Thursday, 17 March 2016

Charles Dickens School. Time For Some Honesty

Here's a letter I have sent to the Thanet Gazette and Thanet Extra. The lack of openness and honesty by the leadership of Charles Dickens School is appalling. Parents and students have a right to know exactly what  has happened.

Dear Editor, As a parent of a Charles Dickens School (CDS) student, I  was shocked to learn about the financial crisis  faced  by the school.  I am not alone in this. My website article about this terrible situation had over 600 hits within 48 hours of its publication (Google “Ian Driver Green Thanet”).
In their letter to parents of 11th March, Executive Head, Kim  Stoner,  and Chair of Governors, Bryan Mitchell, explained  that a high level KCC  investigation has been conducted into CDS finances; that CDS governors have now  handed control of the school budget back to KCC; that St George’s School, which had been supporting CDS following its poor OFSTED report, will be cutting its links with CDS in July.  That the school, without any parental or student consultation, will be transformed into a “sponsored academy” as quickly as possible. These are the signs of a school caught up in  financial and managerial meltdown. But rather than being open and transparent about the serious difficulties faced by CDS,  Stoner and Mitchell  downplayed the massive problems  by misleadingly  describing them  as merely  “challenging circumstances”.
Ms Stoner has previously stressed the importance of developing a strong community at CDS with better links between staff, students, parents and governors. I agree with her.  However a strong community requires a culture of openness, accountability, trust and consultation. Something sadly missing from her  letter to parents  of 11th March.
To restore confidence in the CDS leadership  I call on Ms Stoner and Mr Mitchell to make public the findings of the KCC review of  CDS finances. They must also explain why the CDS  leadership feel it necessary to  transform the school   into a sponsored academy, especially when  OFSTED has just produced a report which slates many sponsored academies for providing sub-standard education.
Finally to develop a strong community at CDS it might be a good idea for the leadership to consult with parents, carers and students about whether they agree with handing the management of CDS over to a profit making sponsored academy. Surely a strong school community should take account of the views of students and parents, rather than arrogantly imposing solutions from the top?
 Ian Driver

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