AN INTERIM board brought in to replace the ousted governors of a failing, closure-threatened school will be able to make ”instant decisions, instantly carried out”, one of its members said last night.
The Interim Executive Board (IEB) at Allendale Middle School, Northumberland, will have powers the former board of governors was stripped of following an adverse Ofsted report.
The former governors refused to accept their removal by Northumberland County Council, but Education Secretary Michael Gove rejected their appeal.
Now the school – facing possible closure by September 2013 – will have an new five-strong set of governors while its future is sorted out.
County councillor Colin Horncastle, who is part of the new IEB, said: “We will have regular meetings every fortnight and extra meetings if anything urgent comes up. We just need the go-ahead from the Department for Education next week, then this will be in place right until the school closes – if it does close.
“The difference is that of the five people on the IEB, four are out-and-out specialists and I am the one who can still attend action group meetings and link with the community.
“The new IEB can make instant decisions, instantly carried out – whereas the former governors were not in a position to do that, because they had the budget taken off them.”
The IEB will be chaired by school improvement consultant Alan Sample, a former Prudhoe headteacher. The other members are county council education adviser Jonathan Brown, county council human resources manager Suzanne Hendey, and Andrew Morsman, chairman of governors at Samuel King’s School in Alston, Cumbria.
Allendale Middle School was branded “inadequate” in an Ofsted summer report which placed it in special measures – the bottom grading.
In the aftermath, county education chiefs mooted closure, while conversion to academy status remains a second option.
The existing school governors set new ground when they became the first in Northumberland to resist an IEB, but they were left to operate without a budget.
Now Coun Horncastle says their action has cost the school five weeks of valuable time. Parents are fighting to save the school while the council moves towards closure and integration of the 100-plus pupils into other schools in the Haydon Bridge Partnership.
“I am never critical of people like governors or parish councillors, who give up their spare time for no money,” Coun Horncastle added. “But I was critical that the governing body objected to the IEB.
“The governing body had no budget to work with, they had 15 working days to put their objection, and then the Department for Education had to make a decision.
“All in all, it has held the school up for five weeks. They have just been treading water. They were not in a position to carry out their duties, or to do anything, because they had no budget.”