School’s future is in the Secretary of State’s hands

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education
Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education
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Council bosses say the future of Tollgate Primary School now rests in the hands of the Secretary of State.

With the school receiving academy orders on February 11 and the council beginning the process of installing an Interim Executive Board (IEB) in January, confusion arose as to what would happen next.

When questioned by the Bury Free Press whether the council would withdraw its application to install an IEB in light of the school’s recent academy order, Cllr Lisa Chambers, cabinet member for schools, said the process would have to run its course.

She said: “We had already started the process with the Secretary of State and we don’t know what his decision will be.

“We would carry on with a process and wouldn’t halt it even though the other scenario had occurred.”

A county council spokesman said: “We informed the school at the beginning of January that unless they could produce a satisfactory plan of action, we would use our powers of intervention.

“Their plan was not considered satisfactory so we applied to the Secretary of State to set up an IEB.

“We began this process before the governors applied for academy status.

“The IEB will provide immediate support for the school ahead of the Secretary of State’s final decision on the academy proposal which he will make after due process has been completed including consultation with parents and others.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “In January, Tollgate’s governing body voted to become an academy under sponsorship of the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust.

“This was agreed by Lord Nash on 11 February and an Academy Order was issued.”