MP Lucy Frazer hopes parents ‘feel engaged’ after 50 of them turn up to special meeting to explain the way forward for Ely College

Ely College Principal Evelyn Forde (left) with MP Lucy Frazer (centre) and Tricia Pritchard, chairma

Ely College Principal Evelyn Forde (left) with MP Lucy Frazer (centre) and Tricia Pritchard, chairman of the governors - Credit: Archant

Over 50 parents attended a “constructive” meeting at Ely College to hear how the school aims to improve following critical assessments by Ofsted.

The meeting follows a follow-up report by Ofsted inspector Paul Tomkow who said the school wasn’t “taking effective action towards removal of special measures.”

SE Cambs MP Lucy Frazer called the meeting as she believed “it would be helpful to bring together those involved in the management of the school to explain how they are taking the school forward”.

The meeting was attended by the school’s principal, Evelyn Forde, chair of governers Tricia Pritchard, CfBT School’s Trust chief executive Chris Tweedale and regional schools commissioner for the East of England Tim Coulson.

During the meeting, it was revealed that the school would be transferring to a local trust and ending its association with CfBT.

Mr Tweedale said: “We’ve had a hard conversation with ourselves about how the school can best be supported going forward, hence the decision to enter talks with the DfE about transferring the school to a more local trust.

“It’s a tough decision for us, because Ely is very much part of the CST family, but the fact is it’s becoming increasingly clear that the school needs ‘boots on the ground’ as it were, to provide levels of support it needs to rapidly secure the improvements required.

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“It is relatively isolated, geographically, from our other schools and coupled with the fact we have no plans to expand in this region, it makes sense for Ely to be moved into a local cluster.”

Mrs Pritchard said: “Being a governor is about providing support and challenge – the right support and the right challenge. The governing body is fully supporting the leadership team as they strive to implement the changes that need to be made in order to accelerate pupils’ progress and to accelerate the speed at which the school comes out of special measures.

“The governing body is also calling the leadership team to account by asking challenging and insightful questions. Turning round a school doesn’t happen overnight but there should be no slippage.

Ms Forde said: “My vision in April [when she took over as principal] remains the same vision today – for Ely College to be the school of choice and that we become a school that delivers excellent outcomes for students.

“I know we are not there yet; this was noted in our recent HMI inspection which further highlighted the areas for rapid improvement.

“It will take time to change some of the historical processes and change the ethos and culture that existed under the previous leadership but I recognise that, but there are fundamental areas of school improvement that we must continue to address now, one of which is improving teaching and learning in the classroom.

“There have been many outside pressures and parental concerns that have meant my relentless focus on school improvement has, at times, been diverted; but I hope that after hearing from Tricia, myself and the others here tonight that you will feel reassured that our collective commitment to improving the outcomes of life chances of your children is unwavering.

“There is only one school where I’d like to be working in five years time and that school is Ely College.

Further to the announcement that the school would no long be sponsored by CfBT, Mr Coulson said: “Acting decisively on under performance is a key part of our plan to deliver educational excellence everywhere. Ely College is in special measures and clearly that is not good enough.

“We have agreed with CfBT that the best way to drive up standards is to find a new sponsor. CfBT and myself will ensure a smooth transition that does not impact on pupils’ education.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Pritchard said: “Our goal is not just to get out of special measures and to require improvement – our aim is to be a good school again.

We would hope that in 18 months to two years that Ely College is out of special measures.”

After chairing the meeting, Lucy Frazer said: “It is vital that all our local schools provide good education for our children.

“I know that parents at Ely College are concerned, and understandable so, about the fact that their school is in special measures and I called the meeting because I thought it would be helpful to bring together those involved in the management of the school to explain how they are taking the school forward.

“It was a constructive meeting and I hope that the parents now feel engaged and informed about the plans the leadership have for the school.

“I will continue to do all I can to support the school because I think it is critical that students at Ely College get the education they deserve.”