This is a story they don’t want you to know. Much of it had to be prised from the grip of officials in Whitehall and the local town hall. Yet it demands to be told, because it shows how democracy and accountability are being drained from our schools, and how a surreal battle now rages over who knows what’s best for a child: the parents and teachers, or remote officials and financiers.
The school in question is Waltham Holy Cross primary in Essex. Helping on a school run last week, I found an entire small world. It was the last day of term, and teachers joined hands to form a human arch. The bell rang and all those leaving to start secondary ran under their teachers’ arms. Parents whooped while staff hugged overwhelmed pupils. There was barely a dry eye in the playground.
More than a school, this is a community – yet officials judge it a failure.
Just days before last Christmas, when a classroom’s mind is normally on the nativity play, Ofsted inspectors dropped by. Three long months later, they damned Waltham Holy Cross as “inadequate”. In the Conservatives’ “all-out war” on mediocre education, that is all the excuse needed to take it off the local authority and turn it into an academy. A trust called Net Academies will soon turn it into a “model school”.