NIGHTINGALE SCHOOL – PRESS RELEASE 22/2/12 – from Former Governors sacked by Secretary of State for Education
Nightingale School, Wood Green was informed by the DfE yesterday that its governing body was immediately disbanded and replaced with an Interim Executive Board. The news was conveyed to the Chair of Governors in a brief e-mail stating that he and all other Governors are removed from office with immediate effect.
Nightingale School is one of the five Haringey schools which has been targeted by the DfE to be forced to convert to a sponsored academy. Nightingale was given a ‘notice to improve’ by Ofsted last October, despite being above the floor targets for pupil attainment. Governors were responding to that notice and had appointed a new interim Headteacher and constructed a robust plan to improve the school. In the meantime Governors were given a few weeks over Christmas to find an academy sponsor or agree to be converted. The Governors were not convinced that this was in the best interests of the school. They wrote to the DfE advising them of this and asked them to wait until the results of the monitoring visit by Ofsted due next month until they took action, and also to give the local Governors time to consult the local community.
The DfE chose to ignore this reasonable request, and instead issued an order to force the school to become a sponsored academy and sack the democratically elected and accountable volunteers from the local community who previously comprised the governing body. They have been replaced with individuals appointed by the DfE answerable only to the Secretary of State.
The newly appointed Chair of Governors, consultant Deborah Absolam, retired early from her post of Director of Children’s service in Bexley in March 2011. She came under criticism whilst in post for the extremes of her salary – in excess of £175,000 – when so many services for vulnerable people were being cut in the borough.
Last April, she reflected on her time in Children’s Services – “Now on to the negatives of the ‘children’s services era’. Top-down prescription from central government in the shape of field forces and toolkits served to divert rather than enhance local provision. ” (Children and young People Now,19th April 2011). Ex-governors, teachers, staff, parents and the local community at Nightingale are reflecting on the irony of this as Ms Absolam – who lives in Surrey – had not visited the school when she took the appointment.