Please see my recent article for the Brightlingsea Flyer on the Thrive Academy Partnership Trust, the Colne Community School and College, and Philip Morant:
"I want to use my article in this month's Flyer to address the current and ongoing situation at the Thrive Academy Partnership Trust which runs the Colne Community School and College in Brightlingsea and Philip Morant School in Colchester.
I am sure many readers will have seen the recent news that two members on the Board of the Trust, the Chief Executive Officer and the Principal of Philip Morant, have been suspended pending investigations. Both of these members of the Board were also Trustees, two of only four.
I want to make absolutely clear that I am taking no view on the allegations which these investigations focus on. There are mechanisms in place to allow a fair consideration of the facts available and this process must not be prejudiced. I also urge parents and faculty members to withhold judgement until these investigations are complete. I have been contacted by several concerned parents raising their own experiences at the schools, prompted to write by the suspensions. I have also been contacted by parents who are keen to stress their own positive experiences with the schools. It is not publically known what matters are being investigated and speculation over the reasons only risks complicating things further at a time when the focus for parents, teachers and those in the local authority and in Government must be on supporting the students in the run up to their exams.
This is not to say that those with concerns over their own experiences with the schools should not raise them through the appropriate channels. Any case which has given a parent cause for concern should be thoroughly considered by the relevant school and actions taken where appropriate to give students the best chance to get the most from their education. As your local representative I am always happy to assist in raising these cases on your behalf. However, we must not prematurely conflate every personal grievance with the wider issues until all the facts are publically known.
We must also give thought to the teachers at both of these schools. Many have worked tirelessly to provide a public service, and both of these schools have been at the heart of their local 'educational communities' for years. I have visited the Colne on many occasions during my time as the local MP and met many dedicated teachers and keen pupils. Instability in the workplace can be distracting and demoralising. These current issues will be an additional pressure for teachers gearing up to guide their students through exams and they must feel they are being supported so that they can fulfil the same support role for their students. Confident teachers inspire confident students.
Whatever the outcome of these investigations, there will be lessons to learn ahead. Are there proper independent trustees? Is there an independent Chairman to make sure these issues are dealt with openly and transparently? Is there a sense of accountability to the public? Good governance is something all boards and Trustees should strive for, whether it is currently plain sailing or not. All of these questions and more will be considered in due course, but for now the focus must be on ensuring stable leadership is in place and support mechanisms are available for teachers and students to ensure there is no additional pressure during forthcoming exams. This is why I have written to the Schools Minister in a joint letter with Will Quince, MP for Colchester, asking to meet urgently about this issue. The top of the agenda will be asking Department for Education to ensure leadership is brought in immediately to support students and teachers at the schools. We will also seek assurances that the Department will reach out to parents and the local communities to keep them informed of the investigation so that there is trust and openness in the process.
If you do wish to raise any concerns with me please do not hesitate to get in contact by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I shall keep residents informed of my meeting with the Minister on my website and Facebook page, as well as in the next edition of the Brightlingsea Flyer."