Gloucestershire school to close after RSC blasts inexperienced trustees

A single-academy trust in Gloucestershire will close after its improvement plan failed to convince the government – leaving trustees just 15 days to try to reverse the decision.

St Anthony’s School was handed a termination warning notice last week, after its regional schools commissioner blasted trustees for lacking the necessary skills to hold their headteacher properly to account.

The primary was initially handed a pre-warning termination notice in February after an inspection before Christmas found it was still plagued by weak teaching, low expectations and poor governance.

It was placed in special measures for the first time almost three years ago, and was once again rated ‘inadequate’ in all areas in December, partly as a result of “turbulence in leadership”.

In her pre-termination notice, Lisa Mannall, the RSC for the south-west of England, demanded to know what the headteacher had done since joining the school last September, and what her plans were. She also wanted to see a list of governors’ skills and details of when they joined.

She demanded an action plan for how finances will be managed in future, after inspectors found there were “not sufficient resources to support teaching or to ensure that basic safety requirements are being adhered to”.

But in the termination notice, dated March 23, she was “not satisfied that trust has a sufficient plan to bring about rapid and sustainable improvements”.

The plan fails to “link activity with impact” and lacks specific details about who will be responsible for what changes. Promises that external support would be received from a nearby teaching school seemed to “overstate” what support could be provided at zero cost.

There was also “no evidence of trustees having the necessary skills to hold the executive to account”, which Mannall labelled a “serious omission”.

Trustees now have just over two weeks to convince her that they can improve the school.

According to Gloucestershire Live, headteacher Lorna Middleton only took over in September and has, with parents, accused the government of not doing enough to support the school.

The school has reportedly also asked why £750,000 was ploughed into a building refurbishment programme completed days before learning it was facing closure.

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  1. The new head only took over in September. Hardly time to have much impact. But if the school closes and the head loses her job, then this will likely deter candidates coming forward to lead other inadequate schools. It could be career suicide.
    When the DfE talks of closure it doesn’t mean putting boards on the windows and doors and leaving the current pupils out in the cold. It means sacking the present trustees, replacing them with an interim board and forcibly converting the school to an academy or, if it’s already an academy, transferring it to another trust.