Shock at proposal to merge Sandown Bay Academy with Ryde Academy (update 2)

AET replaced the Board of Governors at Sandown Bay Academy with a Management Board last week. This afternoon they announce shocking news, it’s unclear what the impact on the pupils will be.

sandown bay academy

The former Chair of Governors and member of the new management board at Sandown Bay Academy, Chris Quirk, has resigned from his position after being told by Academies Enterprise Trust that they plan to merge the school.

It has been confirmed that a proposal for Sandown Bay Academy to merge with Ryde Academy in September 2018 will go out to consultation later this month. AET say that it’s too early to know what will happen about the merging of the two sites, whether there will be one or two, but it’s believed there have been negotiations on the Haylands site in Ryde.

The final decision will rest with Ministers and will not be taken until after the general election.

Quirk: AET “Let down the children of the Bay”
Speaking this afternoon, Chris told OnTheWight,

“I can longer give it credibility by being attached to it.

“They have let down the children of the Bay.”

He told us, AET have requested that further staff redundancies are investigated.

Overseen by Joy Ballard
AET say that if approved, the Principal of Ryde Academy, Joy Ballard, will oversee the transition between the two schools.

She will work closely on the transition planning with Sandown Bay Principal Claire Charlemagne, who recently announced her resignation and will step down at the end of August.

Overcapacity problem
AET explained that its plan to merge the schools was owed to the falling numbers of students, which forms part of a pattern of over-capacity in school provision across the Isle of Wight.

A spokesperson for AET said,

“This fall in enrolment has a direct impact on schools’ finances, when they are already struggling in a difficult funding climate nationally for education. It is further exacerbated in the case of Sandown Bay, which has been running a significant deficit. In this situation, it has been becoming increasingly difficult for the school to fund the teachers and the educational resources needed in order to provide the education we would all want for the students.

“AET has taken a long, hard look at this situation and at the future projected numbers for both Sandown Bay and Ryde Academies. We believe that merger offers the best option all round, and that out of these two schools we can create one really great one. We want to create an academy that is recognised as the best educational provision on the Island.

“We appreciate that the planned merger will involve a large amount of upheaval for all concerned. We will do all we can to mitigate this, and the consultation process and the transition year will help us to ensure the process is as smooth as possible.”

Lowthion: “No surprise to those who have watched AET’s behaviour “
Vix Lowthion, PPC for the IW Green Party

“No surprise to those of us who have watched AET’s behaviour in closing Weston Primary in Totland – and now ‘merging’ Sandown. Awful news for the community, staff and pupils.

“Academisation of our education system never works for the people – it puts all the power in the hands of private companies. I will do all I can to help staff and families affected.”

Critchley: “An outrageous development”
Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate, Julian Critchley, criticised the proposals by AET.

He said,

“This is an outrageous development. Quite clearly Sandown Bay’s troubles can be laid at the door of AET: particularly their desire to strip money from the school to redeploy elsewhere in
their company. Now all they seem to propose is to spread those cuts across two schools.

“My children attend Ryde Academy, and I am furious at the suggestion that AET should treat them as some sort of pawns to be moved across their corporate chess board.

“The answer to Sandown Bay Academy’s issues is not to impose their problems on Ryde Academy, but to fix the problems in Sandown. Clearly, that is something which AET are incapable of doing, as their main interest in Sandown appears to be seeing how much money they can extract from it.

“This is where the Tory school privatisation programme has left us, with our schools taken out of local control, and decisions which impact on our children taken in some anonymous corporate office miles

“Labour recently announced that it would give Local Authorities the right to take back control of their schools from these absentee corporations, and I cannot think of a better place to start than here on the Isle of Wight. We need to take back control of our schools.”

Former governors speak out
On Friday last week, former Governors broke their silence about the planned cuts being imposed on the school by the Trust.

Earlier this week a meeting was held during which AET were accused of “stripping school of funding to patch failings in other schools”.

Troubled past
Sandown Bay has had a troubled time since the school reorganisation imposed by the former Conservative council at the beginning of the decade.

It dropped into Special Measures and has had a number of leaders come and go.

However, it has made great strides in the few years under the leadership of Clare Charlemagne and formerly, Eric Jackson.

Article edits
15:30 – Comment added from Vix Lowthion
16:58 – Comment added from Julian Critchley

Image: © Google Streetview

Thursday, 4th May, 2017 3:17pm



Filed under: Education, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Sandown, Top story

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7 Comments on "Shock at proposal to merge Sandown Bay Academy with Ryde Academy (update 2)"

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Was something like this inevitable? With the changing demographics on the island, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it reopen as a care home.

Still, hideously managed change and a lot of students and teachers losing out in the process.

I just wonder if we the tax payers still own the school site or do AET own the free hold to Sandown? this will be a blow to all the children that go there. If AET own, the free hold they are in posstion of a prime location.If they do close Sandown there will be no high school south east of Ryde.So children will have to be… Read more »

Tosh – all Academies are given a lease o 125 years from conversion – or hand over. I would assume, but am not sure, that if the MAT no longer carries on with their business (i.e. education), then i would hope it is handed back to the LA (or possibly the DfE)?

Billy Builder
This is the natural inevitable result of Tory policy both at the National an County level, in that the Tory Council under David Pugh and the party under Alan Wells mis-leadership deliberately over sized Cowes Enterprise College to create what was intended by the Tories to be a beacon of Tory success. This coupled with the Tory dogma that insisted on creating the Studio School and the… Read more »
Robert Jones
I don’t have children, so my interest in this is not direct, but I remember going to speak at Sandown High School as it then was, when I stood in for our then Labour Parliamentary candidate, the late Kenn Pearson. Realizing I was in for a rough time if the pupils asked about economic issues – my job was running elections, I left policy to the candidate… Read more »

Well that was fairly obvious, but VERY wrong! I wonder how many resignations, sackings and relocations will be endured by professional Teachers, at the behest of a greedy and devious company.. In AET speak, Time to downsize… not enough money left over after teaching these damned kids!


What have they done? In little more than a decade local and national Conservative policies have trashed a once excellent school to the point of closure. It would be utter insanity for Newport to have two Secondary schools while Sandown and Shanklin have none, this is madness.