To: Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing on behalf of The Parents’ Committee of Waltham Holy Cross Primary School in Waltham Abbey, Essex. We have been made aware that the Department for Education has agreed to carry out an urgent investigation into allegations raised about the propriety and suitability of the proposed academy sponsor NET Academies Trust (NETAT) for our school. You will know that this was reported in The Guardian newspaper on 18th September in an article written by Aditya Chakrabortty.
We wish to seek confirmation of the procedure and remit of the investigation commissioned by your Department. Given the concerns we have, and the fact that the views of our community have been disregarded over the last two years, I’m sure you will understand that we are anxious to establish that the remit and conduct of this investigation will be independent, thorough and transparent and carried out in accordance with best practice and the Nolan Principles.
Consequently, we would expect that the investigation is independent both of the DfE (RSC ?) and NETAT and that its remit will include NETAT’s actions at Waltham Holy Cross Primary School and their schools in Harlow and elsewhere. We also assume that evidence will be collected in the form of oral and written testimonies and affidavits from parents, teachers, support staff and education unions based at Waltham Holy Cross Primary and NETAT schools and that those who give evidence will be guaranteed anonymity and protection from reprisal.
We would therefore appreciate your confirmation that the points above will be part of the investigation remit. Can you also provide us with the following information :-
- Who will be conducting the investigation ?
- How will they be selected and by whom ?
- What will be timeline for their investigation and the publication date of their report ?
- How and where will the investigation report be published ? Will it be made public ? Despite the support of our MP, the local community and many others across the country we have been seriously let down by the RSC who has failed to act upon or even acknowledge the legitimacy of our concerns. We are appalled that it has taken a parent to initiate legal proceedings in order for our voices to be heard and for investigations of our concerns to take place. We have been raising these concerns for a very long time. Whilst NETAT has failed and re- brokered three of its schools, Waltham Holy Cross Primary has continued to improve its results year on year under the current leadership and management, with the support of the IEB. All involved have been under immense pressure during this time. The wellbeing of the children and school staff, and views of parents and the wider community over this period have not been considered and we feel very let down.
We will never accept that our school should be run by those who fail to put the best interests of our children and the community first and foremost. We will continue to act in good faith and we trust that you will respect this and act accordingly in return. We can’t imagine you would accept anything less for your own family. Our school cannot be taken over by an academy trust such as NETAT which has lost the confidence of the parents, staff and the local community even before this investigation begins.
We would appreciate your answers to our concerns and look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible
Chair of Waltham Holy Cross Parents’ Committee