Waltham Holy Cross Primary School

1st November 2019

A decision to convert Waltham Holy Cross Primary School in Waltham Abbey to an Academy Trust should be put on hold until the case has been reviewed by the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing has said.

Dame Eleanor has referred the issue to the Ombudsman and asked the Minister to halt the procedure pending the Ombudsman’s reply. It was nevertheless announced last night that the transfer would go ahead from today (November 1).

Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System, in a letter to Dame Eleanor, said it has been "to the detriment of the school and its pupils" that almost two years since Ofsted judged the school to be 'inadequate', and despite it being a legal requirement that the school converts to academy status and receives the support of a sponsor, that the transfer has still not happened.

Lord Agnew added that "significant and exceptional action" has been taken to investigate the allegations about the teaching and assessment practices adopted by NET Academies Trust and the integrity of its senior leadership".

His letter adds: "I do take allegations such as these extremely seriously and it was right that we paused the conversion to undertake a thorough investigation, despite this causing further delays.

"However, with that investigation complete and having considered its findings, I remain of the view that NETAT is the right sponsor for this school.

"This is not simply based on the finding of the investigation but is also based on the trust’s proven ability to turnaround schools in Essex and its sound financial position and good governance.

"Taking this all into account and that the school is still not receiving the full benefits of being a sponsored academy 22 months since it was judged my view is the conversion of the school should go ahead."

Dame Eleanor said: "Over the last two years I have consistently spoken with everyone involved, convened meetings at the highest level and tried everything that I possibly could but Ministers have decided not to change the plan."

Dame Eleanor has now referred the matter to the Parliamentary Ombudsman calling for a review of the process by which the transfer decision was made.  

Dame Eleanor Laing MP

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