Government steps in to aid failing Derbyshire school

Alfreton Grange Arts College.
Alfreton Grange Arts College.

A leading councillor has spoken out after the Government stepped in to take over the running of a failing school.

Alfreton Grange Arts College was placed in special measures by Ofsted inspectors in 2013 and since then Jonathan Fawcett, headteacher of neighbouring Swanwick Hall School, has been drafted in as the executive head to lead improvements with help from Derbyshire County Council.

However, the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan has now intervened and appointed a replacement governing body – called an Interim Executive Board – to run the school. The move means the 550-pupil secondary school could become an academy.

Councillor Kevin Gillott, the county council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said the Government’s intervention could set back the progress already made by the the authority.

He said: “I don’t think this is the right approach. The support we’re giving the school and the work done by the executive head and governors is starting to pay off and I believe this latest move could set back progress.

“It is not in the best interests of pupils or the community and it is being done without any consultation with parents or local people.”

The council said it had improved attendance, provided extra training for teaching staff and boosted support for pupils with special needs since Alfreton Grange was put in special measures.

Last July, Ofsted inspectors visited the school and said it was making reasonable progress.

Cllr Gillot added: “We realise there’s still a long way to go, but with commitment from us along with continued hard work by the head, staff, governors and pupils, Alfreton Grange has the capacity to improve further and deliver the kind of education children deserve.”

The school was put in special measures because it was found to be falling short in teaching, learning and leadership.