A HIGH profile Basildon politician has called for the millionaire sponsor and chairman of governors at the Basildon Academies to step down.
Mayor Mo Larkin, represents Pitsea South East and has worked as a school governor for 27 years, said she was “disgusted” that Les Livermore was getting paid £63,000 to be employed as the chief executive officer of the Academy Trust and also be the chairman of the school governors. She also called for the school to be put back under local authority control.
Mr Livermore, who was a governor before Chalvedon and Barstable Schools merged, has his own office on site in the old caretaker’s office as well as his own secretary at the Upper Academy in Wickford Avenue, Pitsea.
Mrs Larkin’s comments come after the Echo published a list of former headteacher Dr Rory Fox’s grievances in a damning letter to the governors. Dr Fox raised concerns about the educational expertise of the sponsor Martin Finegold, who is an American banker, and how governance were undermining his attempts to take the school.
Mrs Larkin said: “The current set up of the sponsor and the chairman of governors is clearly not working and something has to be done.
“I don’t think they should run the school anymore and the local authority should take it over. it is disgusting that one person is being paid more than £60,000 which is coming directly out of the school’s budget to pay for the chairman of the governors and his secretary.
“This is literally taking money away from children in the classroom and that is not right. I have worked for schools in our borough for 27 years and I have never heard of one person being paid to do two roles.
“I believe there is total conflict in the position Mr Livermore is representing and this school needs good leadership. If it was able to go back under local authority control then I would put myself forward as a candidate for chairman of the governors. “This school is in my community and I care about it a lot.”
Education chiefs at Essex County Council are also looking into what is going on at the Academies- which currently teaches across two sites in Timberlog Close and Wickford Avenue.
Mr Livermore said the governing body was turning the school around. The Academies did secure its best GCSEs this summer with a 45 per cent pass rate.
He added: "In a monitoring visit undertaken by Ofsted in September, both Academies have been judged as making progress towards removal from Special Measures and it was confirmed that governors communicated a clear vision for the Academies improvement and had an unequivocal expectation of staff and pupils.
"Governors were judged as sufficiently well informed to be able to support the Academy in its drive for rapid improvement.
"I hope that Mrs Larkin will agree that the Governing Body should be supported by the local community in its drive to improve the life chances for our children, which in turn will enable the local community to be developed in a positive and sustainable way."
Stephen Castle, the councillor with responsibility for education, said the school was at the top of his agenda and he was having regular meetings with Secretary of State for education Michael Gove.
He added: “This is an issue for the academies which is a school which is not under local authority control. However we wish Rory the best in his future and we will work with Mrs Bell as the new school leader.
"We are really keen for her to build on the improvements that have happened this year and this was shown in the improved GCSE results which rose by 12 per cent.
“I have met with Michael Gove on a number of occasions about the school and we will do everything we can to work with them.”