• Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Priti Patel raises ‘bullying’ concerns about Essex school

Patel and the education minister, Baroness Barran, visited Maltings Academy to meet with the leadership team

Priti Patel MP (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

By: Piers Meyler

A raft of “serious concerns” – including instances around bullying and self-harm – have been levelled at an Essex secondary school.

The issues were raised by Witham MP Priti Patel in the House of Commons who said there were ongoing concerns raised by parents of children attending Maltings Academy around failing educational standards, bullying and serious safeguarding concerns which has led to many children missing out on school time.

In a question to the government, she said: “The secretary of state is well aware of the issues we have with Academies Enterprise Trust and Maltings Academy in Witham town.

“She will know of the stories of children missing out on school time because of exclusion and bullying. Some are even self-harming. What assurance can she give to pupils and their families, who have very little choice as to which schools they go to locally, that their concerns will be heard and that they will have greater educational choice over which school their children go to?”

Patel and the education minister, Baroness Barran, visited Maltings Academy to meet with the leadership team, parent representatives, pupils and the chief executive of Academies Enterprise Trust, last month.

This visit, which was formally requested by Patel and the Department of Education, follows a number of changes at the school over the last 18 months and a series of issues, concerns and complaints that the MP says has impacted the educational attainment and safeguarding of pupils who attend the school, alongside the recent OFSTED report which stated that the school required improvement.

She added away from parliament: “Pupils and parents in Witham deserve good and outstanding schools locally. I have been working with the Department for Education and Ofsted to make sure standards at our schools are at the high level that is rightly expected, and that the serious concerns raised with AET at Maltings Academy are addressed by the school, Academies Enterprise Trust and the Department for Education.”

In answer to her question minister of state for schools Damian Hinds said: “I know we have corresponded on this recently, and I know my Right Honourable Friend is taking a close personal interest and has been involved directly and personally in multiple cases. In my most recent letter—I am not sure if it will have arrived yet—I have said that we will as a department work with her.”

A spokesperson for Maltings Academy said: “Under new leadership, Maltings Academy is addressing areas of improvement and recent Ofsted inspections have confirmed that we are taking the right approach and that it is working. Even since November, we have seen a 35 per cent reduction in incidents of bullying, and behaviour is now improving. There is more work to be done, but everyone at Maltings and AET is committed to doing everything we can to ensure the school becomes, once again, a school that delivers the excellent education that our community deserves.

“We recently welcomed both Priti Patel and education minister Barran into school, and were pleased to be able to update them on the improvements we have made, and to share with them the positive feedback we are getting from our families.”

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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