Worksop: Head of Outwood Academies makes plea to parents

Schools closed to students as teachers take strike action (w131001-1h)
Schools closed to students as teachers take strike action (w131001-1h)

Two under fire schools in Worksop have defended the way they are run and say they are ‘disappointed’ and ‘saddened’ by recent criticism from parents.

Outwood Academy Portland and Outwood Academy Valley have both been the subject of strong words from some parents, who this week held a meeting to discuss the situation.

Over 1,900 people have now ‘liked’ the ‘Outwood Academy - Unhappy parents of pupils’ Facebook group and more emergency talks are set to take place.

The schools say that all they want is for children to receive a ‘first class’ education.

Sir Michael Wilkins, academy principal and chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies Trust, said in an interview with the Guardian: “We are really proud of Valley and Portland, they are two of our best academies.”

“We were disappointed obviously to hear that some people were not happy with the way the schools were going.”

“It just saddens us that not everybody can see the benefits of the leadership of Dr Smith and his team. It saddens us that it doesn’t concur with how they view education should be.”

Latest GCSE exam results at both academies placed them in the top five per cent of the country and Outwood Academy Portland has been recognised as one of the fastest turn-arounds for a secondary school, going from ‘special measures’ to ‘outstanding’ in two years.

“We rack our brains to find out why it is that people don’t view positively what is being offered to the community of Worksop,” Sir Michael said.

“Maybe people have got short memories, to think that two years ago, the only choice for parents in Worksop was to send them to a school which had a notice to improve or send them to a school that was in special measures, and that was the choice they had.”

“Now the choice is to send them to two outstanding schools, and I think that is the bit that disappoints us.”

Posts on the social media page claim that exclusions and detentions had been given for ‘looking out the window during a science exam’, and ‘accidentally dropping a discus during a PE lesson’.

The schools said that children were give enough chances in classes before receiving a detention.

Dr Philip Smith, associate executive principal, said: “We have had countless phone calls from families saying that they are behind us and that we are doing an amazing job and not to change anything that we are doing. They are not the kind of families to go on Facebook and write this, they don’t like to get in a fight on Facebook.”

Sir Michael added: “We are realistic, you are never going to win everybody over.”

“What I will say to parents who are positive and supportive is that we will continue to deliver for your child.”