Hundreds gather to back school’s campaign to address ‘crimes of the past’

Dozens of people attended the meeting at Sawtry Academy.

Dozens of people attended the meeting at Sawtry Academy. - Credit: Archant

Parents and supporters of Sawtry Village Academy gathered to show their support for the launch of a new school campaign.

At a public meeting which took place last Wednesday (September 20), teachers urged members of the community to support a drive to invest in the future of the school, while redressing what it called the “crimes and neglect of the past”.

The school said hundreds of parents and members of the community turned up to the event.

The campaign comes following the guilty pleas of the former principal of Sawtry Community College, James Stewart, to eight counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of misconduct in public office.

The former vice principal, Alan Stevens, has also pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position. All the charges relate to the pair’s time at the college.

Following Mr Stewart’s departure, Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) took over the governance of the school in January 2015.

Mark Woods, chief executive officer of CMAT, said: “We have come a long way since 2014 but we cannot ignore the truth that the crimes and neglect of the school’s former leaders have put the long-term sustainability of the school at risk.

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“For far too long, the academy’s students, staff and community have put up with shoddy buildings that are not fit for use. We have had great support from our local councillors and our MP – we need to help them to make our case to Cambridgeshire County Council and the Education Funding Agency by showing how strongly we feel that the academy has been neglected and that now is the time to put that right. ”

Members of the community can show their support by following the campaign’s Facebook page, and signing the campaign’s petition at

Sarah Wilson, principal of Sawtry Village Academy, said: “I am overwhelmed with how the community has come together to support the academy in this time of need. “When James Stewart resigned in 2014 the school was in special measures and was facing a financial crisis with serious personnel issues, a declining student roll and without the leadership capacity to recover alone.

“The school has already made significant progress in all areas and has one of the very best sixth forms in the county, but for too long these crimes have cast a shadow over our school and it is time now to make up for the mistakes and lack of leadership in the past and invest in making our buildings fit for purpose.”