THE DECISION to pair up a failing school with an academy trust has been made behind closed doors.

Waltham Holy Cross school will be run by the Net Academies Trust (NETAT), an email from regional schools commissioner Sue Baldwin to a parent revealed last week.

When the Waltham Abbey based school was judged 'inadequate' by Ofsted inspectors in March, its future conversion into an academy was sealed under Department of Education rules.

While many parents found the judgement hard to swallow and felt it did not reflect the good work of recently appointed headteacher Erica Barnet, the swift appointment of the academy trust - behind closed doors - left them reeling.

Ms Baldwin's email read: "As regional schools commissioner it is my role to ensure that a school judged inadequate is quickly found an academy trust with the capacity to improve the school.

"In considering an appropriate sponsor I have taken into account a number of factors. These include the trust’s school improvement plans and its capacity to deliver the support required at the school, the strength of its leadership and its financial stability.

"Having taken advice from the Head Teacher Board and being satisfied that the trust is sufficiently strong in these areas, I have approved NETAT as the sponsor for the school."

This led one parent to ask in response when they were going to be officially filled in.

They wrote: "Can you explain to me your policy for communication on this? As personally for me it is a very sensitive matter. It concerns the future and welfare of my children.

“When was this decision made? Why have they not come to us or spoken with us about our concerns?”

In addition to being kept in the dark, concerns also surround the suitability of NETAT.

While three of the seven schools under the Trust's charge are rated 'good', one requires improvement and three are judged 'inadequate'.

When asked about these concerns Jo Coton, CEO of NETAT, said: "We are proud that our successful track record is evidence that The Trust is achieving the best possible outcomes for our young people. Our vision is to lead excellence in education and we will continue doing what we know works to ensure bright futures for every child in our academies.

"The Trust’s achievements have recently been recognised by Ofsted following inspections that saw three of our Harlow-based academies, all of which were previously rated Inadequate or Requires Improvement, now rated Good or Outstanding across all criteria. Inspectors highlighted management, personal development, behaviour and welfare as particular strengths.

"We are delighted that WHCS will benefit from our extensive expertise by joining the NETAT family, and firmly believe that it will prosper with the Trust’s wide-ranging support."