There was only 24 hours’ notice for the meetings after the publication of the critical Ofsted report on the school, and so numbers were said to be on the low side.
Parents of Year 6 pupils starting in September and those already attending were unaware of the extent of some of the problems highlighted in the report. But others had faith in head teacher Vicky Godley to transform the school.
‘A lot of the things mentioned in the report and the meeting I didn’t know about, but like with La Mare [her previous school] I think that Mrs Godley will make a huge difference to turn it around,’ said Joanne Duquemin, who attended with her daughter, Kira Brown, 14, a Year 9 pupil.
‘It seems that a lot of the problems are things such as bullying, rather than smoking and issues that are typically common in secondary schools, and so it does make me more nervous knowing that Kira is in that environment.’
Kira added that at least 15 members of staff are understood to be leaving at the end of the year. She said two form groups in her year had been collapsed due to a lack of teachers, and during this school year alone she had three different French teachers.
Vanessa Gallienne has a son in Year 8 and was concerned of the impact of the issues on his education. She said his performance had deteriorated.
‘He’ll be starting his GCSEs next year, the school doesn’t have time to turn it around by September, and it’s not like there’s anywhere else for him to go.’
Parents also expressed concerns about behaviour across the school – some pupils were reluctant to use the toilets because of vaping, smoking and general misbehaviour, they said.
The two meetings were led by Mrs Godley, executive principal Liz Coffey and director of education Nick Hynes.
‘I think the meeting was quite mixed. Parents came wanting reassurance, but in terms of being as transparent as possible with some of the actions that we are putting into place, I hope they now have an understanding of what that is,’ said Mrs Godley.
‘It’s our job now to build that trust, but that doesn’t just happen overnight.’
She added that she would be taking on parent feedback of wanting to be included and communicated with.
Mr Hynes said they sought to reassure parents of September’s new pupils about how improvements would be made.
‘Many left feeling more positive,’ he said. ‘The second meeting was a bit different as the parents felt that we could have done a lot more sooner. I absolutely accept and understand the upset and anger.’
He welcomed the attendance at both meetings.