THE new trust running the troubled Whitehaven Academy has hit back at criticism from parents and pupils in an eight-page letter.

Cumbria Education Trust (CET) took over the school from Bright Tribe last week and yesterday it sent parents and carers a letter responding to concerns raised at a public meeting last month.

But the Whitehaven Academy Action group said the letter did the exact opposite of “engaging with the community.”

The letter by Debbie Francis, chair of trust board and Lorrayne Hughes, CEO, said: “The aim is now to work towards repairing damaged relationships, building trust and confidence and proving that CET will operate in a manner that is fair, honest and transparent.”

The packed-audience at last month’s meeting heard claims that Warren Turner, former headteacher, had not voluntarily left his post. It was also alleged that attempts had been made by CET to recruit another headteacher while he was still in post, using an agency called Ignata.

But now the letter strongly denies ever placing the advert. A statement from Ignata said: “As part of our continuing relationship Ignata has a ‘watching brief’ for CET where we have agreed to make you aware of any talent available.” It added it was common practice to advertise generic roles in areas where there is potential need. as much of the work they received was from speculative approaches to trusts and schools A spokesman for Whitehaven Academy Action Group, said:”This letter does the exact opposite of engaging with the community, all we want is a face-to-face meeting with the trust and while it might be uncomfortable for them initially, this is the only way forward for many parents, hiding behind expensive solicitors is not the best way to engage. This letter is over the top and a simple one saying ‘CET would like to clarify things, we have got off on the wrong foot, let’s have a public meeting’ would have fit far better.”

The spokesman added: “Regarding the departure of Mr Turner we maintain he did not want to leave Whitehaven Academy and many students are still upset and asking daily why he can’t come back. Perhaps that’s a question for CET. We can’t speak for Mr Turner but he had pledged the rest of his working days to the school, if his issues were with Bright Tribe then we see no reason why he can’t be re-employed by CET should he so wish, surely if CET genuinely wants what is best for all its students then that would be a step in the right direction.”