West Gate School: Academy plan shelved after campaign

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West Gate SchoolImage source, Google
Image caption,
Unions, staff and the local MP had joined together to fight the plans

Trade unions and staff are celebrating after plans to turn a Leicester school into an academy were shelved.

West Gate School, which has special educational needs pupils, was served an academy order by the government in 2018 after being rated "inadequate".

Unison said most problems had been addressed, with the school now rated as "good", and a potential academy group had no experience of special needs.

One parent said the school had seen "huge improvement".

The government has the power to demand 'inadequate' schools become academies as it considers this the best way to support the school in improving.

Proposed sponsor

West Gate School, which supports pupils aged 4-19 with moderate to severe learning difficulties, achieved its improved rating this year after replacing its board of governors, headteacher and deputy headteacher.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said governors, headteacher, the local teaching unions and MP for Leicester West, Liz Kendall, then united to have the academy order revoked.

They pointed out the original proposed sponsor had pulled out and the replacement only has one school, which itself is failing.

Ms Kendall had also written to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to request a rethink.

'Real change'

The Department for Education has now made the decision to overturn the academy order, allowing the school to remain under the control of Leicester City Council.

The united unions said: "This is a brilliant outcome for the school, and testament to the hard work of staff, leadership and the governing body."

One parent, district judge Nahied Asjad, said: "My daughter has been a student at West Gate School since 2016.

"The last three years has seen a period of real change.

"There are now better safeguarding practices in place and there has been a huge improvement in the quality of teaching and the way in which the personal development and behaviour of children is managed."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "West Gate's request for its academy order to be revoked has been granted in light of Ofsted's most recent judgement and additional evidence provided by the school.

"Our position remains that underperforming schools with an inadequate Ofsted rating should become academies to gain the support of a strong academy trust and secure sustained improvement."

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