The petition of residents of Felixstowe, Suffolk Coastal and the wider Suffolk area,
Declares that the most recent Ofsted report for Felixstowe Academy declares it as an ‘Inadequate’ school and that the Academy has been placed into ‘Special Measures’; further notes Ofsted’s damning summary that outcomes for pupils are below the government’s floor standards; that Special Education Needs pupils do not make adequate progress; that there is a culture of bullying at the school that has not been dealt with effectively; that too many parents have lost faith in the school’s ability to deal with that bullying; that too many pupils are persistently absent; and that the support provided by the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) has been ineffective in helping the school to improve since the previous inspection.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to remove the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) from the management of Felixstowe Academy so the school can have a fresh start under new leadership for the benefit of pupils.
And the petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Dr Thérèse Coffey, Official Report, 13 June 2018; Vol.642, c.8P.]
Observations from the Minister for School Standards (Nick Gibb):
The Government understand, and share, the concerns of the petitioners.
In cases such as Felixstowe Academy we take the action needed to ensure that pupils get the education they deserve. This includes consideration of all options, including a change in the trust running the academy where we deem that necessary. At the heart of our decision making is determining which measures will drive improvement quickly, and therefore best serve the interests of the academies’ students.
As a result of the Education and Adoption Act 2016, regardless of the terms in an academy’s funding agreement, the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), on behalf of the Secretary of State, can terminate the funding agreement of an academy that has been judged inadequate. However, this is a power rather than a duty. Rebrokerage can be a disruptive process for an academy, so the benefits of a new sponsor for the academy need to be carefully weighed against the possibility of progress stalling.
In the case of Felixstowe Academy, we issued a ‘Minded to Terminate’ notice to Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) on 7 March. This set out our concerns about Ofsted’s findings and our expectations of the trust to ensure they address these urgently. We have been in regular dialogue with the local MP, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) won this issue, and we will continue to work fully with her to meet the needs of her constituents.