King Edward VII School: Parents protest over controversial academy plans

Parents of pupils studying in King Edward VII School (KES) protested at Sheffield City Hall on Saturday, fighting the takeover by an academy trust.

KES, which has sites in Broomhall and Crosspool, was rated “inadequate” by Ofsted after an inspection last September. This triggered forced academisation run by Brigantia Learning Trust, which a large group of parents opposed to.

Dave Clay, the first speaker at the protest, said: “We’re in this position because of a highly suspect inspection which seemed to be based on someone forming an opinion about what was going to happen, then looking for evidence to support that opinion.

“It seems as though King Edward’s is chosen by people because it’s a good school, in particular chosen by people whose children require some extra care. Parents of those children disproportionately seek out King Ted’s because it’s a caring school.”

Today, the Department for Education’s Yorkshire and the Humber advisory board have their meeting discussing whether the school joins Brigantia or not. No parents or staff members are allowed to join today’s meeting.

Speaking on Saturday, Mark Boylan, a parent of a pupil and professor of Education at Hallam University, said: “Five people made the judgement.

“We got two officers that came to our meeting and told parents that they would inform us when the decision was made. And they did not. They washed their hands of it and said to the and said to the unions they didn’t know until the agenda came out.”

Brigantia manages 4,000 students across its five schools, including a nursery, a primary school, one six-form college, and two academies. KES itself already has 1,800 students.

Emma Wilkinson, 43, a freelance journalist and also a parent of a pupil in KES, said: “We wanted a say. We wanted them to consult with parents. We wanted to have our views heard when the academy trust was selected.”

The capacity of Brigantia to take on another large school, while managing schools needing improvement, is being concerned.

Ms Wilkinson said: “Brigantia doesn’t have a track record of improving schools or turning around schools. We found out that there is a very very high turnover of staff.

“The senior leadership in Yewlands has been pretty much entirely replaced in the past year. All these things questioned whether this academy trust is managing existing schools well.”

Written by Elim Lau

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