Councillors speak out against Chadwell Heath academy proposals

Warren School

Warren School - Credit: Archant

Leading councillors have expressed serious concerns about the possibility of a Chadwell Heath secondary school applying for academy status.

The governing body at Warren Comprehensive, in Whalebone Lane North, are currently in discussions over the application, it confirmed, although a formal bid to the Department for Education has not been made.

Council leader Liam Smith said the move would be a “backwards step” which will impact on education across Barking and Dagenham.

He added: “Only last week, a report was published by the Academies Commission which reported that moving to academy status could impact on social cohesion and integration because of the recruitment and selection methods academy schools use.

“That report stated that a number of academy schools are finding covert methods to select potential pupils, a practice that - if adopted here - could cause real problems for the family of schools in our borough.”

In a joint statement, Warren head Francois Van Rensburg and chair of governors Sara-Jane Scrace said the school was inviting staff governors, staff members and union representatives to investigate the possibility of becoming an academy.

They said: “No decision will be made without the full consultation of staff, parents and the local community.

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“We have a genuine belief in each student’s right and ability to achieve success at various levels and any decision we make will have our moral purpose and values at its heart.”

Cllr John White, cabinet member for children’s services, said it was “an odd time” to consider academy status when the council had recently invested £600,000 in Warren school buildings.

He added: “It would be far better for the school to keep its current status and work with us to make further improvements to make sure the school flourishes in the future.”

Thames View Infants in Bastable Avenue, Barking became an academy last year despite opposition from councillors.