Thursday, August 13, 2015

Whitehaven Academy and Whitehaven campus

There is a huge row reported on the front page of today's Whitehaven News about the exclusion of Whitehaven Academy (formerly Whitehaven School) from some aspects of the proposal for a new school campus development. There appears to be a massive "blame game" going on about who is responsible for this.

I was a governor of Whitehaven School for about four years prior to the school becoming an Academy and a transitional governor of Whitehaven Academy for its' first year, but completed my term as a governor and stepped down earlier this year.

I am in no position to speak either for the current governors or for Bright Tribe and I certainly have no wish to accuse anyone on either side of that debate of being less than truthful.

The first suggestion that if Whitehaven School (as it then was) sought Academy status this might interfere with the "Whitehaven Campus" project and make it more difficult for the school to take part did not come from any school governor or member of the Senior Leadership Team and certainly not from Bright Tribe who had not yet been identified as the sponsors for the academy bid at the time. It came from a County Council officer who was advising the governors about the LEA view of the implications of Academy status before the final decision to apply for such status was taken.

At this stage the "Campus" proposal was much less developed. I don't believe any of the governors actually wanted to sabotage the proposal or exclude the school from it, but we were also in a position where it was imperative for the future of the school and its' pupils to take a clear decision about the future direction and status. Failure to set out and pursue a clear strategy would have been an abdication of responsibility which might well have resulted in the school completely losing control of its' destiny, either by being placed in special measures or through an academy order. The majority of governors believed that the best way to secure the future of the school and the best education for the students was to pursue academy status with a partner of our choice, and this was the route which was eventually agreed after the required extensive consultation process.

A few months later the governors of Whitehaven School were attacked by the local Labour MP through the columns of the Whitehaven News with his usual complete lack of any attempt at constructive engagement. He also accused us of sabotaging the "Whitehaven campus" project by applying for academy status. At the time this attack appeared to be political grandstanding, but I do wonder if it has influenced some of the comments which have been made this week.

In fact the county could and did continue to develop the campus project, and discussions about it could and did include Whitehaven School and later Whitehaven Academy.

When the school became Whitehaven Academy it could and did attempt to explore all options to obtain funding for new buildings including a separate bid for investment in new buildings in the hope that our new status would facilitate this.

However, up to the time I stepped down as a governor of Whitehaven Academy I am not aware that the governors at any time agreed that we would refuse to take part in the "Whitehaven Campus" project if it did go ahead.

I am sorry to see people who I respect trading harsh words through the columns of the local press. I would prefer to see them sit down and see if agreement can be reached about how to secure the best possible education facilities for all the children of the Whitehaven area.

1 comment:

Chris Whiteside said...

This post was put up for constructive discussion of the best way to get better education facilities for all the children of the Whitehaven area.

I do not regard posts which score points by making comments about any individual children, whoever it comes from and whoever's children are involved as legitimate, and if you want to play that particular disgusting game, please don't do it on my blog. Any such comments made here will be deleted the instant I notice them.