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.


Willow Bank Primary School

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