The entire governing body at a Bradford secondary school with more than 1,000 pupils has been sacked over concerns about its “actions and effectiveness” following a critical Ofsted report.
Bradford Council has replaced the governors, at Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College, who include two serving Bradford councillors, with an interim executive board after winning approval from Education Secretary Michael Gove.
The interim board consists of council officers, a solicitor and the chairman of governors at another Bradford school.
The Council has insisted the rare move was necessary to help turn the school’s fortunes around, but one of the sacked governors has claimed it was politically-motivated.
Parents are being informed of the move in a letter from Laisterdyke principal Jen McIntosh.
Inspectors at watchdog Ofsted visited the school last September and its subsequent report said it “required improvement”.
Although it praised the governing body in some areas, it pointed out the governors “do not have the skills to consistently hold leaders to account”.
A follow-up inspection last November resulted in Ofsted stating that the governors needed to improve their effectiveness and their efforts to improve were not moving fast enough.
A report of a further inspection last month is expected to be published after Easter.
Michael Jameson, the Council’s strategic director of children’s services, said: “The Council’s primary concern is the education of the children who attend Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College and we will continue to advise and support the school's leadership team to ensure the school operates effectively.
“The Council had concerns about the actions and effectiveness of the governing body of Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College, which like all governing bodies is autonomous.
“The Council therefore approached the Department for Education in order to establish an Interim Executive Board of governors at the school.”
Among the governors are Bradford Moor Councillors Ghazanfer Khaliq (Lab) and Faisal Khan (Bradford Independent Group).
Councillor Khan criticised the move and claimed there had been little communication between the Council and the governors before they were replaced.
He said: “If there were any concerns raised they were not raised with the governing body. We need to think about what our next step is. This doesn’t bode well for any governing body – this defies any democratic process.”
But Councillor Ralph Berry, executive for children’s services on Bradford Council, insisted action was necessary to bring about the required improvements at the school.
“The Council decided that it would do what it takes to raise standards, and it seems the governing body at this school was stuck, “ Coun Berry said.
“We are looking for fast improvements to the school and we want governance that will be supportive of improvements.
“We have been monitoring the school since the Ofsted inspection and we are focused on improving the outcomes for children in that school. We had two IEBs placed in schools last year and both of those helped the school become more effective.
“We have to make the appropriate interventions to make sure these schools improve. We have chosen an extremely experienced group of people with a solid track record of doing this.”
Councillor Roger L’Amie, education spokesman for the Conservative group, said: “This is not something you do lightly. I think this was something that was needed, and the executive board need to sort things out quickly for the benefit of the young people at the school.”
Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, said: “The most important thing, no matter what action is taken, is what is best for the young people. I welcome the intervention if it means the improvement of the school for the student’s benefit.”
Coun Berry insisted the reason for replacing the governors was purely due to their inability to improve the school’s performance quickly enough and he denied a national Sunday newspaper’s allegations yesterday that it had been because of clashes between Muslim governors and head teacher Mrs McIntosh.
Last year the Council took similar action by replacing the governors with interim executive boards at Bradford Moor Community Primary and Miriam Lord Primary in Manningham amid concerns about both schools’ performance.