Head teachers fury over school’s opt-out bid

Governors wanting to opt out of local authority control and turn Bethnal Green Technology College in London’s East End into a new academy school are facing a wave of opposition.

Headteachers from all over the East End turned up at the school’s open meeting last night to voice opposition to the move.

The heads are furious that Bethnal Green wants to go it alone after having �17 million of public funds invested in its rebuilding.

Future funding for Tower Hamlets schools will be hard hit by the move, they fear.

The school is one of the most improved in the country, but under the local authority, its board of governors chair Graham Taylor admitted.

“We’re not convinced that operating as a local authority school is the right way to do this any more,” he told the meeting. “Academy status is a promising way to do that.”

The visiting headteachers rejected the move—having agreed to let Bethnal Green have priority when Tower Hamlets was dishing out cash under the government’s ‘Building Schools’ for the Future programme.

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Sir Alisdair Macdonald, who turned around Morpeth Secondary from a failing school, told Mr Taylor: “You got what you wanted from Tower Hamlets—now you are saying thanks and want to be off.”

Bethnal Green had been given financial preference and now the heads felt there was ‘ingratitude’ in return.

Poplar’s Langdon Park Head Chris Dunne pointed out: “The local authority with the full agreement of all heads made Bethnal Green top priority for rebuilding, despite only taking a minority of students from Tower Hamlets.”

George Green’s Secondary head Kenny Frederick had allowed priority for the technology college, she told the meeting, while her school on the Isle of Dogs was “lucky to get new heaters and windows.”

No-one spoke in favour of an ‘academy,’ except Bethnal Green’s headteacher Mark Keary and his Head of Governors. Just one parent turned up.

Meanwhile, the National union of Teachers is campaigning against opting out of local authority control.

Its Tower Hamlets secretary Alex Kenny fears other East End schools might follow, with funds being sucked away from Tower Hamlets.

The school is running a three-week public consultation till the end of the month.