Head teacher moves to quash rumours of school closure

Ernulf Academy

Ernulf Academy - Credit: Archant

The management team at Ernulf Academy in St Neots has been forced to issue a statement to quash rumours that the school is on the brink of closure.

Comments are said to have origi-nated from a “small number of parents” in recent days, which suggested the future of the school, in Barford Road, was unclear, forcing the academy’s trust board to respond.

“I can assure you that contrary to these rumours, there are no plans to close Ernulf Academy,” Karl Wainwright, chairman of the St Neots Learning Partnership Trust, stated in a letter to parents.

Although the letter seeks to offer reassurance to parents, it does however, acknowledge that student numbers remain “very low” and that talks have already began to “secure the future viability” of the school.

It also raises concerns about the announcement last month that a new free school will be accepting pupils in September 2018.

The letter refers to some of the problems the school has faced in recent years, which include the issuing of a warning notice from the Department for Education (DfE) in 2015 after a poor set of Ofsted results.

The then head teacher, Scott Preston, “left by mutual consent” and the governing body made significant changes to the senior leadership team and named Rick Carroll as chief executive officer of both St Neots secondary schools.

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Behavioural structures and systems were put in place and new teachers were appointed in an attempt to bring the school back into line and satisfy Ofsted.

“In the two years since, I am delighted by the transformational changes that have taken place at Ernulf Academy,” Mr Wainwright continued in the letter.

“As documented in recent Ofsted and DfE reports and monitoring letters, Ernulf Academy is now a positive learning environment.”

The school was also banking on increasing numbers from the first wave of proposed new homes at Loves Farm and Wintringham Park but work has not yet started.

“Numbers at Ernulf remain very low. Such that we have significant concer ns over its economic viability.”

Mr Wainwright goes on to tell parents the trust has “investigated a number of possibilities to re-configure the provision for secondary education in St Neots”.

He adds: “The trust has started conversations about how to secure the future viability of Ernulf Academy. One possible cause of action is to investigate whether an alternative trust has greater capacity to run Ernulf.”