Parents call for Church MAT chief to go in headteacher redundancy row

Campaigners call for school to be rebrokered after MAT directors resign

John Roberts

Parents are campaigning against the removal of Swinford Primary headteacher

Parents protesting against plans to remove a primary school headteacher’s job have called for a multi-academy trust (MAT) chief executive to go following the resignation of trust directors over the issue.

The non-executive directors at the Diocese of Leicester Academies Trust (DLAT) quit following a meeting with the Bishop of Leicester in which he questioned plans for a restructure affecting Swinford Primary School.

DLAT is set to make Swinford Primary headteacher Edy O’Connor redundant and plans to replace the role with an executive head overseeing two schools.

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The Save Our Head parents' campaign group protesting against this move has held a vote of no confidence in the trust and called for their school to be rebrokered out of DLAT.

It has now written to John Edwards, regional schools commissioner for East Midlands and the Humber, calling for DLAT’s chief executive Donna Moulds to be removed following the resignation of the directors.

The letter from the parents' spokesperson Katherine Clarke said: “It is our belief that DLAT is currently not an entity without a board, and the CEO must be removed from office.

“This is an issue that requires urgent resolution for the pupils of schools across DLAT and poses questions about the ability of it to operate without any leadership.

“We believe the correct approach would be for the schools currently within DLAT to be taken back into local authority control while alternative arrangements are made for their governance.”

The letter also calls for the process of making Mr O’Connor redundant to be halted.

And it says that a proposed merger between DLAT and Oval Learning Trust should also be put on hold following the DLAT directors' resignation. Ms Moulds is the chief executive of both MATs.

However, the Leicester Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) announced today that interim directors had been appointed to DLAT.

Diocesan director of education, Canon Carolyn Lewis, said the new directors would be inviting Swinford School governors to meet with them early next week. They would also "as soon as possible" set a date to meet the primary's staff, parents and governors to "discuss the next steps for the school – which like most small rural schools faces serious sustainability challenges", she said.

“It is important to clarify that the DBE’s role is as [a] Member of DLAT. Members of an academy trust appoint directors to the academy trust, and are not permitted in law to run or direct them," Canon Lewis added.

"Once the Members have appointed directors, it is those directors who have full responsibility in running the academy trust. Neither the DBE nor the Bishop have powers to insist on any decisions or particular course of action by any academy trust, but they do, of course, expect trusts to operate in a manner consistent with the Diocesan vision and values in serving both Church and community.”

The resignation of DLAT's board was revealed earlier this week by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, after a meeting to discuss the trust's plans for Swinford School.

He said that he had asked DLAT directors to meet him to “seek reassurance that they are ‘serving both Church and community’ and acting in accordance with the vision and values of the Diocese of Leicester”. The resignations followed this meeting.

South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa has also been involved in the case and is set to raise the matter in Parliament with education secretary Damian Hinds.

The Department for Education said earlier this week that Swinford Primary School being rebrokered would have to be agreed with the school’s existing trust.

DLAT and Oval Learning Trust have been approached for comment.

DLAT has previously issued a statement saying it was having to “adapt and evolve our approach to address the financial challenges that we face".

The trust added: "This means that there are some very difficult and challenging decisions that need to be addressed. These are not decisions that we take lightly, or in isolation. We would like to thank our community for making their views heard so clearly."

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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