Fight to stop Littlegreen School academy order ‘over’

ks180160-2 Chi Littlegreen Protest   phot kate'Janine Young,left, Hayley Rose and Keeli Bennett.ks180160-2 SUS-181004-191616008
ks180160-2 Chi Littlegreen Protest phot kate'Janine Young,left, Hayley Rose and Keeli Bennett.ks180160-2 SUS-181004-191616008

Petitioners hoping to prevent a special school from becoming an academy have said they have lost the fight.

Littlegreen School in Compton, which teaches boys with autism and other social needs, is due to become part of Solent Academies Trust from September after being rated inadequate by Ofsted last year.

More than 1,000 people signed an online petition to try and prevent the academisation by getting the school reinspected but appeals to the Secretary of State have been fruitless.

Parents expressed concerns the upheaval of transitioning will be detrimental for pupils particularly sensitive to change.

Parent Hayley Rose, from North Bersted, who set up the petition, said the academy trust was close to signing and the campaign had run out of time.

She said: “We’ve reached the end of the road. There’s nothing more we can do. I’m gutted, absolutely gutted.”

Schools which are rated inadequate may be referred to an academy trust by the Regional Schools Commissioner under an academy order, which may be revoked at the commissioner’s discretion in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Objectors argued school’s situation was ‘exceptional’ because headteacher Ms Ridgwell had only been in her position eight weeks before the Ofsted inspection and the school had since improved.

Hayley said the campaigning group had written to the Secretary of State via a solicitor, but the response had been ‘very negative’.

Executive headteacher of Solent Academies Trust, Alison Beane, said the trust would not be ‘changing all sorts of things at once’.

She said: “The conversion is progressing as planned. Personally I’ve met with a number of parents in one on one meetings.

“I’ve met with staff, we’re going in and out of the school. I think the whole process is a really positive one.”

She said all members of staff were being invited to stay on, including the current headteacher, Pam Ridgwell, who was ‘considering her position’.

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said the school’s transition was ‘outside of its control’ but an independent adviser was reviewing progress made at Littlegreen as part of the council’s usual monitoring process.