A TROUBLED school has seen 76 teachers leave and paid out a more than £370,000 to former staff, the Echo can reveal.

Figures obtained under freedom of information powers show a whopping £372,588 was handed to former staff at the Basildon Academies since it was created in September 2009.

A total of 46 teachers have left the Upper Academy while 30 teachers have left the Lower Academy between the start of 2012 and October this year, thought to be around 60 per cent of the total staff at the school.

The academies formed following the merger Chalvedon and Barstable secondary schools.

A former member of staff, who asked not to be named, said: “It is absolutely disgusting that £370,000 of public money has been misspent on paying for staff to go quietly.

“Rather than address problems the current strategy appears to be to pay staff to leave with confidentiality clauses banning them from speaking out.

“It is the children once again who suffer. Children need stability and teachers in the classroom who know how to improve their knowledge and their courses.

“Again it appears that protecting the academy business is more important than education. It is disappointing that money is not used for student resources but instead the worst of business practice.

“The DfE must scrutinise and hold the academies to account for every penny not spent on improving children's education."

The Upper Academy has been in special measures since May 2012, while the Lower Academy came out of special measures last month.

Teachers receive their wages from the Stanton Lane Educational Trust, which is chaired by sponsor Martin Finegold, who has come in for considerable criticism for his “lack of educational input” into the school.

High profile departures include former principal Rory Fox, who left over a row regarding teaching hours, former Head of Sixth Form Ginny Parry, who left because of a dispute between sponsor Martin Finegold and Chairman of Governors Les Livermore, and Associate Principal Shereen Breslin, who left over a dispute regarding child welfare issues.

Noel Kelleway, Chairman of the Basildon Business Education Consortium, called for an investigation into the amount of money being paid out from the public purse.
He said: “It is a concern to learn of the apparent costs incurred in the departure of so many staff from the Basildon Academies.

“It is resources that could be spent on improving the education of the young people of Basildon and some further investigation may be required.”

Brian Collins, director of finance and operations at the academies said the amount of teachers leaving was not unusual when viewed in a school environment and was likely to be better than many schools of a similar size and location.

He added that, in the autumn term of 2011, the school had to make a number of staff redundant and this accounts for a large proportion of the compensation and redundancy costs.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Managing staff redundancy, and the payments associated with those redundancies, is a matter for the trust.”

The Echo approached the Basildon Academies for further comment but received no reply.




CONCERNS have been raised over the state of education at the school given the amount of teachers leaving.

A former staff member, who asked not to be named, said the amount of staff leaving was a “crisis loss”.

She also said it reflected a lack of faith in the school’s leadership.

The National Union of Teachers said the high turnover put the school’s consistency at risk.
The former employee said: “It is indicative of problems at a school when teacher turnover is so high. The national average is about ten per cent over a year, so this high figure represents crisis loss at the academies.

“The leadership and management of the school must be questioned if staff are choosing leaving posts in droves in an uncertain job climate.”

The former employee also said the high turnover would be noticed in Ofsted inspections.
She added: “Any outcome, whether positive or negative, is only temporary as the new staff haven’t bed in yet and the new initiative hasn’t set in. I want to see Ofsted come back afterwards to see whether they have been successful.

“It couldn’t be more different to where I teach now.”

Jerry Glazier, spokesman for the Essex branch of the NUT, said: “The figures do seem high. Most schools have the highest staff turnover at the end of the school year, with smaller levels at Christmas and Easter.

“A school needs to have some turnover or it will stagnate but a turnover of ten per cent per year is healthy. Less than that is potentially unhealthy. As you start to drift towards 20 per cent you risk a loss of continuity as school systems are about consistency. Staff need to be familiar with them otherwise consistency will diminish.”



THE Basildon Upper Academy was one of only two schools in the UK to receive a warning notice about its poor performance last year.

Details published this month by the Department for Education, show the Upper Academy, in Wickford Avenue, Pitsea was sent a pre-warning letter in January 2012, along with 33 other academies, but only two of these cases were followed up with official warning notices last June.

The letter, for severely underperforming schools, was sent by schools minister Lord Hill regarding the “unnacceptably low standards of pupils” at the school.

However, since receiving its letter the Upper Academy has made a number of changes, such as appointing troubleshooting interim principal Bev Bell and naming heads of school at both the Upper and Lower academies.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We issued a pre-warning notice to the Basildon Academies in January 2012 and a Warning Notice in June 2012. There has been some improvement in performance following our intervention, with the proportion of pupils achieving 5 A* to C GCSEs increasing from 33 per cent in 2011 to 45 per cent in 2012.

“The lower academy came out of special measures in October and Ofsted is expected to inspect the upper academy shortly. We will continue to closely monitor the performance of the academies.”



THE MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock said that staff sometimes needed to be replaced to improve standards.

Stephen Metcalfe has spoken with Prime Minister David Cameron and Education secretary Michael Gove about the academies’ progress in the last 12 months and believes it is on the right track.

He said: “I am aware there has been a significant staff turnover but the school has faced a lot of challenges over the last two years.

“On the face of it it does seem high, but I’m aware that, of the changes made by the former and current principals, it would have been done to improve the quality of teaching and sometimes that requires new staff to be brought in.”

In regards to the amount of money spent on redundancy packages, Mr Metcalfe added: “I would want to be confident the amount was only the amount that was legally required.”



DESPITE a rocky 18 months the Basildon Academies seem to be back on track following a recent Ofsted inspection.

The Lower Academy was removed from special measures, although it remains to be seen whether the troubled Upper school can do the same.

A final monitoring visit is expected in March 2014, by which time the school will have been in special measures for two years.

All schools placed in special measures are expected to have come out after 24 months. If they fail to do so, the academy sponsor can be removed.

The academies have been closely monitored by the Department for Education since falling into special measures, with education secretary Michael Gove among its critics.