Government re-think called for on Moulsecoomb academy plan

Councillors on a key committee in Brighton & Hove want the government to think again about its plan to privatise Moulsecoomb Primary School in Brighton by forcing it to become an academy.

Councillors across all three political groups on the children, young people and skills committee voted unanimously to call on the government’s Regional Schools Commissioner to consider improved standards as grounds for revoking the order.

The Commissioner’s decision to privatise the school followed an Ofsted inspection that rated the schools as ‘inadequate’.

Outcomes

However, the same report noted that:

  • outcomes for pupils are rising in both key stage 1 and early years
  • the council’s education team had provided a comprehensive package of support for the school
  • many parents had spoken positively about the school.

Councillors agreed that becoming an academy was not necessary to improve standards at the school. 

They have called on Ofsted to re-inspect the school in the autumn and see for themselves that issues around performance at key stage 2 have been addressed.

They have also asked council education officers to conduct a ballot of parents and carers of children at the school on whether they are in favour of the forced conversion of the school to a private academy trust.

Strength of feeling

Committee chair Nick Childs said: “We’ve united across political divides to call on the Regional Schools Commissioner to reconsider his decision to privatise Moulsecoomb Primary School. 

“This shows the strength of feeling on this issue and I’m delighted we’re working together for the good of the school.

“This decision has been taken without any consultation with the school, its parents, the local community or the council. I believe this is simply unacceptable.

“Nobody I know who has read the Ofsted report thinks the ‘inadequate’ judgement makes sense.

“Ofsted’s own report acknowledges that standards are rising at all levels below key stage 2.

Working hard

“Everyone connected with the school is very confident that the new data we will get this summer will show that performance at key stage 2 is also improving at an acceptable rate.

“The headteacher and his team are working hard and successfully to improve the school. 

“We believe stopping this process through an unnecessary privatisation plan would be extremely damaging for pupils, parents and staff at the school.” 

Further information

The motion agreed by the committee is as follows:

“This Committee notes that an order for academisation of Moulsecoomb Primary School was imposed by the Regional School’s Commissioner on behalf of the Secretary of State. 

“On the conversion date Brighton & Hove City Council shall cease to maintain the school and will be forced to transfer land and buildings occupied by the school to an academy trust chosen by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) on behalf of the Department of Education. 

“This Committee notes the extensive support being provided to the School by the Council and does not believe that an Academy sponsor is necessary to improve the standards of the school. 

“This committee opposes the privatisation of schools, and the imposition of academy orders against the will of the local community.

“The Committee instructs the officers to conduct a ballot of parents and carers of children on roll at Moulsecoomb Primary School on the question of whether they are in favour of or oppose the forced conversion of the School to an academy trust selected by the Regional Schools Commissioner. 

“The result of the ballot should be shared with the Regional Schools Commissioner and will be published on the council website and communicated to parents. 

“The Committee invites the RSC to consider inviting Ofsted to reinspect the school with a view to considering improved standards. 

“The Committee notes the efforts being made to improve the standards of the school and calls upon the Regional Schools Commissioner to consider improved standards as grounds for revoking the order.”