Breaking news: Downhills primary school to become an academy

18:38 20 June 2012

Downhills Primary School will become an academy this September. Pic: Tony Gay.

Downhills Primary School will become an academy this September. Pic: Tony Gay.

Archant

Downhills Primary School will be forced to become an academy - despite just three per cent of parents being in favour of the move in a consultation.

The Department for Education today confirmed the Tottenham school will reopen in September as an academy under the Harris Federation - which runs a string of schools in south London and, from the next academic year, Coleraine Park in Glendish Road, Tottenham.

This is in spite of a fierce battle from the Save Downhills group, who are desperate to keep the school under local authority control, and a consultation which revealed 94 per cent - or 219 of the 234 respondants - were against becoming an academy.

A second survey of 100 parents, carried out by Populus at the gates of the Philip Lane primary school, found 80 per cent wanted the school to remain under the Haringey’s control.

Just 25 per cent, when given an option of sponsors if the school had to become an academy, selected Harris.

Yet Education Secretary Michael Gove stood by his plans to hand the school over to Harris, citing the latest Ofsted report and a report of the Interim Executive Board (IEB).

The IEB, including two Harris Federation staff members and four others, was parachuted in after Mr Gove sacked the governing body earlier this year.

A DfE spokesman said: “The IEB’s report states that radical structural solutions are needed to deliver and sustain rapid improvement at the school and it is confident that the Harris Federation will be able to deliver such solutions.

“The Secretary of State has therefore decided that to deliver the improvement needed, the school should be converted to a sponsored academy under the leadership of the Harris Federation. The new academy will open in September.

“Harris, a not-for profit educational charity, will give the school the leadership and expertise it needs to improve. Harris has turned around a number of previously failing schools in London, nine of which have now been judged as outstanding.”

Haringey NUT secretary Julie Davies has reacted angrily to the news - which came just one day after pupils, teachers and parents protested outside the DfE headquarters in central London.

She said: “The Secretary of State is clearly abusing his power. He is using the school for political purposes. This just proves that Mr Gove is both and ideologue and an enemy of promise - the promise shown by Haringey and its track record in running 62 primary school, not one.”

But Harris Federation chief executive and IEB member Dr Dan Moynihan was “delighted”. He said: “We have agreed to be sponsor because we firmly believe we have the track record and experience to transform the quality of education on offer at the school and to support the staff and pupils.

“Our first priority, in every school we operate, is to make sure that children receive their right to an excellent education. In sponsoring Downhills as an academy, we will be building on everything that is already good about the school in order to accelerate its path out of Special Measures and into Good and then Outstanding Ofsted status.”

The Save Downhills campaign group have yet to comment on the news.

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