Academy issues are discussed by county council
Northumberland County Council cannot intervene directly, but '˜is not powerless' to act following Berwick Academy's damning Ofsted report.
At a full council meeting, Coun Wayne Daley, the cabinet member for children’s services, set out the steps the local authority is taking in light of the school being placed in special measures.
It was in response to a question from Berwick East councillor Georgina Hill, who pointed out that the scathing report had given the academy the lowest grading in every category and found that pupils ‘had been put at risk through serious disciplinary and safeguarding failings’.
“As you are probably aware, we share your concerns about Berwick Academy,” Coun Daley said. “However, the law does make it impossible for us to intervene in the affairs at an academy unless we are invited by the chairman of trustees (David Cairns) and/or the Regional Schools Commissioner (who is responsible for academies in the area). This does not mean we are powerless.”
A meeting for all the Berwick headteachers and chairmen of governors has taken place to discuss the wider issues, while another is to take place soon to try to draw up an action plan.
The council’s director of education and Coun Daley have raised concerns with the chairman of trustees at Berwick Academy, the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Several safeguarding complaints – which are in the council’s remit – have been investigated and it was ‘found that the academy has applied all the correct policies and procedures in relation to the individual complaints made, but we will continue to investigate safeguarding matters on a case-by-case basis’.
Coun Daley added: “We are doing all within our statutory power to improve the education and life chances in the Berwick area. I spoke to the MP, because quite frankly I’m not able to accept failure in Berwick as I’m sure other members are not either.”
He also agreed to a meeting with the Regional Schools Commissioner and the three councillors for Berwick to discuss the issues further.
Ben O’Connell , Local Democracy Reporting Service