Councillors calls for talks on failing school’s future
Labour councillors are calling for an urgent meeting to discuss the future of Grace Academy Darlaston after school inspectors found it is failing its pupils.
Cllr Doug James (Labour, Darlaston South) is now seek a meeting with the chairman of the Grace Academy Trust, Lord Edmiston, and the school’s head teacher , David Shaw, to see how they will improve the 800 pupil school after being rated inadequate by Ofsted.
In May, school inspectors served a notice to improve on Grace Academy, just short of placing it in special measures.
Cllr James said parents and pupils were deeply disappointed with the school’s rating and he wanted to discuss how he can help it improve its standards.
“An inadequate rating is the lowest mark Ofsted can give and it’s a blow for the young people and parents alike.”
“The decision in 2009 to transfer the school to the Grace Academy was extremely controversial with many parents publicly stating their opposition to the move. Nevertheless it is now the duty of us all to make education in the Darlaston work for our children.”
“The Academy’s standards are not just a matter of concern for those parents whose children are presently attending the school. Parents of pupils at local primary schools expect their kids to attend the Academy, so it’s an issue for the whole community.”
“What is deeply disturbing here is that although Ofsted made their report in May, many of those parents have not been informed of its findings; that is despite the fact that the deputy leader of Walsall Council, Cllr Adrian Andrew (Conservative, Pheasey and Park Farm) has been appointed as a member of the school board of governors for three years.
“This lack of communication therefore is not just a failing by the school but also for those councillors who championed the setting up of the Academy in 2009. The concern is that three years on, we are still back where we started and letting down the young people of Darlaston.”
Ofsted inspectors reported achievement at the Grace Academy was inadequate with low attainment. While standards at Key Stage 4 (GCSE) have risen they remain well below national figures, particularly for boys, with wide gaps in performance persist for most groups of students, including the disabled and those with special educational needs. Standards of literacy are low.
Labour’s spokesperson for education and chair of the Children’s Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Barbara Cassidy, said: “I am disappointed to hear that children in Darlaston continue to be failed in terms of their education. What this poor showing proves, quite clearly, is that this Government’s policy of simply allowing academies to take over failing schools and then promoting them as a panacea for all ills does not work.”
“Furthermore, that those who take the lead in education within Walsall had to hear on the grapevine that the school was being placed into a failing category is wholly unacceptable as far as I am concerned but I’m afraid this will be how things work in the future if the academy programme is allowed to snowball unabated.”
Ofsted’s report on Grace Academy Darlaston can be viewed at