Primary school dropped by academy trust

Southgate Primary School
Southgate Primary School

An academy trust has dropped plans to take over the running of Southgate Primary after the school was placed in special measures.

The school, in Barrington Road, was due to become part of the University of Brighton Academies Trust after an academy order was granted in September 2016.
A two-day inspection by Ofsted at the end of November saw Southgate’s rating drop from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’ and the trust has since announced it was “not in a position to meet the needs” required by the school.
The trust took over the running of Pound Hill Infant Academy in 2015 and Desmond Anderson school, in Tilgate, earlier this month.
The former was rated ‘outstanding’ shortly before being taken over by the trust, while the latter was rated ‘good’ in 2012.
A trust spokesman said: “Our strategy for development and school improvement is based on the principles of school-to-school support.
“We take a measured approach to expansion, ensuring that we can meet the needs of those schools wishing to join us and that there is an appropriate balance of outstanding, good and under-performing schools within the university’s trust.
“Taking into account the support needs of its other academies, the trust’s board of directors concluded that it was not in a position to meet the needs of Southgate Primary School at the present time.”
Headteacher Tom O’Donoghue left the school at the end of 2016 and has been replaced by interim head Bob Twells.
Questions to the school about the trust’s decision to drop Southgate Primary were deflected to West Sussex County Council.
A spokesman said: “It is not the school’s place to comment on why the trust pulled out. The local authority does not comment on decisions made by independent bodies such as academy trusts. Neither the school nor the local authority were privy to the trust’s decision.”
Regarding the possible search for a new academy sponsor, the spokesman said the decision would be made by the government’s regional schools commissioner.”
Looking to the future the spokesman said Mr Twells was working with the support of an “experienced and highly” capable Interim Executive Board (IEB).
He added: “The focus of the work for the headteacher, the IEB and the local authority is on those aspects of the school that were found to need improvement by Ofsted in the inspection. These key issues are now being strengthened and the school has been through a review of its safeguarding processes, which are now strong.”
Ofsted will inspect the school within six months to ensure it was on track to come out of special measures.
The spokesman added: “With the work being put in and with the positive support of the school’s staff and parents, we are confident that this will be the case.”

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