Walverden School decision delay

Walverden Primary School, Nelson.'Photo Ben Parsons
Walverden Primary School, Nelson.'Photo Ben Parsons

LANCASHIRE County Council has welcomed a Government decision to wait for the latest Key Stage 2 results before deciding on the future of Walverden Primary School.

The county council had been instructed by the Department for Education to issue a warning notice to the Nelson school, the first stage in a process leading to a forced change to academy status.

However, the council wrote to the DfE to explain it did not believe the school should be forced to become an academy, particularly when it already had a robust improvement plan in place that is expected to lead to an upturn in pupils’ performance. Meanwhile, the school appealed to Ofsted over its interpretation of its academic results.

Ofsted has now discussed the situation with the DfE and agreed to put the review of the warning notice and the appeal on hold until the latest Key Stage 2 results are available.

Welcoming this development, County Coun. Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “I welcome this decision which seems to be the result of applying some common sense and which is exactly what we advised the DfE to do at the outset.

“Our argument has been that Walverden has been improving, with our support, and that the school’s improvement plan will ensure pupils receive the high quality education they deserve.

“It seems eminently sensible to wait for the latest set of results, which we expect to show the school continuing on the right track, before any decision on the school’s future is made.”

Margaret Thacker, headteacher at Walverden Primary School, added: “We have appreciated all the support the school has received from parents, Lancashire County Council, local councillors and the Pendle MP, and hope the issue can be resolved as soon as possible.

“Our provisional results are the best we have ever achieved with the vast majority of pupils making very good progress from their baseline scores on entry into our reception classes.”

Philip Berry, chairman of governors, said: “Lancashire County Council provides a great deal of support to Walverden Primary, so much so I would suggest they are among the foremost providers of education services in England.

“I doubt any of the academy chains are capable of equalling the quality of service provided by Lancashire. It would be foolish to the point of recklessness for a county-maintained school to turn its back on a quality service in favour of organisations that are still unproven.

“Walverden Primary is a governor-controlled school maintained and supported by the local authority. The governors look forward to being able to continue working cooperatively with Lancashire to build on our recent successes and to move the school forward for the benefit of the children of Nelson.”