Mr Keith Geary
Chair of Governors
17 November 2010
Our ref: TIDE001
Tidemill Proposal to become an Academy
As you know I have been very concerned about this proposal and the need to ensure that all arguments were fairly put and could be understood by all those affected.
I have wanted to be helpful – hence chairing the meeting and I also wanted to hear all the arguments for myself. I was able to hear Mark’s case very clearly at the meeting but the wider issues were not as well rehearsed. As a consequence I have kept in touch with Lewisham Council and asked them to let me see their response to your consultation. I have now had an opportunity to study the letter and I wanted you to know my conclusions as they will become public when I write to constituents who have sought my views.
As a Member of Parliament I have to take an overview of the needs of the whole constituency as well as the prospects for any one institution. Taking account of all the facts I now conclude that it cannot be in the best interests of the local community, as a whole, for Tidemill School to become an Academy. Under the Labour government’s programme academies were used as a vehicle to improve failing schools. Many of us feared that as originally proposed they would become too separated from the local family of schools and create real problems for their neighbours. Many changes were made in Labour’s original proposals by a group, including myself, who worked hard with ministers to get the proposals amended. Even so there was some disadvantage to neighbours but this could be set against real improvement for a failing school. Tidemill is not a failing school but a highly successful one and the case made by the previous government does not hold.
I believe there are huge risks for Tidemill itself embodied in the proposals, though I do not doubt Mark Elm’s leadership and management skills. However such change needs to be the responsibility of more than a single person.
I was very enthusiastic about the vision that led to the development of the Deptford Lounge which appeared to be an exemplary partnership. Quite clearly the whole concept is now jeopardised and again the school as an academy could not benefit to the extent it would have.
Having looked very carefully at all the arguments I personally cannot support the proposals and will make my views known to the constituents who have sought them.
Rt Hon Joan Ruddock MP
cc. Mark Elms
Sir Steve Bullock