Troubled school rues day it became grant-maintained

Sue Learner

A FOUNDATION school in Derbyshire may be the first to return to local authority control after a turbulent period of self-management.

While a number of schools in the country are clamouring to change to foundation status, which means governors rather than the council are teachers' employers, Repton primary in Repton, Derby has opted to return to the fold of the authority.

Eight years ago, the school opted out of council control and became grant-maintained. When GM schools were abolished by the Labour Government, it automatically became a foundation school.

In 1999, the school was found by inspectors to have serious weaknesses. Following a breakdown in staffing relationships and financial problems, the governors decided to hold a parental ballot over returning to full local-authority control.

Chair of governors, Tim Daffern said: "When the school was grant-maintained, it was on its own and standards slipped. After changing to foundation status, the local education authority got more involved and said we had to address the problems of poor educational standards."

Mr Daffern, who has been a governor for two-and-a-half years, added: "We will miss absolutely nothing about being a foundation school. I am not saying the LEA will be a panacea but it will give more support to the school than we can provide."

He credits Derbyshire for the school's improved results at key stages 1 and 2.

Council cabinet member for education, Alan Charles, said: "There has been much debate recently about the future role of the private sector in education - however, we believe that the level of expertise and support provided to Repton primary school could never have been replicated in the private sector.

"There is a new sense of optimism at the school and parents should be reassured that the school faces a very promising future."

The school's new headteacher, Vivien Hyde, who takes up her post in September, said: "I believe that becoming a community school is the way forward. Working closely with the LEA has helped the school get back on track."

A total of 90 per cent of parents voted for the school to return to LEA control. The ballot will be considered next month by the council's school organisation committee which will make a final decision on the school's status.

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Sue Learner

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