Parent of Downham Market Academy student says MP should be ‘held to account’ for school failings

Downham Market Academy.
Downham Market Academy.

A parent whose son attends a school which was recently deemed “inadequate” has said she believes elected representatives should be held accountable.

Frances Rayner, whose son attends Downham Market Academy (DMA), said she and other parents have been concerned about their children’s education for some time.

Ms Rayner said: “I believe Elizabeth Truss, who has been our MP since 2010, needs to be held to account.”

She said as the school went into special measures in 2013, while Ms Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, was junior education minister, this failing happened “on her watch”.

“At this time any negative reporting that may aim the inadequate Ofsted report at teachers and pupils will only serve to make our community feel even more inadequate about what can only be deemed as a generation of young people being let down by the leadership of this country,” she added.

But Ms Truss insisted she has been working with officials to ensure things improve.

She said: “I have been pressing the regional schools commissioner in a series of meetings for action on DMA to make sure students are getting a good education but also the wider issue of attracting quality academy chains to South West Norfolk.”

She described the recent announcement of a new sponsor – Cambridgeshire Educational Trust – as “a positive step in the right direction”.

Ms Truss added: “The trust has a track record of excellent results. I will continue to check on progress to ensure the promised improvements are delivered and will be meeting local parents this week to make sure they are being listened to.

“Since 2010 I have visited the school and met teaching staff and students on multiple occasions so I am fully aware of the commitment by all to see improvement.

“I have met the trust and will continue to work with all involved to secure rapid progress at the school.”

Cambridgeshire Educational Trust’s CEO has said they are “delighted” to work with DMA on its “improvement journey”.

The trust’s founding school is Chesterton Community College which is in the top five per cent of schools in the country for achievement.

This work has started with the appointment of Rolf Purvis, as head at the school.

The trust’s chief executive, Lucy Scott, said she is working with the senior team at DMA to ensure a successful transition.

Plans are already in place for a five day, fresh start training programme in September to launch the new approach at the academy.

She said: “Downham’s community deserves a great school and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to achieve this.”