Friday, November 5, 2010

Community Consultation on Tidemill becoming an Academy

Whatever your views on the government's plans to encourage local community schools to opt out of local authority control by becoming privately run Academies, you might want to know this:

The new development in Giffin Street has cost almost £20m, some £11m of which has come from Lewisham council tax payers, the rest coming from the government (which includes Lewisham taxpayers). The school has been an integral part of the council's plans to rejuvenate community resources in the centre of Deptford and £10m of the overall cost has gone into the construction of the school, £2.5m of which has come from government. 

If the school becomes an Academy, the new building that has cost Lewisham council tax payers £7.5m, may well be handed over on a 125 year lease to a private trust for a peppercorn rent.

Background to consultation:

When we first heard a month ago that there was to be consultation with the community on Tidemill becoming an Academy, we went to the school's website to find out more. There was nothing about the school's intentions on the home page, but information was hidden away on a News & Events page. There we found an invitation to download some documents that would explain the pros and cons. But the links did not work.

Those links finally started working last week. We read that the Academy Consultation document, which explains how the new Academy would work, would be widely distributed within the local area, including The Albany, Deptford Project and Wavelengths Library. It was not. The document also stated there was an appendix at the end containing questions and answers provided by the government. This appendix did not exist. The document is directed at 'Parent & Carers' with no mention of the community. The last page of the document was intended as a feedback page that had to be printed out, filled in by hand, and handed in to the school office. School office hours were not given and the school does not have a postbox. There was no digital version available (eg a Word document that people could fill in and email back) although an email address was provided.

However, we are pleased to see the school has finally got its act together and the school website has now been updated.

Academy Consultation: Deadline 15th November

The home page now has a direct link to an Academy Consultation page, and you can download the various documents – the most important being the Parent & Carer Academy Consultation document referred to above (still no mention of the community). You can then fill in an online form on this page to give your comments and feedback. The deadline is November 15th.

There is also the option to download the form and fill it in by hand as before. You may also email, as before, the Chair of Governors to ask any questions you may have that you don't feel are answered in the Consultation document.

Meanwhile, the Saying No campaign has provided a short "They Say, We Say" document that expands on the wider implications of some of the Consultation document's claims. This may help inform your opinion or raise queries to put to the school governors (see bottom of this post). 

It should be noted that none of this consultation would have taken place without the efforts of the Saying No campaign (which is opposed to Academy status). Those campaigners have been threatened by the school with police action and the school has written to parents, reporting the campaign as threatening the safety of the school's children and as holding "aggressive meetings that resulted in verbal abuse", none of which is true.

The school's own consultation meeting with its parents was poorly attended. Parents perhaps remain unaware of the true consequences of the choice presented to them. Many parents do not have English as a first language and, if the poor translations provided on the document requesting those parents to contact the school office are anything to go by, they will remain uninformed. No translations of the document are offered on the school's Consultation page. However, Saying No has provided rough translations on their site.

Other opposition to the school's Academy status comes from Lewisham Councillors and the architects involved in the new building design.

Tidemill's Academy Consultation page
Parent & Carer Academy Consultation document (download from this blog)
Academy Consultation 'They Say, We Say' (download from this blog)

If you feel strongly about this and want to write directly to the Chair of Governors to be sure your view is heard (and not lost in the online ether) you might want to copy your email to:,,,,,,


1 comment:

  1. The chair of governors has apparently stated that the consultation documents were only offline over a weekend - the comments on the post(address below) belie the honesty of that assertion. A poster pointed out that the links were dead 3 days before the date given by the ''official line.''