If there was ever any likelihood that the Interim Executive Board of Cavell Primary and Nursery School were acting in the school’s best interests, it surely disappeared today, when they published a document that amounted to little more than a disingenuous attack on the parents whose school they have stolen. The lies and distortions are too many to debunk individually, but this is intended to address some of the more glaring misrepresentations.
The IEB claim that they have no hidden agenda, and that they have always kept an open mind on the best outcome for the school. This is contradicted by their own decision paper, in which they said
“The IEB has revisited all the information that has been received from different quarters and it has had to consider the inevitability of the statement made by the DfE and the LA that irrespective of a decision made by the IEB the school will become an academy.”
Their own words demonstrate that they were told to reach a particular conclusion, and unsurprisingly did what they were told.
They also appear to dwell excessively on the details of the Co-Operative Trust’s attempt to secure a judicial review of their actions. It seems they believe it sufficient that their actions are legal, or more accurately, not shown to be illegal, a line which is also used to excuse their woefully inadequate consultation. Apparently, concepts such as morality and democracy have completely passed them by. David Lennard Jones might also be expected to remember his own criticism of Essex County Council, when acting as Schools Adjudicator to overturn their closure of Deanes School, that:
“The council failed to engage with the school about the three potential options for moving forward and presented the school with the decision that had been made.”
The parallels with his own behaviour towards parents are striking and revealing.
The IEB say that they have been entirely open and honest about everything throughout this process. Maybe they could explain why several members of staff were forced to come to our public meeting just to find out what was going on. Maybe they could also explain their refusal to answer daily emails throughout their consultation. We asked for unremarkable assurances that our views could have any effect, due to a suspicion (well-founded, it seems) that it was nothing but a sham. They did not give those assurances, neither did they respond in the negative. They simply ignored repeated emails on this subject, for a whole fortnight. Hardly transparent.
On the subject of the consultation, they attempt to portray all dissent as the behaviour of a handful of malcontents. If the IEB want clear evidence that they do not speak for parents, the school had no trouble getting record support for the Co-operative Trust proposal not so long ago, and our petition gathered thousands of signatures. But the IEB must also take some blame for any parent apathy – or rather, failure to explicitly insist that they do not want an academy.
The IEB’s words and actions have clearly shown that they don’t care about our views, they refused to give any confirmation that our responses to their consultation could have any effect on the school’s future, and they didn’t even deign to ask whether we wanted the school to become an academy – presumably in order to avoid an embarrassing result like the 92% parent opposition in our own consultation. They have repeatedly refused to offer parents a ballot – and indeed continue to do so in this report – so have no right to complain if they think there is insufficient evidence of parents’ numerical opposition.
Not content with counting any non-respondents as support for an academy, they are also keen to dismiss anyone who objects to an academy in the wrong way. They speak of “personal attacks” (easily claimed, though no evidence is offered), but given that they consider questions about their accountability and whose interests they are serving to be beyond the pale and unworthy of a response, their opinion on this matter is somewhat suspect. Their statement that this does not contribute to a mature discussion is laughable – there is no discussion, and never has been, because the IEB have ensured it by their actions and their partial, question-begging consultation. If they genuinely want an open discussion without preconceptions, they are more than welcome to one.
Most breathtakingly, the IEB assert that the school is not being forced to become an academy. This is undeniably, incontrovertibly wrong. The governors were sacked in an irregular manner on a dubious pretext for the crime of not considering that an academy would be in the school’s best interests, the will of Gove is being carried out by their handpicked replacements, and the views of the clear majority are being ignored in service of dogma. If the IEB doubt that the majority are opposed to their actions, they’re very welcome to hold their own ballot to confirm it.
Not content with taking taxpayers’ money to force a school to become an academy against the clearly expressed will of staff, parents and the community as a whole, the IEB have now branched out into crudely attacking anyone who stands in their way, handing out passive-aggressive insults and insisting that anyone who opposes them is simply a noisy outlier. Even by the past standards of Gove’s academy agenda, this is a new low.