Feeder-school proposal opposed by humanists

08 March 2013

A PROPOSAL by Tudor Grange Academy, in Solihull, Birmingham, that two Church of England primaries - Tudor Grange Primary Academy St James, and St Alphege's - should act as feeder schools, is being opposed by the British Humanist Association (BHA).

The organisation is encouraging a campaign against the proposal from Tudor Grange, a former community school, which recently affiliated to the diocese of Birmingham.

The diocese's Director of Education, the Revd Jackie Hughes, said that Tudor Grange, a successful secondary, agreed to sponsor St James, formerly an undersubscribed junior school, as part of a multi-academy trust last year. At the same time, Mrs Hughes said, St Alphege's, a top-rated primary, agreed to support St James as a partner school to help raise standards "through further developing its distinctive nature as a Church of England School".

The proposed change in Tudor Grange's admissions criteria which followed was intended to acknowledge the partnership, and bring "excellent educational opportunities to an area of the borough which has been ear-marked for regeneration", she said.

Solihull Council's submission to a public consultation on the proposed change, which ends next Thursday, says that, in the long term, any preference for feeder schools in Tudor Grange's admission arrangements could adversely affect the chances of children living close to the school. The change could also encourage other local secondary schools to name feeder schools, it suggests.

Mrs Hughes said this week, however, that the priority of church schools across the diocese was to serve their local community and work in "best practice" partnerships and collaborations with other schools. "The whole purpose of the arrangement between Tudor Grange - which is an outstanding teaching school, and an academy sponsor in its own right - St James, and St Alphege is to bring excellent education provision to all the local communities and the families served by the schools."

A statement from the BHA, however, suggests that its interest in the issue extends beyond the proposed change in admissions criteria to the principle of community academies and schools affiliating to dioceses: "The BHA has expressed concern at the creeping influence of the Church over academies without a religious character such as Tudor Grange," it said.

Tribunal told to reconsider case.

The Employment Tribunal that cut compensation to Carol Hill, a dinner lady sacked from Great Tey C of E Primary School, Colchester, has been told to reconsider the amount by the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Mrs Hill was suspended from the school in 2009, after giving details of a playground bullying incident to the victim's parents. She was later sacked. In January 2011, an Employment Tribunal decided that she had been unfairly dismissed, but reduced her compensation (News, 11 February 2011).

A tribunal hearing last month said that the original tribunal had followed "an erroneous approach" in cutting the compensation.

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