400 people come out against plans to convert Oxted School into an academy 

Western Morning News

Campaign group protesting against proposals which would see the school receive foundation status and progress plans to join multi-academy trust The Howard Partnership

By Surrey Mirror  |  Posted: January 16, 2015

By Brian Haran and Shams Al-Shakarchi editor@surreymirror.co.uk

  • BRIAN TAYLOR: The chairman of governors says the school has made great stridesOPPOSITION is mounting to Oxted School’s plans to become an academy.

More than 400 people, including the Bluehouse Lane school’s head girl, have joined a campaign group protesting against proposals which would see the school receive foundation status and progress plans to join multi-academy trust The Howard Partnership, which it has worked with since September 2013.

This week, the school announced that governors had voted unanimously to progress towards foundation status, and interested parties have until February 4 to comment on the plans.

The governing body will then consider representations received and determine whether to become a foundation school.

A separate consultation will then be held on becoming an academy, which governors have also recommended.

Chairman of governors Brian Taylor said: “We believe that by becoming a foundation school we will be better able to influence and control the future direction of the school to improve standards and the educational and other experiences of our students, whilst maintaining the unique character and ethos of the school.”

But some parents, students and members of the Oxted community have criticised the school for not holding a more comprehensive consultation process before the governing body made its recommendations.

Hazel Holt is leading the opposition campaign and a public meeting is being held tomorrow (Saturday).

She said: “Nobody has been consulted. They haven’t gone face-to-face with anybody. The whole thing seems underhand. The first thing that alarms most of us is at Howard of Effingham School, The Howard Partnership [and Berkeley Homes] have put in a planning application to build 285 houses.

“Oxted is prime development land.”

She added: “The school is a very good school, it’s not in trouble.”

Head girl Amy Miller has also voiced her concerns. Posting on Facebook page Against Oxted Academy, she said: “I am outraged that the students have been provided with no information whatsoever on these proposals. I myself discovered the news when speaking to friends in the common room.”

She added: “Schools that have failed Ofsted inspections become academies by default, this has led to academies receiving a bad name by many, even though Oxted would be becoming a foundation/academy school by choice it is reasonable to anticipate many prospective parents having a negative view of the school by associating it with failure.”

She also fears the “incredible” teaching staff would leave the school if it became an academy.

In 2013, Ofsted inspectors rated the school as “good”. In the same year, long-standing head teacher Guy Nelson stepped down and was replaced by Nicola Euridge. She told the Mirror in September that year that the school had “absolutely no plans” to become an academy.

With foundation status, the school says it would continue to be maintained by Surrey County Council – but increased collaboration with The Howard Partnership Trust would bring benefits such as greater autonomy, more opportunities to improve students’ attainment, and more flexibility to improve the school’s facilities.

The proposals can be viewed online at www.oxtedschool.co.uk

To respond to the consultation e-mail lthurston@oxtedschool. co.uk or write to The Governing Body, C/O Lisa Thurston, Clerk to the Governors, Oxted School, Bluehouse Lane, Oxted, Surrey, RH8 0AB. All submissions should be marked “Response to foundation proposals”.

The Against Oxted Academy group will meet at Oxted Community Hall on Saturday from noon to 1.30pm.