Management of Harrogate's Grove academy set to change

Management of the school that looks after some of the Harrogate district's most at-risk students is set to change.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 12:10 pm
Harrogate's Grove Academy.

A report by North Yorkshire County Council states that Delta, the trust which currently manages Harrogate's Grove Academy, is in "advanced discussions" with a new management body, which the National Education Union (NEU) has claimed is Wellspring Academy Trust.

According to the council, the new management has "a track record in special school and alternative provision" and have been approved to take over the sponsorship of the Grove under new funding arrangements.

"Delta Multi Academy Trust (MAT) is in advanced discussions with the Regional Schools Commissioner to re-broker the sponsorship of the Grove to another MAT," a report to be presented to Harrogate and Knaresborough's Area Constituency Committee states.

The move comes after the council earlier this year voted in favour of implementing a new model of Alternative Provision, which will see prevention funding shifted from its pupil referral service (PRS) to new school partnerships with mainstream schools, in a bid to address spiralling high needs education costs.

In a statement, NEU members and Grove staff members Dave Hamilton and Anna Burton-Cole said staff were visited in October by leaders of the Wellspring Academy Trust.

"Timelines are unclear but there was a suggestion the take over could be as early as January," they said.

"What was abundantly clear was that the severity of the council’s cuts mean that the current staff and resources cannot be maintained very far into next year and redundancies are expected.

"Experienced staff all feel that the standards of the ‘outstanding’ provision will inevitably deteriorate, as the complex needs of the children will have to be met by fewer, cheaper, more inexperienced and less qualified staff and in larger classes."

Wellspring Academy Trust manages 23 schools across the north of England. They were contacted for comment.

Delta did not return multiple phone calls or emails regarding the potential change.

Elsewhere in the report to be presented to councillors, it is noted that "progress in transforming the model of Alternative Provision in Harrogate has not been made at the same rate as in the other four localities".

The report adds that discussions between education providers and the council have seen the authority agree to 'front load' the place funding to aid budget stability at pupil referral services and other schools across the district.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter