Hartley Primary Academy to be Renamed as Leigh Academy Hartley in 2024, Sparking Mixed Reactions from Parents

Hartley Primary Academy in Longfield, near Gravesend, is set to undergo a name change. The school, which has been a part of the Leigh Academies Trust (LAT) for over a decade, will be renamed Leigh Academy Hartley starting in September 2024. However, this decision has been met with mixed reactions from parents, with some expressing anger and confusion.

The 1841-built school, which currently has 443 students aged three to 11, was converted to an academy in 2013. The LAT announced the name change in their winter newsletter in December, but many parents did not hear about it until a letter was sent out on January 5.

According to the letter, the decision to change the name was made unanimously by the LAT directors, school governors, and leadership teams. The new name will become effective in September, with new uniforms available for the incoming students.

Some parents, such as Julia Griffiths and Luke Jewell, have expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision. Griffiths, a mother of two, believes that the change was not properly communicated and that it goes against the historic nature of the school. Jewell, a father of five, also feels that parents were not consulted and that the decision was made in a “money-making scheme.”

A petition objecting to the name change has garnered over 160 signatures, with concerns raised about the reputation of the school and the lack of consultation with parents. However, the LAT has stated that the decision was made after extensive consultation with key stakeholders and will benefit the school in the long run.

The Trust’s people and communications director, Richard Taylor, emphasized the importance of a unified identity for all academies under the LAT umbrella. He also stated that the cost of the name change will be borne by the Trust, rather than the academy itself.

The name change will also coincide with the arrival of the new principal, Stuart Mitchell, who will take over after the Easter half-term. The current principal, Nicole Galinis, will be leaving the school. The LAT believes that the new name will help in attracting high-quality staff and creating a strong sense of community among all the academies under its management.

Although some parents may still have concerns about the change, the LAT is confident that it will benefit the school and its students in the long run.

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