Row over Grindon Hall school takeover

The founders of a school in Sunderland have raised concerns over what they claim is a threatened takeover by a sponsor.

The Department for Education has told Grindon Hall Christian School that it must accept a sponsor to step in and run it. The school was put into special measures after an Ofsted inspection.

Grindon Hall Christian School was placed in special measures in January following an Ofsted report that found issues with leadership, the quality of learning and safeguarding. It is also subject to two financial notices to improve.

The Regional Schools Commissioner is seriously concerned about the school and has been exploring options for future sponsorship, including Bright Tribe, to provide the strong skills in financial management and governance required to bring about swift improvements.

Every pupil deserves an excellent education and no parent should have to be content with their child spending a single day in a failing school. It is one of the great strengths of the free school programme that we can identify and deal with failure quickly, in a way that is not possible in all schools.

– Department for Education

The founders of the school say it is improving and they are concerned because the sponsor has 'no proven track record or link to the region'.

They claim the DfE has selected new multi-academy trust Bright Tribe, run by North West venture capitalist Michael Dwan, as sponsor and told the school it must show, within two weeks, that it is progressing with the organisation.

In a letter to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Nash, they express their "deep concern for the future of education and wellbeing of the students" under Cheshire-based Bright Tribe, given its educational record to date and the lack of information about how it plans to take the school forward.

Elizabeth Gray said: "We have no objection to a sponsor but it is the 'who' and 'how' over which we have grave doubts."

Last year Grindon Hall was top of all 20 schools in Sunderland for the average GCSE points score per pupil and joint fourth for GCSE results with 68% of students gaining at least five A*-C grades including English and maths (the national average was 59%).