Search

Troubled Westminster primary school taken under wing of Paddington Academy in borough first

06:45 15 November 2012

Classrooms: London Councils are calling for extra funding to tackle the school place shortage in London

Classrooms: London Councils are calling for extra funding to tackle the school place shortage in London

Archant

A troubled Westminster primary school is set to be the first to be taken under the wing of a leading secondary as it applies for academy status.

Wilberforce Primary, in Beethoven Street, Queen’s Park, looks likely to be included in the government’s first wave of 400 schools in the country to be converted into academy primaries.

It could be up and running by September.

If approved by the Department for Education, Wilberforce will be run by United Learning, the firm which oversees nearby Paddington Academy secondary school.

Wilberforce would directly employ all staff and receive funds straight from government, and would have greater freedom over what is taught.

Outstanding Ofsted rating

Under United Learning, Paddington Academy has raised its GCSE performance from 34 per cent of pupils attaining five or more A*-C GCSE grades including English and maths in 2009, to 75 per cent in 2012. It also boasts an outstanding Ofsted rating.

Wilberforce’s new headteacher, Coert Van Straaten, who started in September, would be working with Paddington Academy’s principal Oli Tomlinson, who would be its “executive principal”, providing staff with extra support, training and development.

Cllr Nickie Aiken, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for children, said she is optimistic that the future is looking “very bright” for the school, and hopes “Wilberforce can maximise the benefits of its working relationship with Paddington Academy and provide staff with additional support, training and development”.

But the news has not been universally welcomed. Zineb Serroukh, a parent with two children at the school, said: “I don’t think it necessarily takes academy status to achieve any of those things. The school was doing perfectly well in terms of the children’s emotional well-being and grades. I am not certain the claims they are making are credible at all.”

She added: “This seems to be a case of a Tory council imposing its government’s agenda.”

She said achievement at the school had not improved compared to its time under former head Angela Piddock, who retired in 2011, adding: “Angela was a huge loss to the school and there is now a very large number of parents who are similarly concerned about the school’s future.”

Wilberforce has been dogged by controversy since September 2011. Half of its teachers resigned in a single term after Michael Larkin was brought in as interim headteacher in September 2011, leading to parents launching a petition for his removal.

But school inspectors Ofsted and Westminster Council stood by him and his work – despite teachers’ claims they were working in a “climate of fear” and an independent investigator upholding allegations he bullied staff.

The chairman of governors reportedly resigned in disgust, and four teachers are pursuing employment tribunals for unfair dismissal.

Despite previous strong inspections, Ofsted put the school into special measures in May and Westminster removed the governing body and Mr Larkin.

Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, Westminster Labour leader and ward councillor for the school, said: “The most important thing is for the pupils at Wilberforce school to get the very best education.

“The events of the past year or so have been very disruptive and unsettling for pupils, parents and staff and the council must bear some responsibility for this unsatisfactory state of affairs.

“I hope that the new way forward delivers high standards, motivated pupils and staff and satisfied parents.”

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Members of Power up North London, Ian Grant,Nikki Brain,Vijay Bhopal & Ben Pearce,pictured at St Anne's Church Highgate where they have been given permission to install Solar Panels on the roof. Photo: Nigel Sutton

A Grade II-listed church in Highgate will open up to rays of light above, after a community group won planning permission for solar panels to be installed on the slope of its roof

Tracey Palmer, Macmillan information and support manager at The Whittington Hospital, and Angel Bellot, the hospital's PALS and complaints manager (Picture: Eve Harris)

Two brave Whittington workers will swap the wards for the sky (and then, hopefully, the ground) when they jump out of a plane for charity this weekend.

Yesterday, 15:02
A family enjoys fun in the sun. Picture: John Macdonald-Fulton

School’s out for summer – great for children, but for parents, it can be a challenge to find enough activities to keep youngsters entertained over the six-week break.

Yesterday, 13:43
Neelu Berry arrives at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court 07.10.15.

Two campaigners accused of spreading discredited claims of a Satanic paedophile ring have been told they must stay away from a vicar and his parishioners.

Yesterday, 13:18
Omar Bartocci, 13,  has been missing since Wednesday

Members of a Haringey rugby club have appealed for help finding a junior player who has gone missing.

Yesterday, 13:10
Elizabeth Dennis, Daisy Cripps 16, Amy Haysome 13, Millie Chapple 14, Poppy Kilbey 12, coach Becky Smith, Lindsey Wylie, and actress Michelle Collins ahead of this weekend's world record attempt

A Highgate charity is calling on the community’s help to dance its way into the record books.

Yesterday, 11:53
Kato Harris, who has been charged with three counts of rape

A teacher today told a jury that a 15-year-old schoolgirl who accused him of raping her in a classroom at her Camden school held a grugde against him after he commented on her “silly face” in a school photograph.

Yesterday, 11:52
Zack Newman and supporters with a petition demanding that Nigel Farage be prosecuted, at Kentish Town Police Station on 20.07.16.

A petition was handed in at Kentish Town police station yesterday calling for the arrest of UKIP leader Nigel Farage for ‘inciting racial hatred’ during the EU referendum campaign.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All entrants can get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now