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Parents’ anger as senior staff step down in academy trust row

PUBLISHED: 12:57 03 October 2018

Nardeep Sharma has left his role at Thrive Partnership Academy Trust Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

Nardeep Sharma has left his role at Thrive Partnership Academy Trust Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

Archant

Parents of children attending Essex schools led by a troubled academy trust have been left disappointed after senior staff left without answering questions over their leadership.

The Thrive Academy Partnership Trust, which runs Philip Morant School in Colchester and Colne Community School in Brightlingsea, announced Nardeep Sharma left his position as chief executive on Sunday. The trust also said Catherine Hutley left her position as executive principal on August 31.

Both staff had been suspended pending an investigation in April.

The trust has been asked for details about the investigation - but has yet to respond.

The two schools had been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, with inspectors criticising poor leadership and pupil progress.

Colchester MP Will Quince and Harwich and North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin had written to the Education Secretary about parents’ concerns.

One parent with children at Colne Community School, speaking anonymously, said the school suffered under the trust’s leadership.

She claimed pupils had to share textbooks, parents had to buy learning materials and many classes were led by teaching assistants to save money.

“The outcomes for children in these schools were not great,” she added. “We’ve had an entire generation of children failed.”

With no information about the investigation, she said many parents were disappointed.

“It would be nice to draw a line under it and move on but that’s quite hard to do if there’s no information about what’s happened,” she said.

The trust said replacements for the two staff were not being sought as it was going through a re-brokering process.

“The Sigma Trust is taking over the management of the Philip Morant School and College and the Colne Community School and College. This process is expected to be completed by the end of 2018,” it added.

The Department for Education said ministers had agreed to find alternative sponsors for both schools.

“In the meantime, Regional Schools Commissioner Sue Baldwin is working closely with the trust to minimise disruption for pupils and staff,” a spokesman added.

The Government would not comment on what would happen about Mr Sharma’s OBE for services to education.

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