How not to set up an academy

13th January 2006 at 00:00
The attempt by the Emmanuel Schools Foundation to subdue young people at the new Trinity academy in Doncaster seems to have hit stormy waters ("Protest at harsh rules that turn children in to 'zombies'", TES, January 6). This is no surprise to anyone who knew Emmanuel's predecessor school Thorne grammar and the community it served.

Doncaster local education authority ran a feeble consultation exercise before establishing the academy. Parents were given no hint about what kind of regime the sponsors would enforce. The exercise produced 76 responses, with only 21 from parents. On the basis of this underwhelming support the mayor pushed the proposal through.

The sponsors made no attempt to involve parents in meaningful discussion about what they wanted but imposed their ethos, religious views, uniform and draconian discipline code without consultation.

Parents would have agreed to strong sanctions for such offences as disruptive behaviour, bullying, or bringing in weapons or drugs. They would not have readily agreed to long detentions for having your top button undone or permanent exclusions for two offences of smoking.

The sponsors' contempt for the local community also included an insistence that a thriving youth club on "their site" should be closed along with the local adult education centre. Parents and councillors have been given no place in the first tier of governance of the academy.

Trinity is a classic example of how not to set up an academy and how not to get the community behind you.

The sponsors found it easy to gain control by paying pound;2 million but totally failed to win the hearts and minds of pupils and parents. That is something that money cannot buy.

Tony Brookes Headteacher Thorne grammar school 1987-2002 Windyridge,Thorne, Doncaster

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