygook that was printed in the proposal document as reasons for the new arrangements:

"...facilities management..."

"...to form the framework appropriate for needs analysis for individual learning plans and in nurture environment..."

"...thinking skills are embedded..."

"...whole student cohort..."

"...meeting their aspirational targets to gateway their learning..."

whilst a new Maths teacher will be able to calculate the financial implications of the move, described simply as having:

"...some potential set-up costs..."

and a new Science teacher will try to invent a method of transporting 800 students across Thetford via an inter-galactic portal.


Website gains momentum

www.thetford-academy.com welcomed its 300th unique visitor today in just under a month on-line.  Thank you for your continued support.



Academy sponsor breaks promises

In 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, stated that:

"...the public were reassured timetables would minimise movement between each site".

Mr Roffe added, "We want each site to serve its community..."

Surprising 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.

Promises 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.



Thetfords councillors get hammered

This 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 difference.

I have 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...



Thetford Academy spends its loot

Melvyn Roffe, Principal of Wymondham College in central Norfolk will take time off preparations for his colleges Diamond Jubilee celebrations, to make an announcement next month regarding how Thetford Academy will spend its £18m grant.

The Academy, also known as Wymondham West, so as not to confuse it with Mr Roffes other 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.

Tickets 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 outside protesting.



Where is your homework Miss Carey?

We 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".

We 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.

On the 11th of February, a delegation of parents will present Miss Carey with a petition of names of those against the move.

Show us your homework Miss Carey.  Or has the dog eaten it?

Transcript (PDF)  MP3 Audio File  Flash Textography



Draft Thetford Area Action Plan Consultation

The 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)

Interestingly, 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.

With 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 fields.



Governors panic over parents anger

Following 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 Elizabeth Truss.

Rather 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 exams. 



Couldn't organise a "Party" in a Brewery

In the 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.

The 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 people".

Solely concerned with League Tables and glorifying Michael Gove's education policies, those in charge are deluding themselves.

During 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.



Meeting our local MP

A 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.

In a 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.

It was repeatedly pointing out by ourselves that the Academy had failed to consult the parents regarding on any of the proposals being made. 

Whilst 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 time ago.

Meanwhile, 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.



Hot off the press

A plea 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).

Although, 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.

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Click to view



Invitation to meet our MP

Following 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.



Today's diary

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.

Support 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.

pm:  Dialogue has 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).

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Except from original Thetford Academy prospectus - LIES, LIES, LIES!


Initial 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.



Lobbying continues

Contact 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.

Watch this space!!



Regenerating Thetfords Future

In 2009, the people of Thetford were given a questionnaire regarding the future of Thetford.  The main points raised were:

- Over 70% of the preferred new housing will be in the North/East of the town.

- Over 50% wanted new schools to cope with the additional demand.

- Over 50% of those who responded want schools near the community.

- 67% wanted the schools left exactly as they are.

With 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 schools.



Application to create a new Thetford High School

Legislation exists to allow communities to apply for the creation of a new Government maintained school.

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View the guide to setting-up a new school


Since 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.

Plans to bus pupils across town are unacceptable, uneconomic and dangerous.



Academy pupils take a stand over campus division plans

A local press report on Tuesdays student protests from the Bury Free Press.

Once 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.

Despite 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.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed that the former Charles Burrell Humanities School was the fifth lowest performer in the country for pupils attaining five A* to C grades.



Draft "Thetford Area Action Plan" approved

Consultation will begin from the end of January for 5 weeks.


Principal Carey guilty of plagiarism

Rosemary 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.

The Academy theme of "Aspiration, Inspiration, Motivation" and the House names "Discovery and Enterprise" were plagiarised from John Spendluffe Foundation Technology College.

Principal Christine Carey simply copied them from her old employer, making only minor changes..

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Click each image to view the websites

You would expect some good new ideas for £115,000+ a year.

It 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.



Student protest takes place at Thetford Academy

The 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 everyday).

The local press and television were present as well as members of the local police force.

In an 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?

Windows Media Player (7.7Mb)

MP4 Mobile (2.2Mb)



Planned student protest to go ahead

Despite 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.



Uncertainty over future of town centre hub

Latest news on the shambolic organisational skills of the Academy team.



www.thetford-academy.com created to find those responsible for the appalling lack of intelligence.  Turning two independent schools serving two communities into one school separating a town.



[Item removed pending investigation]



Potential changes to Thetford Academy cause upset

More information in this article than anything ever issued by the Academy.



Pupils to be separated by age

A 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.



Wymondham College submits bid for academy status

Melvyn 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"



Differing opinions over Thetford Academy plans

Unfortunately, two-thirds of the those who responded to the proposal were sold out by what have become "false promises".


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Latest Update!

Academy placed into special measures

Planning Application approved - despite no feasible Travel Plan in place

Thetford Academy legal documents uploaded

Academy holds "parents meeting" behind closed doors

Change of lead sponsor

Principal Carey resigns from £115.000 post in less than a year.

Academy backs down over plans to merge Years, but still announces CBHS will close.

Academy criticised over lack of communication.

Public meeting held at Thetford Guildhall.

Site Forum added for your comments.

Governors meet Parents to discuss proposals.

Parents meet SW Norfolk MP to discuss academy plans to move students across town to another school.

A plea to Thetford is printed in the local paper!


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