Trustee chairman pledges to listen and act after tough times at academy schools

November 03 2015

THE chairman of trustees at the Ridings Federation of Academies has spoken of “tough and turbulent” times that have seen strikes by teachers and the departure of overall principal Beverley Martin.

THE chairman of trustees at the Ridings Federation of Academies has spoken of “tough and turbulent” times that have seen strikes by teachers and the departure of overall principal Beverley Martin.
But Athanasis Lazarides pledged to listen to staff and parents of youngsters at the federation schools, including Yate and Winterbourne international academies, and act on feedback.
He said trustees were working positively with the teaching unions and would appoint an interim chief executive principal before making a permanent appointment.
But he said: “At the heart of these major events we have to bring back focus to one key factor - our students - the fundamental core interest group of our actions and decisions.”
Complaints surrounded Ms Martin’s leadership methods during her short time at the federation.
Unions claimed she had adopted a “confrontational approach” with those whose efforts were needed to turn the Winterbourne academy around after it received a poor Ofsted report.
Some 100 teachers walked out on three days at Winterbourne, alleging a breakdown in relations between the majority of teachers and management, but further action was suspended to allow a review into the concerns of the teachers to take place.
An online petition then emerged calling for Ms Martin to go but, as the Voice newspaper series revealed on Facebook last month, she went on leave and was no longer in charge. Having only joined the federation in the spring, it was later announced she would depart at the end of October.
Mr Lazarides, in a letter as recently elected trustee chairman, said: “It has been a tough and turbulent start to the academic year for all.
“During this turbulent time we have met with parents and teachers and have listened to your comments, your feedback and are doing our utmost to respond to the many letters received.
“I am aware that we need to engage more with you and am working on a more effective communication strategy that will deliver this. We are listening, and we are acting.”
He said Ofsted inspections at both Yate and Winterbourne academies “clearly state there is much work to be done”.
But he said inspectors felt the improvement programmes and structure were fit for purpose, although at such an early stage they wanted to see evidence that such plans were working.
Mr Lazarides also predicted that negotiations with the teacher unions should be finalised by Christmas.