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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Bright Tribe: We are not gambling with children’s futures

An education trust at the heart of school merger plans for Workington has insisted it is up to the job.

Stainburn school photo
Stainburn school

Bright Tribe was responding to criticism that it has no track record of running an academy and that education bosses were “gambling” with children’s futures.

Stainburn and Southfield are due to merge as early as September, prompting fierce criticism from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) who claimed they were being kept out of the loop.

But speaking after a meeting with staff from both schools, Joe Smith, chief operating officer for Bright Tribe, said: “We are clearly up to the job. We want to work with the unions now we have a formal place at the table which we have only had since February 6. Up until then we were just people who wanted to do something.”

The NUT has claimed that staff, parents and children are being railroaded into the merger without proper consultation.

But Mr Smith said the trust had not been in a position to move forward until governors from both schools had agreed to convert to academy status.

“Letters will be going out in the next few days to the parents of both schools and also to prospective parents.

“We didn’t give them a blueprint because there is not a blueprint for the building.

“But we have a clear idea how we can effect the move.”

He added: “What we did on Tuesday was very much a first step in the process.

Employees are very naturally concerned about the academisation and the merger and what that means for jobs. One of the reasons we want to move this forward as quickly as we possibly can is to remove that uncertainty.”

A formal consultation cannot start until the Secretary of State for Education has signed off on the application to convert.

Mr Smith admitted that Bright Tribe was a new organisation with no track record of running academies.

“On one level they are absolutely correct: Bright Tribe is an organisation that registered to be an academy trust in October.”

But he also said that the trust had worked closely with both schools in the past and that Bright Tribe’s director has 40 years of experience in education.

Bright Tribe has also revealed the new academy would ultimately be based at Stainburn.

Mr Smith said: “The two schools have a substantial in-house deficit year on year. This is a situation where the concept of a single school on a single site is needed.”

The move would be achieved over three years after which the Southfield site would be handed back to the local authority.

Town council leader Gerald Humes, who resigned from the board of governors at Southfield Technology College over the plans, is concerned the site on Moorclose Road would become derelict.

“They have rushed too much and they haven’t thought about the consequences for Moorclose. There is no plan B.”

He believes that a site near Chaucer Road, already earmarked for development, would be more suitable, and is concerned for the future of the local library.

Have your say

it seems the schools are going ahead without taking parents views onboard going by the meeting at southfield on tuesday.

Posted by alun james on 5 March 2013 at 13:34

Two words RICHARD ROSE.

Posted by penny on 25 February 2013 at 20:54

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