Plans to make headteachers redundant at three Bedford schools put on hold - the full story

Claire Smith, chief executive of HEART Academies Trust
Claire Smith, chief executive of HEART Academies Trust

A controversial plan to make the headteachers and other senior staff redundant at three schools has been put on hold following a public outcry.

Last week the Times & Citizen reported that the HEART Academies Trust was set to implement the scheme at Cauldwell, Shackleton and Shortstown primary schools.

Members of the SSC Action Group, which is bringing together unhappy families of students from Cauldwell, Shackleton and Shortstown primary schools. Karen Chamberlain (left) and Kim Owens (right)

Members of the SSC Action Group, which is bringing together unhappy families of students from Cauldwell, Shackleton and Shortstown primary schools. Karen Chamberlain (left) and Kim Owens (right)

But parents reacted angrily to the news, which they said appeared to be a “done deal”.

And on Wednesday HEART put the plans on hold while a mediator is brought in from the Department for Education.

A HEART spokesman told the Times & Citizen: “We’ve reflected on the views of parents, and have decided to take a pause and not make any decision until the mediation is complete.”

The mediation process is expected to take a number of weeks, with an initial meeting on Monday.

However HEART had already advertised for the new role of an executive headteacher who would oversee all three primary schools, and the interviews for that role will still take tomorrow and Friday (October 18-19).

Claire Smith, chief executive of the HEART Academies Trust, added: “We would like to offer our sincere apologies to the parents of our primary schools for the upset and distress they have felt over the past 10 days. This was never our intention.

“Ultimately, I believe we share the same goal which is to ensure that the children receive the best education we can give them.”

One of the final efforts by HEART to get parents onside was a public meeting held on Tuesday evening.

However an insider privately admitted that this was a failure, with technical issues meaning that parents could not hear what was said from the stage and school bosses could not hear questions from the floor.

The Times & Citizen met with parents this week from the SSC Action Group, which is bringing together families from the three schools.

They outlined their main concerns as being the lack of consultation, the loss of experienced staff, and the proposal to scrap the three separate boards of governors to have one single set of governiors who would oversee all three schools.

Parent Kim Owens said: “We feel it’s a done deal before parents or teachers have even been informed.

“The trust also says there has been ‘inaccurate information’ put out. We’d like to know what is being said that is not accurate.”

Read more:

Last week’s story - school bosses accused of “betrayal”
Parents response this week
Reasons for the proposed changes
Details of the prioposed changes
What comes next?