A PUBLIC meeting has been called to discuss what Micklegate councillors call the 'continued concerns' over the operation of the South Bank Multi Academy Trust (MAT) and the governance of Scarcroft School, which is part of the Trust.

It follows the mass resignation of Scarcroft's board of governors earlier this year in a row over changes to terms and conditions for teaching assistants, and the subsequent retirement of the school's head teacher.

However, the chair of trustees at South Bank MAT responded to the move by saying "continued attacks" on the trust's staff needed to stop. He said Micklegate councillors should be working to ensure school staff are set up for success, rather than "providing a forum" for "often anonymous, and sometimes depressingly personal criticism against them".

The ward committee meeting at Southlands Methodist Church at 7pm next Thursday (November 30) will be attended by York's Labour education chief, Cllr Bob Webb, and is open to anyone with an interest in Scarcroft school or the academy trust.

It has been called by Micklegate's three Labour ward councillors, Pete Kilbane, Jane Burton and Jonny Crawshaw. Cllr Crawshaw was himself one of the former Scarcroft School governors who resigned.

Cllr Kilbane said that, following the mass resignation of Scarcroft’s governors, the school’s head Paul Edwards had announced his retirement - although The Press understands that Mr Edwards had actually made the decision to retire some time earlier, following a period of ill health.

On the same day that staff were informed of Mr Edwards' retirement, Cllr Kilbane added, they were also informed that a new ‘Head of School’ had been appointed and that a new Executive Head - the current head of Woodthorpe Primary - would oversee both schools.

"Parents were informed a couple of days later and at this point, staff and parents were informed of the formation of a new joint governing body made up of the remaining members of Woodthorpe’s LGB (governing board) and a new Scarcroft parent governor (yet to be appointed)," Cllr Kilbane said.

He said a number of parents of children in the lower years at Scarcroft had since written to the MAT expressing concern that Scarcroft staff were not given the opportunity to apply for posts.

They were also worried that a school currently rated 'Requires Improvement' by Ofsted (Woodthorpe) should be effectively ‘taking over’ a school like Scarcroft, which is rated 'Good', he said.

Cllr Kilbane said: "More than 100 Scarcroft parents have now signed the letter expressing concern. This is in addition to the 200-plus parents who signed an open letter to the Trust last year from across all the schools."

Cllr Kilbane said representatives from the South Bank academy trust had been invited to attend the meeting.

Ian Wiggins, Chair of Trustees at South Bank MAT, said: "These continued attacks on the professional and dedicated staff at South Bank MAT need to stop. 

"As community leaders I would hope that the Micklegate councillors would recognise how difficult a time it is to be in education and work to ensure colleagues in our schools are set up for success in their roles, rather than providing a forum that furthers the often anonymous, and sometimes depressingly personal criticism against them.  

"After we received the invite to attend the public meeting I wrote to the council’s chief operating officer noting the concern it had caused some of our staff and to ask if public funds were being used in support of the event. I also asked if it was appropriate for council officers to be supporting a politicised campaign by some of our local councillors.  

"York is a wonderful city and I am proud of the work South Bank MAT does across our communities. In the past year alone, through the brilliant commitment by staff in our schools, and support from our central team we have made a real and positive difference for children and young people in our city.

"Our work has seen greatly improved Ofsted judgements for both York High School and Carr Junior School; in our engagement sessions with parents our support for children with special educational needs has been repeatedly recognised; and each inspection report in the last academic year praised our governance and accountability mechanisms.

"Parents and carers’ feedback and views are important - they help us to know what works and what we can improve. However, feedback needs to be done in a way that allows our schools to engage in the detailed, personal and unique circumstances of each child, through our staff and heads on a one to one basis, not in a public meeting."