Anger at Lewisham Council for £250k grant to Childeric Primary set to become an academy

BY CALUM FRASER
calum@slpmedia.co.uk

Teachers are outraged that town hall chiefs are funnelling cash into a school that is going to become an academy.

Lewisham council rubber-stamped a decision to direct a Government grant, of about £250,000, to Childeric Primary school, which is set to become an academy in September.

Teachers from nearby local authority (LA) maintained schools are unhappy at the decision as they believe it rewards schools who opt out of council oversight, while punishing schools who maintain their links with the LA.

Duncan Morrison, staff governor and teacher at Deptford Park Primary school, said: “It’s a scandal. I would urge the council to investigate any way they can change this decision.

The message they are giving to schools that leave their oversight is ‘well done, here’s a quarter of a million pounds.’”

The council rubber-stamped the grant at a mayor and cabinet meeting on July 11. The sum was a ring-fenced grant from the Department for Education for improvements to the school building.

Mr Morrison, who is also a assistant divisional secretary for the National Education Union, said: “We find it beyond belief that the council cannot control these funds and direct them to schools who want to remain in the LA control.

“There’s loads of LA maintained schools who are desperate for this kind of cash. “We want to keep schools together and benefit from the council’s oversight.”

Childeric is set to close as a community school on August 31 and open as a converter academy at the beginning of September as part of the Communitas multi-academy trust.

Academies are state-funded schools in England which are directly funded by the DfE and independent of local authority control. A spokesman for the Lewisham branch of the National Union of Teachers said: “Lewisham NUT finds the council’s plan to pay for an academy’s roof strange and unjustified.

“This week we learnt that Wide Horizons is to close its nine outdoor education sites due to financial issues. “The governors of this school decided Lewisham doesn’t do enough for them and that they would be better off becoming a private company.”

A Lewisham council spokeswoman said: “Childeric Primary School was a local authority (LA) maintained community school on April 1, 2018 when the ring-fenced DfE school condition grant was issued.

We use independent professional building surveys to determine need and priority for improvement works. These surveys adopt the DfE’s standards for categorising required works.

“In effect, the LA does not have discretion to distinguish between schools who are staying with the LA and those who are moving away, however counter-intuitive that might seem.”


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