Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

UPDATE: – Worthing High School – open letter

The debate over Worthing High School has reached a critical stage. Teachers and support staff have indicated, in several surveys and ballots, their overwhelming opposition to the plans, but the governors appear to be pressing ahead regardless. The staff have made clear that they, and the school, need the continued support of the local authority, with its wealth of knowledge about schools and its democratic structure. Leaving aside the students and parents, the staff of any school are its greatest resource. The governors should listen to them.

In spite of all this, the head teacher and chair of governors have refused to allow staff representatives to speak directly to the governors at their next meeting. Governors have repeatedly been invited to public meetings to hear the views of members of the community, but have not attended. The Chair of Governors has been invited to discuss matters with the secretary of West Sussex NUT, the union representing the largest group of teachers at the school, but has not responded.

Equally worrying is the difficulty in obtaining minutes of governing body meetings. These are public documents that should have been released months ago so that the public can gain insight into the deliberations of the governors. It should not have been necessary to have to resort to Freedom of Information legislation to get them released. In one case even that approach has been ignored.

All this is profoundly undemocratic and particularly worrying at a time when the governors are trying to remove the school from the support of the local authority. It is understandable that the staff feel they need the continued support of the local authority. It is hardly surprising that the unions representing teaching staff are now moving towards industrial action, their last resort.

We ask the governors to pause to reflect on the damage this process is doing to the school and its reputation. Why not allow more time for a balanced debate? There is no rush – the so-called ‘freedoms’ of academies, claimed in the consultation document, will not disappear overnight. We call on the governors to delay the application process to allow more time for reflection and to engage more fully with staff representatives and the wider community.

John Apsey (Branch Secretary, ATL(West Sussex))

Christa McKee-Lerbs (County Sec NASUWT)

Dave Thomas (County Sec, NUT)

Chris Earwaker (County Sec, UNISON)

As County Councillor for the Tarring Division which includes Worthing High School Bob Smytherman fully supports this stance and will be attending the event on Tuesday June 26th to oppose the Worthing High School Academy bid.

Action group public meeting at the Cricket Club on Manor Ground, off Broadwater Road, Worthing starts at 7.30pm.