Leeds schools’ futures left in turmoil

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THE FUTURE of two Leeds academies was in turmoil last night after their sponsor withdrew, leaving staff, parents and pupils unclear who would be responsible for running the schools.

Academy chain E-Act has pulled out of ten schools nationally including Leeds West and Leeds East Academies.

The Department for Education said it is now looking for new sponsors for the schools.

Annette Hall from Leeds West was made executive principal of both schools last year after Leeds East received a critical Ofsted inspection.

The E-Act chain, which is one of the biggest nationally, will still retain 24 schools but new sponsors now need to be found for the other ten schools.

Coun Ted Hanley a governor at Leeds West said: “I can say that the head teacher and chair of governors did not know about this until about 24 hours ago.

He added: “I am sure I speak for all the governors when I say we will want to have a say in who our sponsor is. We had built a good team and thought we were going forward with E-Act. We do not want someone foisted onto us by Whitehall.” Nobody was available for comment from either academy last night.

Coun Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive member for schools and Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves have both voiced concern. Coun Blake said: “We are so disappointed that nobody thought to tell the local authority, the school or the governing body about this.”

Ms Reeves said: “Leeds West Academy is an excellent school in my constituency and I’m 100 per cent behind the teachers, parents and pupils. I am extremely concerned about the Government’s decision to change the academy chain without any consultation with parents, pupils or staff.”

A DfE spokeswoman said “We will take swift action to address under-performance in all schools - no matter who controls them. That is as true for academies and free schools as it is for council-run schools. We welcome E-Act’s decision to hand over a number of their academies to new sponsors.”

A spokeswoman for E-Act said: “E-Act has been working with the DfE to identify where we are best placed to make a significant difference to our academies.Our pupils, parents and staff deserve strong support and leadership. Our focus is on where we can provide this and to allow others to deliver elsewhere.” WHAT DO YOU THINK? Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you

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