Bury St Edmunds: Governors of Tollgate Primary School axed just days after breakaway plans announced
09:58 25 February 2014
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The governing body of a school in special measures which attempted to break away from controversial restructuring plans looks set to be disbanded by Suffolk County Council.
The council wrote to governors at Tollgate Primary School, in Bury St Edmunds, on Friday informing them of the council’s intention to replace them with an interim executive board (IEB).
The move comes just days after Tollgate’s board of governors joined their counterparts at Howard Middle School in announcing plans to break away from the council’s school organisation review (SOR) to become academies within the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust.
Schools Minister Lord John Nash has even approved the application from Tollgate, which has been in special measures since November 2012 after being rated “inadequate” by Ofsted.
However, the letter to governors from the county council states that the proposals to replace them with an IEB have been on the table since last month, when the results of Ofsted’s latest monitoring report were published and found that the school was not making enough progress.
“The process for a school organisational review in Bury is continuing as announced, despite Tollgate Primary School seeking academy status,” a council spokesman said last night.
“We have issued a legal notice to the governors at Tollgate Primary School, advising of our intention to intervene as a result of the school’s current special measures status.
“We asked governors for their views and have since notified them that we’re in the process of making an interim executive board application, which will be sent to the Secretary of State for approval.”
Richard Fletcher, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust, said he could not understand why the council was taking such action.
He added: “The Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust has full confidence in the school’s governing body and we believe we can work together to improve standards at the school in a away that the local authority so far has failed to do.
“The Department for Education (DfE) approved conversion to academy status for Tollgate school, as part of the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust.
“The department has shown support for our ‘all-through’ approach and we expect their continued support for the very important work of raising standards at Tollgate.”
A spokesman from the DfE said yesterday that the department had not yet received the IEB application for Tollgate from Suffolk County Council.
A statement from the DfE said: “At the end of 2012, Tollgate Primary School was judged by Ofsted to be inadequate and was placed in special measures. Ofsted visited again in December 2013 and found that the school was making insufficient progress.
“In January, Tollgate’s governing body voted to become an academy under the sponsorship of the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust. This was agreed by Lord Nash on February 11, and an academy order was issued.”
The decision on whether to formally adopt SOR will be taken by Suffolk County Council’s cabinet during a meeting today at West Suffolk House, starting at 11am.