Concern as academy seeks new sponsor

Published on: 23 Nov 2016

HUNDREDS of parents, staff and students turned out to a Save our School meeting after trusteesof the Ridings Federation announced that the academy was seeking a new sponsor.
The chair of trustees, Claire Emery, has said that “re-brokering” Winterbourne International Academy and its partner school in Yate is necessary because the schools, which are facing a £1m deficit by the end of the academic year, cannot sort out their problems quickly enough on their own.
In a letter to parents, she said: “It is in everyone’s interest that the Ridings Federation can secure rapid and sustained improvement for the benefit of our students within the necessary timescale.”
Trustees are working with the Regional Schools Commissioner Rebecca Clark and say the academies will transfer, together or separately, no later than the start of the next academic year in September 2017.
The meeting on November 22 was told that two potential sponsors had expressed an interest in the Winterbourne academy - the national chain Oasis and a collaboration of the two local trusts, Olympus and CSET.
Greenshaw Learning Trust, based in the south east, is the only bidder for Yate International Academy.
History teacher Lee Everson told the meeting there was “palpable alarm and concern” among staff, who had seen Oasis executives being given  a tour of the academy before the announcement of re-brokering had been made. Oasis and other interested parties are now carrying out “due diligence” checks before deciding if they would like to pursue their bids.
Some parents expressed worries that Oasis, which runs 50 schools including severa in Bristol, was not a suitable sponsor.
A sixth-former was applauded when he said the chain had no experience in running a school the size of Winterbourne and had no experience running a successful sixth form.
Several people at the meeting said that if the only choice was another multi-academy trust they would prefer it to be locally based.
Parents were urged to write to their MP Jack Lopresti and to make sure their views were heard. The development follows two further blows for the federation last month.
Mrs Emery announced that chief executive principal Adam Williams, who joined less than a year ago and has been off sick, would not be returning.
Meanwhile, an Ofsted monitoring visit by Her Majesty’s Inspector James Sage said the Winterbourne academy, rated as requiring improvement a year ago, was not getting better fast enough. despite being South Gloucestershire's highest attaining school last year.

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