'Untested' private trust should not take over failing secondary school in Milton Keynes, say councillors

Labour councillors have hit out at the government's decision about the future of Stantonbury International School.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 3:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 3:16 pm

The councillors have been battling for the school to to return to MK Council control since the Griffin Trust was stripped of its control by the Department of Education last December.

But last month the government announced it would be run by the Tove Learning Trust, a multi academy trust which recently recently started running the successful Lord Grey School in MK.

It is also is responsible for the Elizabeth Woodville School in Northamptonshire, a school currently rated by Ofsted as “Requires Improvement,” say Labour councillors.

Stantonbury International School

Stantonbury school was rated as improving' when it was turned into an academy in 2015. But last year it was deemed inadequate, with Ofsted highlighting poor results and pupil safety issues

After the Griffin Trust was stopped from running the school, Labour leaders in MK wrote to government officials to ask that the school be returned to their council's control.

"However, the government’s Regional School Commissioner, Dame Kate Dethridge has now written to MK Council saying she will recommend the Stantonbury school is taken over by yet another Multi Academy Trust with an, as yet, unproven track record of success its secondary schools," said a Labour spokesperson.

Labour councillors have pledged not to give up the fight and are now asking residents to back them, he said.

Councillor Zoe Nolan, Cabinet member for children and families said: ”The academy system and this Conservative government are failing children and teachers in Milton Keynes on the basis of ideology.”

She added: “Tove Learning Trust have their work cut out to work with us to improve the Lord Grey School and should be concentrating on that. We are working well with them and there are signs of progress there but Elizabeth Woodville, another Tove School, is 'Requires Improvement.'

"Tove should be left to concentrate on the schools they already run. However, almost all Milton Keyes Council schools are good, outstanding or improving towards that, but our offer to run the school has not yet been successful."

Councillor Martin Petchey, Stantonbury ward councillor said: “Tove have a job on their hands getting their existing schools over the line. How can Dame Kate believe they have the capacity or experience to take on this very large failing school and turn it round rapidly?”

"I have very serious concerns about the recommendation of the Regional Schools Commissioner and will be asking local residents to support me in carrying on our fight to restore Stantonbury International to Milton Keynes Council."

Meanwhile lcoal Conservatives have given a "cautious welcome" to the school's new leadership.

City MP Ben Everitt said: “This has been a long and complicated issue to sort out. I know how frustrating it's been for parents, pupils and staff. I’m so pleased we are making progress and there’s a local trust being proposed, with a good reputation.

"This is so important for parents given the loss of faith in the current academy leadership. “I’ll keep working with the Schools Commissioner and her team to make sure we can get the best possible school so that children can grow and learn and achieve their potential.”

Stantonbury Councillor Alex Walker added: “This is good news. Nobody what another out of area academy trust to takeover. I think Tove’s reputation of turning struggling schools around is really positive and I hope this can be the start of a new chapter in the school’s story.”

There is a consultation underway for parents and local stakeholders, the deadline for which is the May. 18/