Parents are very worried about the situation at Millbank Primary Academy and have asked Labour Councillors to help them secure an investigation into the Futures Group, which controls the school along with three other schools in the area – Pimlico Academy, Churchill Gardens Primary Academy and Pimlico Primary Academy – and is run by Education Minister Lord Nash and his wife.
Here is the letter we have sent to Michael Gove
Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Secretary of State for Education
Great Smith Street
Dear Mr Gove
I am writing to let you know of my very serious concerns about the situation at Millbank Academy.
As you may know, Millbank’s acting head teacher, Diane George, has been moved across to take over as head teacher of Churchill Gardens school from January. This is the latest in a long line of recent events at the school.
1. First Millbank lost day-to-day management by its head teacher Alyson Russen, who was promoted to be executive head of Millbank, Pimlico Primary and Churchill Gardens in September and spends much of her time out of Millbank Academy.
2. The school then lost its acting deputy head, Kelly Teddy, who was moved across to Pimlico Primary when Annaliese Briggs resigned just one month into this term.
3. The school has now lost its acting headteacher to Churchill Gardens.
4. In addition, the SENCo has also resigned.
The result of all of these changes in the last few months, is that there is no one in full-time, day-to-day control of Millbank Academy. This is even more worrying when you consider that the leadership structure that was so highly praised in the Outstanding May Ofsted inspection has completely disappeared from the day-to-day operation of the school.
Furthermore, the successful, popular and locally-developed creative curriculum that had been used for the last few years (and was responsible for the Outstanding OFSTED report) was scrapped in September by the Futures management and has yet to be replaced. Teachers are literally having to write the curriculum as they go along. You will not be surprised to know that this is not working and staff morale is at rock bottom.
My concerns also relate to those of parents who have contacted me about their fears. One parent tells me that she “is up in arms as her children, and other kids in the school, suddenly do not want to go. They are crying as they enter school. The teachers know the curriculum is crap and are forced to work with it and everyone is very unhappy. I am not sure if you know that many parents are ringing around to other schools – St. Gabriel’s, Burdett-Coutts, St. George’s Hanover Square, St. Barnabas, trying to move their children out of Millbank.”
Parents have also asked me what would happen if an emergency occurred at the school, given the absence of day-to-day management of Millbank School.
I have already alerted Westminster City Council’s Chief Executive about my general concerns about the stewardship of the schools controlled by Futures and am copying this to him and his senior colleagues, as well as to the Leader of Westminster City Council and other Councillors.
I originally wrote to the Prime Minister about my concerns and the need for an independent inquiry in to the Futures Group. Your complacent response to my earlier letter reinforces my view that you are not the right person to deal with these matters as Lord Nash, the founder of Futures, is one of your Ministers and you will remain loyal to him whatever information you receive from me, from parents or from anyone else.
I am therefore copying this letter to Mr Cameron in the hope that good sense can triumph over blind party political loyalty. The education of the children at the schools controlled by the Futures Group is far too important.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group