Survey of Coventry School Foundation parents show 95 per cent are against Bablake and King Henry merger - The Coventry Observer

Survey of Coventry School Foundation parents show 95 per cent are against Bablake and King Henry merger

Coventry Editorial 26th Mar, 2021   0

A SURVEY of the parents of almost 600 pupils within the Coventry School Foundation has found 95 per cent of them are against the merger of the city’s two independent schools.

Other findings of the pole, in light of plans to combine Bablake and King Henry VIII School, show 92 per cent have no confidence in the Foundation’s governors.

The Foundation is trying to push through the merger in time for September 2021 and many parents who responded to the questionnaire said among the issues were no parental consultation, a lack of a compelling rationale for the shock move and concerns being ignored and parental questions remaining unanswered.

The extensive survey also showed 95 per cent were worried about a disruptive impact on exam results, teaching and curriculum changes if the merger goes ahead and that 85 per cent were concerned about the practical implications on them as parents.




The parents have said their children are affected too – with 80 per cent revealing pupils are concerned about the changes.


Other findings suggest 49 per cent fear reprisals against their children if they speak out publicly against the merger and a quarter have already decided to remove their children from the Coventry School Foundation – 54 per cent said they were undecided and were awaiting for further information or to see if the merger could be stopped.

Campaigners warn the Foundation faces a mass exodus of pupils should the governors press on.

Kathryn Goodfellow, who has two children within the Coventry School Foundation, said the results of the survey did not surprise her.

“There has been no consultation and aside from an initial invitation to meet with governors and senior staff back in October, that with hindsight appears to be a ‘lip service exercise’, there has been virtually no communication on the rationale for the merger plans and the project timeline.

“It was expected that a whole school Principal would now be in post to drive this unnecessary plan forward however this is not the case and the project timeline has been altered to remove this appointment and other initial milestones presented to us.

“Questions have been left unanswered and that gives rise to concern over lack of transparency in the decision made.

“I urge the governing body to engage with parents, present a clear and detailed project plan and to stop treating us with contempt before lasting damage is done.”

George Fisher, former headmaster at King Henry VIII School, former lead inspector of the Independent Schools Inspectorate and spokesperson for Action4 Henry’s and Bablake, said: “The results of the survey are absolutely clear that parents are opposed to the merger.

“There’s also a strong view that the logistics will be difficult for them and many say their child is worried about what will be happening to them in September.

“I’m sorry to say that for the governors there is an overwhelming lack of confidence in the governing body of something like 92 per cent.

“What I hope the governors will do is finally have a proper conversation with the beneficiaries of the charity, namely the parents.

“They need to look properly at all the different options for the future of the schools.

“That’s a big piece of work and I would have thought it would take at least 12 months to do that, so they need to put on hold the current plan to give themselves some time to do what they should have done in the first place.”

Campaigners say when they put their findings of the parents’ own consultation the Coventry School Foundation governors so they could get a response for parents, they were told ‘we note the contents’.

 

A statement from the Coventry School Foundation

Andrew Wright, the Project Lead, Bablake and King Henry VIII School, said: “I have seen the results of the survey and am obviously disappointed with the findings. I know the restructure has created strong feelings.

“Bablake and King Henry VIII schools have proudly served Coventry and the wider region for over 1,150 years combined, so the passion for the schools is to be both expected and something for us to be proud of.

“Throughout that time our schools have been on a continuous journey of adaptation, responding to the varying demands and circumstances of their time.

“Then, as now, decisions have been taken based on balancing the educational needs of current families, with the imperative to be sustainable for generations of families to come.

“People’s views are incredibly important to us. That’s why we have held meetings and surgeries, and continue to have many individual conversations and correspondences with families and others.

“Our headteachers continue to be available should parents want to speak to them directly.

“I know there have been instances where people have not received information they were seeking.

“Wherever possible answers are being provided and more of the detail about how Bablake and King Henry VIII will work, that we know parents and others are really looking forward to, will be available soon.

“We have also endeavoured to keep people informed via the half-termly newsletters and letters to parents on specific areas that have arisen.

“We have been listening, and continue to listen, and adapt based on those views as we shape the new Bablake and King Henry VIII School.

“Most recently we have been seeking and implementing the views of students, parents and staff on important decisions about our new name, uniform, ties and house names.

“We hope all parents, pupils and teachers past, present and future, will recognise that we have the best of intentions.

“The transition journey is obviously not an easy one.

“But we are in it together and your views and feelings are of paramount importance.

“At the heart of this restructure is the need to bring together the best of what we do now and create something even better.

“Preserving traditions and community, while investing in the future to create new opportunities for families.”

 

 

 

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