Sunday 10th December 2023,
North Yorks Enquirer

Open Letter: Whitby Secondary Partnership

Open Letter: Whitby Secondary Partnership

Ms Christina ZANELLI – Co-Chair Board of Governors: Whitby Secondary Partnership and Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Yorkshire Endeavour Academy Trust (YEAT)

Ms Su CROSSLAND – Co-Chair Board of Governors: Whitby Secondary Partnership

Mr Jamie HENSHAW – Executive Head Teacher Whitby Secondary Partnership and Trustee: Yorkshire Endeavour Academy Trust (YEAT)

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

Christina/Su/Jamie,

My name is NIGEL WARD. I am a pro bono publico investigative journalist.

I have been unable to locate reliable individual email addresses for you; I must, perforce, address you in the public domain – which is no bad thing.

Nevertheless, I do hope that my attempts to email you individually and separately have been successful. Please confirm receipt. Thank you.

During this period of proposed amalgamation of the Whitby secondary schools, and notwithstanding any Declarations of Interest, I am disturbed by information reaching me from County Hall to the effect that the proposed amalgamation is being characterised, by some, as ‘akin to a hostile take-over bid’ amounting to ‘the attempted privatisation, by steath’ of Whitby’s secondary education provision. This is an appalling view – which I sincerely hope is untrue.

However, my interest has been aroused (and, once aroused, it is a persistent little ferret), having been made privy to a letter addressed ‘Dear parents and carers’, dated 22nd May 2022, signed off by  the Co-Chairs of the WSP Board of Governors) – from which I reproduce the following excerpt:

“As you are most like already aware, we appointed Mr Jamie Henshaw as our Executive Head before Easter and are delighted to say that he will be starting with us immediately after half term. Mr Henshaw is leaving his post as Executive Principal at Newcastle Academy, Staffordshire, where he has led on school improvement for both pupils and staff, ensuring the school achieved a Good rating at the most recent Ofsted inspection.”

[my highlighting, in bold type]

As of 22nd May 2022 (the date of the above-mentioned letter), the “most recent OfSTED inspection” resulted in this (linked) OfSTED Report for Newcastle Academy, which is headed thus:

Naturally, I regard ‘Requires improvement’ as less laudable than ‘Good’. I am satisfied that parents and carers would take the same view.

To suggest that a school rated ‘Good’ only in some specific areas of inspection could amount to an OfSTED ‘Overall Effectiveness’ rating of ‘Good’, as the letter implies, would be comparable to suggesting that a given motor vehicle qualifies to pass an MOT Test on the basis that some of its tyres retained the requisite degree of ‘tread’ to achieve a ‘Pass’. This would be fundamentally misleading.

In my view, there is a compelling appearance that Mr HENSHAW’s credentials have been ‘mis-sold’ to parents and carers by the Co-Chairs.

It suggests to me that either:

a) The Joint Board of Governors has been extraordinarily remiss in the matter of exercising due diligence over the veracity of statements/assertions made to “parents and carers”;

or

b) The Joint Board of Governors has misunderstood (or may have been misled by) the successful applicant (the present Executive Head Teacher).

or

c) Both of the above.

I am sure you would agree (and I hope you do) that clarification of this source of confusion would comply with the crucial and paramount need for openness and transparency at this time.

Clearly, it would serve the public interest.

Equally clearly, this is no time for the integrity of leading ‘players’ to be perceived as falling short of public expectations.

Certainly, no Whitby parent (or parent-to-be) would wish to support an amalgamation of Whitby secondary schools driven by motives perceived as being more to the advantage of its instigators (some might say ‘perpetrators’) than to that of present and future generations of pupils, especially under the auspices of a less than duly diligent Board or a less than forthright Executive Head Teacher.

So I would be grateful if you would each provide me, please, with a brief statement of explanation for this discrepancy – for publication – lest any reticence on your part to respond with complete candour be interpreted as a tacit admission of having been exposed in an act of base disingenuousness. I thank you.

I reserve the right to contact you again, in the public interest, to seek clarification of any further potential discrepancies which may come to my attention. I trust we will be able to conduct an open, mutually respectful and productive dialogue.

Meanwhile (and quite separately), I would be immensely grateful if you would confirm the accuracy of the appended images (I note that the Executive Head Teacher’s Trusteeship at YEAT is not listed under ‘Declaration of Interests’). Thank you once more.

Yours, with very kind regards,

Nigel


https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/northyorkshire/17425442.secondary-schools-whitby-federate-secure-future/

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