Deptford says no to Tidemill becoming an academy

Email to Joan Ruddock MP June 2nd 2011

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Dear Joan,

As you know from our recent email correspondence, I have been involved in a campaign organised by the parents of Tidemill Primary School and other members of the local community in Deptford, in response to the school’s application for academy status. Our initial priority was to ensure that there was an adequate consultation process, one which would clarify the reasons for the move and allow parents in particular the opportunity to raise any concerns they might have about the new arrangements and to have some input to the planning and decision-making procedure.

I wrote to the Governors on 20 July last year [cc you] with two specific requests: (i) details of Mark Elm’s current remuneration package and (ii) a more transparent and meaningful consultation process.

In relation to the second point, as you are aware, the consultation timetable was extended but there was little or no real improvement in the communication from the school, and the influence which parents and the wider community were able to bring to bear remained extremely limited: it has been repeatedly made clear to us that the sole decision-making body is the Board of Governors.

My various letters and emails to the governors requesting more background information produced no tangible result, however with help from the Freedom of Information Commission, I have now had sight of some but by no means all of the minutes and other supporting documentation in relation to the meetings of the Board of Governors, and the associated Finance Committee in the last two years.

On the evidence of the records so far provided, my confidence in the running of these two groups is low: in particular the control exerted over the Finance Committee by the main Board. For example, there would appear to be no audit trail of the decision to award Mark Elms substantial bonuses in 2009 and 2010. Given the increased budgetary autonomy enjoyed by academies, I feel that there is significant cause for concern that the current arrangements for the school’s governance may not be fit for purpose.

I am therefore asking for your urgent help by writing a letter to Michael Gove Secretary of State for Education asking him to hold off signing the academy application pending independent scrutiny – preferably by the LEA – of the school’s existing arrangements for managing its finances.

If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact me on ***********and I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards



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