Two more Telford academy schools placed in special measures
Two more academy schools in Telford have been placed in special measures by the Government's education watchdog - after inspectors rated them "inadequate" in every single area.
New sponsors have come forward to take over the running of four under-performing academies in Telford, it has been revealed.
Telford Co-operative Multi Academy Trust (TCMAT) chairman Peter Lawley said the un-named backers would take over Sutherland Co-operative Academy, Wrockwardine Wood Arts Academy, Lakeside Academy and Phoenix Academy from September.
Sutherland Co-Operative Academy and Wrockwardine Wood Arts Academy have also both been placed in special measures, which means all four schools will now be regularly monitored by Government inspectors to make sure the necessary improvements are made to bring them back up to scratch.
TCMAT was created in 2013 to oversee the management of all four schools following conversions to academies, taking them out of local authority control.
Its website says the trust is "committed to providing excellence for all students" and that one of its stated aims is for all schools to "be judged as outstanding". But inspectors visiting Phoenix Academy said there was a "culture of low expectations" at the school, with "weak teaching" and leaders and governors who have "failed to act decisively" to address declining standards. The report was also critical of pupils at the Duce Drive site, saying attendance is "well below average", behaviour during lessons is "inadequate" and GSCE results are well below the national average.
The team which visited Lakeside said learning was often disrupted because "too many students misbehave in lessons".
The report for the Stirchley school said some students "did not feel safe" in all areas of the academy because of the "behaviour of a few students" and said the concern was "not tackled urgently" by academy leaders.
The Phoenix and Lakeside reports both conclude by saying: "Her Majesty's Chief Inspector is of the opinion that this school requires special measures because it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school."
All four schools converted to academies in 2013, giving leaders more power over their day-to-day running away from council control.
Telford Co-operative Multi Academy Trust (TCMAT) chairman Peter Lawley said: "Telford Co-operative Multi Academy Trust was seen as an innovative way of providing an educational base for children in the borough who were attending Sutherland and Wrockwardine Wood schools – which were merging to become a new school from September 2015 – together with Phoenix and Lakeside schools, which were both suffering from falling school rolls.
"Phoenix had opened on a new site, and a commitment had been made to build a new school in Stirchley (Lakeside) to replace the former Lord Silkin School.
"The GCSE results for all four schools last summer fell below the Government 'floor target' for GCSE passes, which triggered Ofsted inspections the following February.
"It has resulted in all four schools being placed in special measures, being deemed inadequate.
"TCMAT pays tribute to the very hard working staff, governing bodies and lay directors who have contributed so much since the inception of the trust.
"We are naturally very disappointed that the outcomes for students and communities, despite their best efforts, have not been better.
"After September 2014, all the schools took immediate and robust steps to improve their performance, and have continued to do so ever since.
"Actions to address identified weaknesses are continuing.
"A proposed new sponsor for all four schools has now been identified, and is already working with the trust in order to achieve the vision that the existing trust has been unable to fulfil.
"The sponsor will take over the schools from September."
Labour parliamentary candidate David Wright, hoping to retain his seat at next month's general election, said there were "world-class buildings and learning environments" for young people in Telford.
He added: "We need to rally round these schools and support them as much as we can to ensure that we secure a bright future for Telford youngsters.
"I think pupils and teachers will respond positively."
Conservative candidate Lucy Allan said the academy model was not to blame, despite three of the four schools being rated as "good" by Ofsted before switching status.
She said: "I don't accept the academy model is flawed. My understanding is Wrockwardine Wood school failed due to the behaviour in the classroom of a small minority of children preventing the learning of others. I think that this is an issue we must crack down on."
Denis Allen, the Ukip candidate for Telford, said the decision in particular to embark on a new build with Lakeside Academy was ill-judged.
"I feel sorry for the students at these schools," he said.
"It's their lives, and the quality of their lives, that depends on their education.
"If they are not being prepared properly, and have possibly been de-motivated by this, it's going to be a blight on their lives.
"My big complaint is with Lakeside School. There was no requirement for it.
"It was a terrible decision by Telford & Wrekin Council to build Lakeside when it had absolutely no chance of succeeding."
All four schools converted to academies in 2013, giving leaders more power over their running away from council control.
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