On Wednesday 13th November, parent campaigners, accompanied by Lloyd Russell-Moyle, took the campaign to stop Moulsecoomb Primary School from being taken over by an academy to the doorstep of one of the trustees of New Horizons Academy Trust.
The Lancing based trust, which lost one of its two schools a year ago, has been subject to intense scrutiny from parents and staff since it was announced as the potential sponsor of Moulsecoomb Primary School last month.
Parent campaigner, Ulrike Hofmann said:
“Ultimately, we are opposed to the privatisation of our school and will fight against any trust chosen to take over our school, but New Horizons Academy Trust is not fit for purpose.
“The only school they currently run has never been inspected by Ofsted. The only other school they have previously run was transferred to another trust after they made a mess of it.
“The chair of trustees is Headteacher of an Ofsted rated Inadequate school and that’s before we even begin to delve into the nepotism”.
According to the New Horizons Academy Trust website, the trust employs CEO Lee Murley’s wife as a supply teacher and both Deputy Heads are children of trustees. The Chair of Trustees, Simon Wood, is currently Headteacher of Copperfield Academy in Gravesend, Kent. Under his watch, Copperfield School received an “inadequate” Ofsted rating in January 2019. Since then the school has received two “monitoring” visits from Ofsted.
Parent campaigner, Natasha Ide, who also attended the protest said:
“My mum went to Moulsecoomb Primary School, I went to the school and now my children go to the school. Moulsecoomb Primary School is amazing, and I have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from our local MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle who was on the protest with us and has been with us from the start.
“We had an amazing turnout for the protest and our message was loud and clear. Along with our kids, we handed out flyers to cars and passers-by. We were really encouraged by the beeping of horns and conversations that we had.
“We don’t want to be standing outside in the cold protesting, but we did it because we care so passionately about this campaign. If we have to, we will do it again.
“All we ask is for New Horizons Academy Trust to listen to the wishes of parents and walk away. They chose to be the sponsor for our school, and they can choose not to be.”
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who is campaigning to be re-elected as MP for Brighton Kempton, provided lifts to some of the protesters. Of the protest he said:
“No academy trust, great or small, is welcome in Moulsecoomb. Parents and staff have categorically rejected this forced academisation and I wholeheartedly support their campaign to keep our local school democratically accountable. It was an honour to be part of this protest and meet again such incredibly dedicated and passionate parents.
“The Labour Party will bring an end to the back-door privatisation of education in this country if elected and stop the gravy train of fat cat CEOs. If New Horizons Academy Trust have any decency and respect for democracy, they will listen to the wishes of parents, staff and wider community, do the right thing and walk away.”