‘War of words’ over the future of Louth secondary schools

Monks' Dyke Tennyson College in Louth.
Monks' Dyke Tennyson College in Louth.
  • King Edward’s regrets the “confusion, misunderstanding and any offence caused” by the comments in the letter.

A war of words broke out between school leaders earlier this week, after the Department for Education (DfE) threw out proposals for King Edward VI Education Trust to sponsor Monks’ Dyke Tennyson College (MDTC).

In a letter to parents of King Edward VI Grammar School pupils last week, head teacher James Lascelles said that official confirmation had been received which rejected the King Edward VI Education Trust’s proposal to sponsor MDTC and to ‘create a local Louth solution for secondary education’.

‘After careful consideration, the DfE rejected the King Edward VI Education Trust as a potential sponsor for the school and we have been working hard with other potential sponsors to confirm a way forward.’

Matt Percival, Interim Headteacher at MDTC.

Mr Lascelles continued: “Obviously as a Trust we are disappointed about this decision, but we have had to agree and concede to the DfE and LA (Local Authority)’s view that the depth and scale of the problems facing MDTC are so enormous that without financial support from the DfE and the LA then King Edward’s sponsoring MDTC would not be financially sustainable. Unfortunately this DfE and LA support was not forthcoming.”

Mr Lascelles has since told the Leader that the letter was published on the school’s website ‘in error’, and should have remained internal and private. It has since been removed from the website.

He added that all references to financial matters relate to the Trust, rather than MDTC, and said that ‘incorrect inferences’ had been drawn from the letter.

However, on Monday, Lincolnshire County Council and MDTC’s interim head teacher Matt Percival responded fiercely against the contents of the letter.

Debbie Barnes, director of children’s services, said: “We have full trust and confidence in the head teacher and Interim Executive Board of Monks’ Dyke Tennyson College in taking the school forward and we are extremely disappointed that the King Edward VI Education Trust consider it appropriate to comment on another school.

“While there are some financial challenges, we are working and supporting the school until a new sponsor is identified by the DfE which includes the local authority providing funding support.

“We can assure parents that the local authority and the school are working hard to provide the quality education for their children and are addressing the issues in the recent Ofsted report.

“I want to make it clear that the decision as to whether to allow a school to join a multi-academy trust rests solely with the DfE through the Regional Schools Commissioner. The local authority has no statutory powers to intervene.

“We will continue to work with the Regional Schools Commissioner to seek an appropriate sponsor for the school.”

Mr Percival added: “I am saddened that the King Edward VI Education Trust, through Mr Lascelles, somehow thought it appropriate to comment publicly on issues relating to our college.

“This will only create anxiety for parents and pupils who attend the college and runs contrary to the collaborative approach the local authority has looked to develop with the Trust.

“After careful consideration, the DfE rejected the King Edward VI Education Trust as a potential sponsor for the school and we have been working hard with other potential sponsors to confirm a way forward.

“These discussions are at an advanced stage and it would be unfair to comment on them at this stage.

“All at Monks’ Dyke continue to focus on the needs of our pupils and we will continue to build on our achievements so far in this academic year.”

Following this furious response, Mr Lascelles told the Leader: “King Edward’s wrote to all parents internally last week, following various requests for information, continued uncertainty, and ongoing speculation amongst parents about a merger between the two schools.

“King Edward’s would like to clarify the contents of that letter and the incorrect inferences that have been drawn from it.

“It is King Edward’s that lacks the additional financial resources, reserves and capacity necessary to pay to release our staff and pay for the additional services and support to help Monks’ Dyke.

“At the time of a massive funding crisis for schools across the country, trustees realised that without additional funding King Edward’s could not support Monks’ Dyke. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, King Edward’s has been unsuccessful in securing any further monies to support our bid.

“King Edward’s regrets the confusion, misunderstanding and any offence caused.

“We are happy to confirm that any references to financial matters are to those of the Trust supporting Monks’ Dyke.”