Thamesmead headteacher accused of poaching pupils from nearby schools in ‘unscrupulous’ ad campaign

Thamesmead headteacher accused of poaching pupils

The advert is attached to the back of a specially designed bicycle

Willow Bank Primary School has achieved 81 per cent of its target pupils this autumn

First published in News Exclusive by

A HEADTEACHER in Thamesmead has been accused of trying to poach pupils from nearby schools.

A team of advertising professionals has been deployed by Willow Bank Primary School, in Yarnton Way, to recruit pupils.

As well as leafleting, it has placed giant advertising boards outside nearby rival schools at the beginning and end of school - leaving parents "disgusted".

Headteacher Angela Barry is also co-chief executive of a council body working to build partnerships within the borough’s schools - the Bexley Education Improvement Partnership.

One of Willow Bank's targets is Bexley Business Academy.

Chief executive Sam Elms said: “This practise strikes me as unscrupulous, it has an air of desperation about it and brings education into disrepute.

“Luckily our parents are very loyal and they wouldn’t move and in fact, we have had four children come to us from Willow Bank who were unhappy with the education there.

“I don’t feel threatened by it but it is morally unfair, we just wouldn’t do this.”

Mrs Elms believes Angela Barry should step down from her chief executive position following the advertising campaign.

She added: “The whole mission of that group is about promoting school partnerships and that is clearly not what she is doing.

“If I was her then I would resign, her position is untenable - I just don’t know what she is thinking.”

“I don’t feel threatened by it but it's morally unfair, we just wouldn’t do this.”

Patt Biggs, 55, whose grand-children study at Bexley Business Academy, said: “I think it is appalling, if it was any other business they just wouldn’t have put up with it.

“It’s really disgusting to do.”

Mrs Barry defended her advertising campaign saying: "The main purpose of our current advertising is to catch those families who have recently moved into the area and whose children have not yet secured a school place in reception, year one or year two classes.

“Parents of children within local schools, who are happy and contented with their child's school will not even read the literature.

“We have chosen this innovative form of advertising as the school is both new and innovative and we are very pleased with the response received so far.”

Willow Bank Primary School opened in September and currently has 81 per cent of its target number of pupils for the autumn term.

The Bexley Education Improvement Partnership is a group of 15 primary and secondary schools working together to help children get the most from their time at school.

WHAT THE ADVERT SAID

Willow Bank Primary School

Is your child 4 to 7 years old?

Are you looking for a brighter future?

Now Open.

Comments (5)

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4:56pm Wed 16 Nov 11

bigal1984 says...

Am i missing the point here,are we calling for a resignation for giving children a chance to be part of a school in an area where there are children that have not yet had this opportunity?
Am i missing the point here,are we calling for a resignation for giving children a chance to be part of a school in an area where there are children that have not yet had this opportunity? bigal1984
  • Score: 1

6:42pm Thu 17 Nov 11

teachchn says...

I cant believe this. So many schools in that area have spaces for children. Why did they spend money on building a new school (which was not ready for the children when they opened) and rather use that money to expand and enrich the local schools. Putting up ads outside another school is really showing pure desperation. Why are the schools not working together? I know the Business Academy. It has hard working teachers doing amazing things with what they have got... why would someone want to steal from them?
I cant believe this. So many schools in that area have spaces for children. Why did they spend money on building a new school (which was not ready for the children when they opened) and rather use that money to expand and enrich the local schools. Putting up ads outside another school is really showing pure desperation. Why are the schools not working together? I know the Business Academy. It has hard working teachers doing amazing things with what they have got... why would someone want to steal from them? teachchn
  • Score: 0

8:35pm Fri 18 Nov 11

SchoolRunMum says...

I agree with bigal1984. This woman has changed the lives of the children in her schools. I had a son at Northumberland heath primary and i have a niece at Peareswood primary as well as talking to the other parents i know that i support Mrs Barry and what she gives to the children. Before she came to our school it was failing special measures and she literally turned it around and i know she will do the same with Willowbank. Where has this scapegoat attitude come from by saying she should resign? what rubbish! If someone looses their job because they have a passion for making a difference in the world then that is a very sad state. As for Pat Biggs quoted in the article, do you live in a bubble?! that is exactly what businesses do! When i walk down the high street there are people with sandwich boards or giving out flyers or standing on the corner with an arrow saying fast food restaurant that way. That is what separates the successful businesses from the ones that have closed down. It doesn't mean they are poaching children but just being savvy about their target audience... Parents. Schools don't have the budgets for TV adds so they have to make do and if this method is what they choose then fine. As for teachchn's comment schools in that area ARE full, which is why Bexley council asked for proposals to open a new school on that site. There were school age children in the area who were not in education. The council had many proposals and from them they chose Mrs Barry's I should think because of her strong history of success. If people spent as much time helping their children with the home work or learning to read rather than criticising someone who is trying to make a difference then this country might not have such bad stats of uneducated and unemployed under 25's
I agree with bigal1984. This woman has changed the lives of the children in her schools. I had a son at Northumberland heath primary and i have a niece at Peareswood primary as well as talking to the other parents i know that i support Mrs Barry and what she gives to the children. Before she came to our school it was failing special measures and she literally turned it around and i know she will do the same with Willowbank. Where has this scapegoat attitude come from by saying she should resign? what rubbish! If someone looses their job because they have a passion for making a difference in the world then that is a very sad state. As for Pat Biggs quoted in the article, do you live in a bubble?! that is exactly what businesses do! When i walk down the high street there are people with sandwich boards or giving out flyers or standing on the corner with an arrow saying fast food restaurant that way. That is what separates the successful businesses from the ones that have closed down. It doesn't mean they are poaching children but just being savvy about their target audience... Parents. Schools don't have the budgets for TV adds so they have to make do and if this method is what they choose then fine. As for teachchn's comment schools in that area ARE full, which is why Bexley council asked for proposals to open a new school on that site. There were school age children in the area who were not in education. The council had many proposals and from them they chose Mrs Barry's I should think because of her strong history of success. If people spent as much time helping their children with the home work or learning to read rather than criticising someone who is trying to make a difference then this country might not have such bad stats of uneducated and unemployed under 25's SchoolRunMum
  • Score: 0

9:32am Sat 19 Nov 11

Outandabout says...

Poaching pupils? In my day teachers would only scald you
Poaching pupils? In my day teachers would only scald you Outandabout
  • Score: 0

2:16am Mon 21 Nov 11

danielbelvedere says...

wait...i have seen the business academy with posters and banners along yarnton way advertising the school...even as far as willow bank..."we just wouldnt do this"? hypocrite!!
wait...i have seen the business academy with posters and banners along yarnton way advertising the school...even as far as willow bank..."we just wouldnt do this"? hypocrite!! danielbelvedere
  • Score: 1

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