ST HELENS Council education bosses are seeking urgent talks with the leaders of the failing Hope Academy after Ofsted deemed a rescue plan for the school was “not fit for purpose”.
The Star revealed last week how the £33m Hope, in Newton-le-Willows, which slid into special measures earlier this year had its improvement plan ripped to shreds by inspectors during a “monitoring visit”.
As an academy which was formed following the merger of Newton High and St Aelreds, Hope sits out of local education authority control.
But with the council responsible for the overall education of children in the borough, senior town hall figures will not hesitate from exerting influence if necessary.
The council was locked in talks with the academy’s sponsors following the initial Ofsted report, which was followed by the departure of principal John Gannon.
Asked about the watchdog’s latest findings, a council statement read: “The council shares Ofsted’s concerns and is working with the local school leadership to finalise their improvement plan.
“We’re also seeking an urgent meeting with the school’s three sponsors to ensure this happens quickly.
“This is a priority for the council in the interests of both current and future pupils.
“And even though the school is independent of local authority control, we will not hesitate to raise any concerns with Ofsted if we feel progress is stalling.”
Ofsted inspector Sally Kenyon had described the action plan as “too vague” and criticised sponsors including Hope University and the Catholic and Church of England Archdioceses of Liverpool.
A spokesman for the sponsors said the inspector’s comments were being taken very seriously: “We will review our statement of action and inspection plan accordingly. We are determined to support the governors and senior management in driving standards upwards by providing clear, challenging targets and robust feedback.
“The inspection report did show many examples of improvement at Hope Academy. In particular we were pleased that Ofsted commented ‘sponsors have responded swiftly to address some of the key weaknesses in leadership and management’.
“We believe that we can provide a strong platform to develop the school alongside pupils, parents, staff and governors.”
Dr David Dennison, the interim principal, is currently running the academy, though Paul Roach, current head at Mount St Joseph Business and Enterprise College in Bolton, has been handed the position, though his official start date is yet to be agreed.
The Department for Education was contacted for a response about Ofsted’s findings but did not reply by the time the Star went to press.