Campaigner’s plea for support

Richard Claxton outside woldgate college
Richard Claxton outside woldgate college

A CAMPAIGNER against plans to convert Woldgate College into an academy is urging more concerned parents to take action before it is too late

Richard Claxton, of Rowley Mews, Pocklington, has been trying to assemble a group to oppose the Pocklington school’s proposal but claims parents are wary of openly criticising the idea.

He said: “People are reluctant to complain against this. Parents don’t want to be seen protesting against the school.

“If people don’t take a stand on this issue it will be too late.”

He added: “For me it is privatisation, pure and simple.”

Woldgate’s application to convert to stand-alone academy status was approved by the Department for Education in September. The school had consulted parents in June to inform them about the plan and will be holding a second round of consultation next month to speak to parents, staff and pupils.

The school’s headteacher Jeff Bower said: “In September we heard that our application had been successful but we established in June that, in the event of a successful application, we would delay a final decision on whether to proceed with the conversion until we had been able to carry out due diligence and consult with stakeholders for a second time.”

Mr Claxton, who is the parent of two Woldgate pupils, wants the next consultation to be more balanced and would like to see a representative from the Anti Academies Alliance attend so parents get to hear both sides of the argument.

He stressed: “It’s not a consultation unless parents hear from both sides.”

The 44-year-old believes parents are “completely in the dark about the implications of academy status.”

Changing to an academy will see Woldgate removed from under the umbrella of East Riding of Yorkshire Council and run as an independent school with direct funding from central government.

Mr Claxton argues that this will lead to the loss of “democratic accountability” at the school.

“If we, the parents, didn’t like the way school things were being run we can contact the local authority and can contact councillors,” he said.

“We have political power to do something about it. If the school becomes an academy there will be no democratic control over the school at all.

“If there is a problem with the way the school is run we would have to go the Department for Education in London. How is that going to work?

“We should be able to contact the local council the way we can do now.”

He also has concerns about who would own the school grounds and how many governors parents would be able to elect.

The school will consult staff and students in early January and will hold a special meeting with parents on 17 January. It hopes to make a final decision on conversion by the end of next month.