Thursday 23 April 2015

Local debate 2 - Ken Mackenzie to leave Sedgehill School

A lot of Sedgehill parents were shocked today to receive a
Show support to Prendergast parents on Saturday!
letter from the Interim Executive Board (the 'IEB' brought in by the Local Authority in place of the elected Governing Body) telling us that the current Head, Ken Mackenzie, is leaving at the end of June.

That significant information was included as just a single sentence in a longer letter outlining a series of new leadership appointments, including a new "Chief Executive Officer", appointments that presumably left Mr Mackenzie feeling he faced an untenable position.

A number of parents have expressed their disappointment that these significant changes have been announced without any real dialogue taking place first between the IEB and parents as a whole. The same letter announces that a "first meeting for parents will be on 30 April" - only after the event.

Inevitably, after the vocal support for the school shown by students and parents before Christmas, there will be some suspicions about today's announcements. Some will ask whether the review of the school conducted by external consultants presents an honest analysis - or one steered towards justifying the imposition of an IEB in the first place? Those suspicions will only be addressed if staff and parents are allowed to input on the resulting action plans and, if necessary, question the review outcomes.

Fears will also be raised that the changes are still part of a plan to force the school into becoming an academy. I hope the IEB will reassure parents that this is not their intention. Of course, as campaigners have always warned, whatever the IEB's views, that doesn't mean that the next Government might not have academisation of Sedgehill firmly on their agenda.

Above all, parents and staff alike will be anxious to know what the change of leadership will bring. Too many schools have seen imposed 'improvement plans' lead to even more unmanageable workload, demoralisation and damaging staff turnover. That would be disastrous for Sedgehill.

While parents and staff wait to see how things develop at Sedgehill over the next weeks and months, I hope today's news will strengthen the determination of those of us in the Sedgehill community to make sure that the school gets proper support and not have damaging change imposed upon it. It's also another good reason to make sure we're supporting parents and staff at another set of schools where there are attempts to impose changes without the support of the school community - at the Prendergast federation.

A march is being held in Lewisham on Saturday - and I am sure Sedgehill parents would be very welcome if they came to join the march and take part in the closing rally.

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