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‘No obligation’ for Parkside schools to consult parents over United Learning move

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A group of Cambridge schools has “no obligation” to discuss plans to join a nationwide academy trust with parents.

MP for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner in conversation with Mike Scialom. .Picture - Richard Marsham. (8338125)
MP for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner in conversation with Mike Scialom. .Picture - Richard Marsham. (8338125)

Daniel Zeichner MP told parents that the news reflected the state of the education system, where there is “very little oversight or accountability”.

“I make no secret of where I stand on this. I support schools being part of, and accountable to, their local community,” he wrote in a letter to parents.

The MP has met with parents, trade unions, councillors, governors, schools and school staff over proposals for Cambridge Academic Partnership (CAP) to join United Learning in September. CAP is formed of Parkside, Coleridge, Trumpington, and Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology.

Mr Zeichner said he recently met the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) for the East of England, Sue Baldwin. He raised concerns regarding the transparency of the process and echoed the frustration felt by parents around the consultation process, which seemed designed more to inform than consult.

“It was also clarified that there was no obligation by CAP or United Learning to undertake a full consultation with the local community,” he wrote.

The MP added: “My concern is that the academy system takes that accountability of schools out of the public domain and into the boardrooms of Academy Trusts, where there is very little opportunity for public scrutiny.

“As your representative, I will continue to question the decision process.”

The government recently marked the milestone that 50 per cent of pupils in England study at academies and free schools.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “The fact that more than half a million children are now in good or outstanding sponsored academies that were previously underperforming demonstrates that when schools come together, as part of a multi-academy trust, they can achieve far more than they can on their own.”

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