Sudbury: Concerned parents ask awkward questions of academy trust
PUBLISHED: 09:41 11 May 2012 | UPDATED: 14:28 11 May 2012
A CHARITABLE trust due to take over management of one of west Suffolk's biggest upper schools has faced a barrage of awkward questions from more than 100 concerned parents.
Sudbury Upper School is set to become an academy sponsored by the Ormiston Trust from September but parents were officially told of the plans in an e-mail just three weeks ago.
The trust already has 18 academies across the UK including one in Ipswich and another in Great Yarmouth.
A meeting, which is the only official public consultation event, over-ran as worried parents fought to secure answers to their concerns during the allotted time.
Ormiston Trust chairman, Peter Murray, the school’s newly-appointed headteacher, Caroline Wilson, and chairman of school governors Ann Pizzey all spoke of their vision to make the school into a “centre of excellence”.
They fielded questions on everything from the cost of uniforms and transport from rural areas, to financial agreements and legal contracts. It was also revealed that the new facility will be called Ormiston Sudbury Academy.
Although the commitment of current staff, the trust and governors was not in doubt, most parents who attended the meeting were looking for guarantees about the future of the school’s curriculum and it assets.
However, many said they left the meeting without any hard evidence that the school would be better off.
Sudbury town councillor Nigel Bennett attended the meeting because he was concerned about what might happen to the school’s sports centre, which is currently open to the public.
He said: “Under the agreement, the freehold for the buildings and land, including the sports centre and sports fields will be transferred from the local education authority to the Ormiston Trust, so Suffolk County Council will not have any say if the trust eventually wants to sell these assets or close the sports centre down.”
Parents who asked questions about finances for the new academy were told the content of funding agreements between the Government and the trust would not be available for public view, until after they have been signed.
Following the meeting, parents were asked to register questions at a consultation website, www.proposedacademy.co.uk/Sudbury.