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Oasis Academy Mayfield needs experts says John Denham
THE Christian organisation running a controversial new Southampton school has been told it may need to bring in troubleshooters after up to 150 pupils went on the rampage.
Southampton Itchen MP John Denham wants the charity that runs Oasis Academy Mayfield to consider calling in education experts to help because it is so inexperienced.
He has also called on school bosses to open up and show how they are dealing with the unrest that led to pupils leaving a trail of destruction.
Eyewitnesses said that Year 10 and 11 pupils at the school caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage to its Woolston campus, smashing windows and wrecking televisions after a protest about how the school was formed got out of hand.
Angry pupils were demonstrating against the unwanted merger of their former secondary schools across two sites, with Years 7, 8 and 9 now being taught at Grove Park and Years 10 and 11 at the Woolston site.
Mr Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said: “It was always going to be a difficult challenge to bring two schools together that have strong identities.
“There are going to be issues that need to be managed “Clearly the Oasis Trust nationally is a very inexperienced organisation.
“This is only the second year it’s responsible for any schools anywhere in the county. They may need to look at how they can get in some more expertise in to strengthen, not the head teacher, who I know well and was a successful head teacher elsewhere in the city, but the governance of the school.”
He added: “It’s obviously important that the school is prepared to be open with parents and guardians about issues that are there or may be there.”
Ward councillor Warwick Payne said: “As councillor for Woolston, everything I’ve heard about this incident had come from parents and the Echo and nothing from the school.
“Oasis need to take the bull by the horns. These kind of incident are not acceptable and we expect them to act now.”
Head teacher Ruth Johnson has sought to downplay the destruction and insisted no more than 40 pupils were involved. She said disruptive pupils had been punished, with some excluded, however has so has been unavailable to answer questions directly.
Oasis was chosen by the council to open two new academies – independent state funded schools – following a city review of secondary school education.
The other is Oasis Academy Lord’s Hill, formed by a merger of Oaklands and Millbrook schools, where no problems have been reported.
Teaching unions representing staff at Oasis Academy Mayfield have threatened to take industrial action if improvements are not made in the next two weeks.