John Roan School
John Roan School has been hit by industrial strife over the academy plans

The rubber-stamping of a controversial academy order for John Roan School in Blackheath has been deferred by the council.

The decision to sign the school over to University Schools Trust (UST), the body that was nominated to take it over, has been pushed back for “further due diligence”.

The school was given an academy order following an “inadequate” Ofsted rating earlier this year.

Education secretary Damian Hinds nominated the University Schools’ Trust to take over the running of the school, sparking protests and strikes.

A number of parents, staff members and some councillors have been campaigning for months for the decision to be reversed, with a crowdfunder being launched to take Ofsted to court over the ruling.

Despite disagreeing with academisation, Greenwich Council’s cabinet was poised to rubber-stamp the academy order at a meeting last night before the last-minute deferral.

The council is legally obliged to facilitate the academisation under government legislation, but has pushed this back until a meeting in December.

‘Further work around due diligence’

Cllr David Gardner, deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services and schools said: “The council has always strongly opposed schools becoming academies and we were deeply disappointed when the Regional Schools Commissioner chose to issue the order to academise The John Roan School.
“However, we are committed to getting the best deal we can for students, parents, staff and the community and as such there is further work to do around due diligence.

“The cabinet decision has therefore been deferred to allow further discussion to take place at the cabinet meeting in December.”

Campaigners originally set to speak at last night’s meeting lined the steps of the town hall instead to rally support.

They have concerns over the trust, and say Ofsted should reinspect the school.

At a Q&A session earlier this month, leader Dan Thorpe admitted the UST was probably “not the council’s first choice” of provider, but said his administration was doing what it could to resist further academies popping up elsewhere in the borough.

A spokesperson for the UST said: “The University Schools Trust is committed to helping The John Roan School to make the necessary improvements, now and into the future.

“Pupil outcomes are currently far below expectations and the school has been failing its children for a number of years. We are currently working with the governing body and leadership at the school to improve the quality of teaching and the outcomes for pupils.”

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Tom Bull is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Scheme is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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