“We are pleased that the Secretary of State has chosen to revoke the academy order, the only logical decision under the circumstances. This is not just a victory for common sense, it is also a victory for the parents and staff who campaigned and put pressure on the government to ensure that their school could continue to flourish with its current leadership and within the local family of schools.

“Less than a year ago William Torbitt received an ‘inadequate’ judgement from Ofsted but has now achieved ‘good’ in its most recent inspection. This is a testament to the talent and hard work of its staff and proof that schools which remain within the local authority family can overcome difficulties and continue on their upward trajectories.

“This also fundamentally calls into question the government’s insistence on immediately academising schools which are judged by Ofsted to be ‘inadequate’. A forced move to academy status under a sponsor imposed by ministers would have been a total disaster in this case that would have undermined the good work being done by the school as well as alienating parents and the wider community.

“Sadly, this is what has happened and continues to happen with many schools which are forced to academise once they receive an Ofsted grade of inadequate. Such an approach is not only wrong in principle, it’s counterproductive; creating further disruption and uncertainty for staff, pupils and parents.

“The government now has to rethink its whole approach and stop forcing schools into academy status against the wishes of their local communities. Schools should be allowed to remain within their local authority where they can benefit from the local expertise and knowledge that will support genuine school improvement. “

Editor’s Note

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, has written on two occasions to Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, about the plight of William Torbitt Primary School. The most recent was on 7 February 2019:

Dear Damian,

William Torbitt Primary School, London Borough of Redbridge

I write further to my letter of 25 January regarding the above school.

I was delighted to hear from my members that, following its reinspection last month, the school has been rated ‘good’ and is now out of special measures.  I am sure that you would want to join me in congratulating the staff, senior leadership team and local authority for their hard work in bringing about this impressive turnaround for the school.

NEU members continue to feel deeply unsettled however by the shadow of forced academisation hanging over them.  As you will be aware, the school is due to become a sponsored academy on 1 April.  Such a move is clearly unnecessary and could seriously undermine the progress that that has been made.  

In light of the new circumstances, I urge you to use the powers at your disposal to withdraw the academy order and enable the school to continue the progress it is making with the support of the local authority.

I look forward to hearing from you.