Cumbria Education Trust responds to community rumours

Cumbria Education Trust (CET) has now been officially appointed sponsor of The Whitehaven Academy with effect from 1 December.

The legal documentation for The Whitehaven Academy was signed, sealed and dated by the Department for Education (DfE) on Thursday, 22 November 2018, making this a legally binding document to allow the academy to transfer to CET.

Commenting on the finalisation of the rebrokering Debbie Francis, Chair of Cumbria Education Trust Board said:

“The Trust Board unanimously passed a resolution to welcome The Whitehaven Academy into CET at their meeting on Tuesday, 20 November 2018.

“Strong and effective governance will be a priority, and to that end, an advertisement will appear in the local newspaper this week inviting applications for suitably experienced and skilled members of the community to apply for positions on the Local Advisory Board (LAB). We will also write to parents and staff who will be given the opportunity to have representation on this board. The LAB will replace the Academy Management Committee which was established during the transition period.”

The end of the legal process comes at a time when feelings are running high within certain sections of the community about news that the former principal, Warren Turner, has come to the realisation that now is the time for him to move on to another role.

After some delays in getting the legal agreements over the line, the news that CET was now officially the sponsor of The Whitehaven Academy, was welcomed by Mrs Lorrayne Hughes, CET’s chief executive officer and the CET Trust Board.  Mrs Hughes said:

“Sometimes it seemed as if this day would never come but we are ready at last to take The Whitehaven Academy forward and to really make a difference to the life chances of its students.  Our official appointment marks the start of a new era for the school.  Many things will be done very differently in the future, as you would expect.

“I will be much more visible at the school now that we are fully in control.  We will operate with full transparency whenever it is possible to do so and with a new school building on the horizon, we have much to look forward to.”

The CET Board is aware of many negative comments, factual inaccuracies and rumours circulating within the community, based on hearsay.

In response, Debbie Francis commented on behalf of the CET Board:

“This kind of inflammatory dialogue is distracting for everyone when we have so many good things occurring on the horizon.  It takes away the focus of delivering better outcomes for the students, giving them improved life chances and creating an environment where teaching staff want to teach, and students want to learn.

“CET will not be diverted from their course of ensuring the children receive the education they deserve and once CET is fully in control, from 1 December, we will continue the work we have already begun under our Service Level Agreement with BTT and in the fullness of time the results will speak for themselves.

“We have the full support of the DfE, the Regional Schools Commissioner, the local authority and our collaborative partners in the region who will all help us to deliver on their promise.  CET is looking forward to having the full support of parents in due course. We wish to assure parents, students and staff that we are committed to the school for the long term.

“CET would like to make it clear to members of the community that whatever decisions are reached by CET, they are always made in the best interests of the children we are responsible for. We would like to assure the community that our focus is entirely on giving the children the best possible education and helping them to be the ‘best they can be’, which is CET’s motto.”

Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills at Cumbria County Council, said:

“This is welcome news. Cumbria Education Trust are a local sponsor with a track record in West Cumbria and will bring expertise and resources. Pupils at Whitehaven Academy now need a period of stability, out of the headlines, where the focus can be 100% on their education and not on the school’s administrative arrangements. We also welcome CET’s ongoing commitment to working with the Local Authority as part of our countywide arrangements to help support schools and ensure a high quality of education everywhere. We look forward to positive progress.”

Interim National Schools Commissioner, Dominic Herrington said:

“The Whitehaven Academy is joining a strong and local multi-academy trust and we support CET in their ambition to provide an improved education that the children rightly deserve. There is much to look forward to with the rebuild of much of the academy’s buildings and a much needed fresh start for all concerned, especially the children and staff.”