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Saturday 19 October 2013

Tory Minister’s School Chain Loses Another Head

These are not good times for Future Academies, the chain set up by Lord Nash and his wife which now boasts four schools in its offering. Following the departure of an unqualified head teacher from Pimlico Free School only last week, Churchill Gardens academy, also in Pimlico, has now parted company with its acting head teacher. The background makes grim reading.
A second headteacher from an academy chain set up by the coalition's schools minister is to leave her post this term, prompting concerns about their governance. Susan Rankin-Reid, the acting head of Churchill Gardens academy, in Pimlico, central London, has agreed to leave Future Academies ... Colleagues and friends said she was bullied by academy managers” reported the Guardian.

Parents weren’t impressed: “Parents on Friday blamed the academy for forcing her out. Patience Freeman, who was picking up her children Lois, 9, Jesse, 6, and Simean, 5, said she is looking for an alternative school because of the constant changes brought in by Future. I blame them [Future]. The headteacher is very good and we want her to stay”. Curiouser and curiouser.

There are inevitably going to be questions not merely about the involvement of a Tory schools minister in a chain of schools, which are potential recipients of directly awarded Government funds, but also of the chain’s governance in general. So who is up for defending this decision, or at least explaining it? Not the DfE, which is trying to claim Nash has no conflict of interest.

Nor is Future Academies saying much. But what is really interesting is that those who are usually on the hair trigger for instant rebuttal of any suggestion that anything Michael “Oiky” Gove touches does not necessarily turn to gold, or at least instantly transform standards for the better, are silent. For starters, there is his retinue of polecats who operate the @toryeducation Twitter feed.

This account, attributed to Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete, has been quiet for a couple of days now. And there has also been silence from the source that was so ready to jump to the defence of what happened at Pimlico Free School: yes, there has been no word from the loathsome Toby Young, to the relief of those who wished that this happened more often.

What’s the matter, folks? I’m sure there is a perfectly rational explanation for this departure, that standards are being raised as I type (if only in the retelling), and that there is no chance of children’s education suffering. Just think what Gove and his polecats would be doing if it were two local authority schools in the same area shipping head teachers in such quick succession.

One hates to think that there is one rule for Gove’s pals, and another for the rest.

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