A primary school has been transferred to an academy trust despite calls from an MP for an urgent review.

Waltham Holy Cross Primary School in Waltham Abbey, as of November 1, is being run by NET Academies Trust

The transfer has been completed despite calls from Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing to put the case on hold until it has been reviewed by the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

A campaign to prevent NET Academy Trust overtaking the school has been ongoing since March 2018.

In June this year, dozens of parents and supporters staged a four-day protest which resulted in the scheduled academisation being postponed.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Parents and campaigners have fought long and hard to prevent NET Academies Trust taking over the school

Eleanor Laing has referred the issue to the Ombudsman and asked for the process to be halted, pending the Ombudsman’s reply.

Lord Agnew, parliamentary under-secretary of state for the school system, in a letter to Dame Eleanor, said it has been "to the detriment of the school and its pupils" that almost two years since Ofsted judged the school to be 'inadequate', and despite it being a legal requirement that the school converts to academy status and receives the support of a sponsor, that the transfer has still not happened.

Lord Agnew added that "significant and exceptional action" has been taken to investigate the allegations about the teaching and assessment practices adopted by NET Academies Trust and the integrity of its senior leadership".

He said: "I do take allegations such as these extremely seriously and it was right that we paused the conversion to undertake a thorough investigation, despite this causing further delays.

"However, with that investigation complete and having considered its findings, I remain of the view that NETAT is the right sponsor for this school.

"This is not simply based on the finding of the investigation but is also based on the trust’s proven ability to turnaround schools in Essex and its sound financial position and good governance.

"Taking this all into account and that the school is still not receiving the full benefits of being a sponsored academy 22 months since it was judged my view is the conversion of the school should go ahead."

Dame Eleanor said: "Over the last two years I have consistently spoken with everyone involved, convened meetings at the highest level and tried everything that I possibly could but ministers have decided not to change the plan."

Epping Forest Guardian:

Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing has supported parents in their campaign against the trust

A spokesperson for the academy trust said: “We are an education charity that only ever works in the best interests of children. So much has been said about our team over the last few months that has been wrong, unfair and hurtful, and it would have been easier at times to withdraw from the process.

“But our guiding principle is to help children get a first-class education so that they are able to live their best lives, and we never want to give up on that. We have always wanted simply to bring that same level of commitment to the pupils of Waltham Holy Cross Primary School, and we are delighted that the government, and so many parents, agree with us.

“NET has a strong record of improvement within the schools we lead and we will work tirelessly every day to raise standards at Waltham Holy Cross Primary. We are excited about being part of this new chapter in its story, starting today (Friday), and we hope everyone will now come together to support that aim.”