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Coventry's struggling Grace Academy faces questions from Geoffrey Robinson MP

Coventry Editorial 9th Mar, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A PIONEERING Coventry academy school is continuing to fail its pupils amid controversial reports over its business dealings, says a Coventry MP.

Coventry North West Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson has raised questions in Parliament about the former Woodway Park School’s performance and is meeting ministers.

It came as The Guardian newspaper reported allegations of how taxpayers’ money as payment for school support services is going to organisations with links to the Grace Academy Trust, which is financed by millionaire Tory donor Lord Edmiston.

No impropriety is alleged concerning who the Trust running its three Grace Academies decides to buy services from.

But there are calls for more scrutiny over private firms’ use of the public purse from the new type of schools, which have greater independence from councils.

The Grace Academy was set up in new buildings under the previous Labour government, which only sought to academise failing schools in disadvantaged areas.

The coalition government has since encouraged all schools to convert to academies, and most secondary schools in Coventry have done so.

Mr Robinson said he had continuing concerns about the school in Wigston Road since it was rated ‘inadequate’ by watchdog Ofsted in March last year, and placed in special measures.

Ofsted in November wrote to the school to say it was still not making sufficient progress following its previous criticisms on issues including quality of leadership and teaching, pupils’ behaviour, and exam results, with just 32 per cent of pupils achieving 5A*-C GCSEs including English and Maths.

Mr Robinson told education secretary Nicky Morgan in the Commons: “The proof of the pudding will be in the effective action taken to deal with the situation.

“We have no indication that it is improving and the career prospects of 1,000 young children are being put at risk.”

The Conservative cabinet minister responded by saying: “We will of course always maintain a close watch over all academies and their results.

“He (Mr Robinson) might like to know that secondary converter academies perform well above average, with 64per cent of pupils achieving five or more good GCSEs in 2014 compared with 54 per cent in local authority schools.”

Grace Academy Trust claims related parties had pumped £4.5million more into its schools than had been paid to them by its schools, in addition to £5mIllion paid by the trust.

The school declined to comment on Mr Robinson’s concerns.

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