Vested interests in the education world know no bounds in their opposition to academies, but this one is a corker. The headteacher of the only school on the Isles of Scilly was hastily suspended yesterday, without explanation, after it emerged that he was venturing to the mainland and travelling all the way to London to discuss potential Academy status for his school.
The islands are run by the locally loathed Chief Executive of the Unitary Authority, Philip Hygate. In a remarkable display of efficiency Hygate is also the Director of Education (as well as the Returning Officer and the Standards Officer etcetera.) The headteacher, who has turned the school around, is thought to be warming to the idea of academy status and the freedom this would grant him, but it’s known that Mr Hygate would rather cut his hands off than lose control of the school and, more importantly, its budget. He, and he alone, has the power to call in auditors and is claiming to have discovered an “irregularity” in the school’s books. He appears to be accusing the head of embezzling funds, much to the bafflement of the residents. The local media is reporting:
“Police Sergeant Colin Taylor confirmed during the afternoon yesterday that there had been no ongoing investigation or complaint made about any member of the Five Islands School staff.”
Islanders are close to mutiny. One sent a carrier pigeon to Guido this afternoon exclaiming:
“This must be the last straw. The Chief Executive appears to have gone mad with power. This kind of operation has his prints all over it. Rather than allow the Headteacher to decide what’s best for the schoolchildren he has set in motion a chain of events which has one simple objective: prevent academy status and retain the power and the budget for the Council. What we need now is for Michael Gove to come to these islands, talk to the people and get to the bottom of a rotten system.”
Hygate was being buttered up in Downing Street just last month and Guido has made the Department of Education aware of the stitch up. Gove to the rescue?