The future of Oval Primary School must not be decided behind closed doors

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The last two weeks at Oval School have shown Councils that don’t consult parents, governors, teachers and the local community, are bound to make mistakes when decisions are made in haste. It shows that despite Cllr Pollard’s view that “speed is the key”, Councils need to engage all stakeholders if they are to turn around schools such as Oval Primary.

Over the last week or so Labour Councillors have been speaking to all various people from all groups involved in these events, to get an understanding of what went wrong, and there a number of common themes and statements which we have found.

  • Croydon Council lack of insight to what the real issues at Oval School are
  • Failure over the last 2 years by Croydon Council to notice that Oval School needed additional help
  • Lack of meaningful consultation and dialogue with various stakeholders
  • Lack of time for various groups to consider and respond to Council’s demands
  • Poor communication by Council Croydon towards parents, teachers and governors
  • Failure by Croydon Council to put forward a credible  “Croydon Solution” when first considering partnership or federation options to support the school
  • Lack of respect for professionalism and dedication of staff, who work at Oval School in challenging circumstances
  • Poor understanding of what had to improve at the school and what help the school needed
  • Croydon Council’s evident belief that poor discipline was the key issue with the appointment of Gypsy Hill Federation, and its subsequent tough stance towards pupils
  • Croydon Council failure to understand the causes of the instability in the school’s population, including its own major role in this issue
  • Croydon failure to help Oval School engage and embed itself into the local community, and so develop the strong community support that successful schools achieve

The appointment of Gypsy Hill Foundation and its rapid failure shows that Croydon Council approach to Oval School, and others in similar situations, must change. Local Councillors are calling for the council to engage in a meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders that puts the local community at the heart of the new proposals for Oval School. Oval School must become again a high performing local school, accountable and supported by its local community. Local Councillors have committed themselves to help bring together the various stakeholders to make sure that this is achieved.

About Sean

Councillor for Addiscombe Ward, 1994-2006, re-elected in May 2010 along with Mark Watson and Patricia Hay-Justice. Since May 2014 Chair of Scrutiny. Lives locally in Addiscombe.
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