Crisis at Lodge Park Academy deepens as teachers brand school ‘unsafe and chaotic’ in savage attack on David Ross Education Trust

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Teachers at a Corby school have launched an astonishing public rebuke of the academy trust they work for.

Lodge Park Academy staff have spoken openly about the ‘unsafe and chaotic’ environment they are expected to work in.

Teachers have told this newspaper that they often feel threatened in school and are no longer willing to stand by and stay silent.

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Staff who are part of several unions are said to be close to taking industrial action following an indicative ballot.

The situation at Lodge Park Academy in Corby is said to be 'unsafe'. Image: National WorldThe situation at Lodge Park Academy in Corby is said to be 'unsafe'. Image: National World
The situation at Lodge Park Academy in Corby is said to be 'unsafe'. Image: National World

It comes after a decade of severe disruption at the Shetland Way school, which is part of the David Ross Education Trust (DRET). A ‘revolving door’ of headteachers continued last month when the current principal confirmed she was also leaving, with whistle-blowers telling our reporters they had had enough.

Now National Education Union (NEU) members have now launched a petition to try to force change at the school.

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DRET say that many of the improvements they are demanding are already being carried out.

National Education Union Organiser Elodie Fleet says: “Lodge Park Academy is unsafe and chaotic with immediate changes needed to support the students, staff and the local community if we are to create a school we are proud of.

"NEU Members want Lodge Park to be the best school it can be so that students have the best possible chance for success."

The petition says that ‘consistency has been absent’ at the school for 12 years and blames DRET for failing ‘time and time again’ to make the right decisions ‘through a revolving door in the leadership of the school’

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It goes on: “Over a 12 year period the school has seen 10 different principals - how can this be considered effective or be a stable base for success?

“Over the last 18 months the actions of DRET have become more and more questionable, reactive and chaotic resulting in a spike in defiant and at times violent behaviour, a significant increase in student truancy and an exodus of experienced and well respected staff. Unless things change and change quickly the only foreseeable outcome is that chaos will continue to reign at LPA.

“Staff have shared concerns and offered solutions including employing more support staff, but DRET only wants to employ more and more people into leadership positions.

"Despite the school being strained financially and an advertisement has recently gone out for a principal with a salary of up to £114,000.

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“The staff have worked tirelessly to support the students but a tipping point has been reached. We need to stand up for the students of Corby and feel that DRET's continued failures and inability to see LPA as unique rather than a copy of other schools within the trust.

"As a staff body we care deeply about the school and providing a safe learning environment for all students, but sadly this is not the experience we currently have thanks to the mismanagement of the school by DRET.”

The petition makes six demands which include implementing a dedicated behaviour team to support disruptive students and providing much improved pastoral care and smaller ratios in inclusion rooms.

Staff also want a tailored behaviour policy for Lodge Park and Maglocks installed throughout the school to prevent ‘internal truancy’, which they say is a ‘risk to pupil and staff safety’.

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They are also asking DRET to stop brining ‘unknown’, senior staff from other DRET schools to improve behaviour. They say this way of working has been a ‘failure’ and a more consistent approach is needed.

The final request is that DRET properly negotiates with union reps including regular, meaningful timetabled discussions.

One member of staff told our reporters: “We’ve had enough. The children of Corby are being failed and we cannot stay silent. We’ve tried and tried to talk to DRET but they don’t want to know.

"When they issued their last statement in the Northants Telegraph, which suggested that the staff speaking out were not committed, it was the last straw for many of us.”

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A DRET spokeswoman said: “We have been advised by the National Education Union that their members have been balloted for possible industrial action through an indicative ballot.

“Whilst this is disappointing news, we will continue to meet with the union to have a constructive discussion to address all the concerns raised by members and we are hopeful that we can reach an agreement.

They said that they had already made some immediate changes including; the addition of three extra pastoral managers and an assistant principal and senior leadership team being timetabled in the internal suspension room.

Their statement continued: “We are reviewing best use of the pastoral team and an advert for an additional pastoral manager will be shared soon.

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“The inclusion area is overseen by the SENCO who is a member of the senior leadership team. A fence has been erected at the back of the Brady block as a deterrent to truants.

“Maglocks are being installed, which began last week. Staggered lunches have been implemented.

“We have relaunched the Lodge Park house system to promote teamwork and a sense of belonging. Additional sporting and musical opportunities and activities have been introduced to add to the programme for our young people at Lodge Park.

“Tried and tested, highly approved, knowledge-rich curricula have been implemented to enhance the education we provide at Lodge Park.

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“We will continue to do all we can to address the points raised by members, whilst continuing to drive towards an all-round, excellent education at LPA.

“Although no further action has yet been suggested, we have made clear to families that LPA would not close in the event of any industrial action.”

Parents were also sent the same statement by email yesterday.

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