Downhills academy decision ‘rides roughshod’ over Tottenham community

15:45 21 June 2012

Education secretary Michael Gove has been accused of using Tottenham schoolchildren as

Education secretary Michael Gove has been accused of using Tottenham schoolchildren as 'Guinea pigs'.

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Frustrated disbelief has met the news that Downhills primary school is to be forcibly converted into an academy from September, under the wing of sponsor the Harris Federation.

Last night the school’s interim executive board (IEB), put in place by education secretary Michael Gove in March, resolved to press ahead with conversion to academy status in a 20-page report - ignoring the wishes of 94 per cent of those who responded to its consultation.

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, said he was “surprised” by the decision, and school leaders now face the task of bringing round an “alienated” community.

A spokeswoman for Save Downhills, which has run a vociferous campaign to keep the school under local authority control despite poor Ofsted reports, said: “We are outraged that the secretary of state has ridden roughshod over the wishes of the local community.”

School parent Elsa Dechaux said: “Why did Michael Gove waste everybody’s time and over £45,000 of public money consulting us and then engineer the results? This government talks about parent choice, localism and the ‘big society’, but our voice has been ignored.

“They wanted to privatise Downhills from the start and now our community’s school has been handed on a plate to Lord Harris.”

Former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, who joined parents and staff on a strike protesting against enforced academy conversion, told the Journal today: “It’s the act of someone using the powers given to him by democracy to behave like a dictator.”

Mr Lammy said: “This is a surprising decision given the weight of opinion against becoming an academy.

“The interests of the Downhills pupils are paramount. I will be looking closely at the Harris Academy leadership to make sure that they never forget that.

“I will also be seeking assurances from them about how they intend to re-engage with the staff, parents and vibrant community that surrounds the school that has been so alienated by the actions of the Department for Education over the last six months.”

Bruce Grove councillor Joseph Ejiofor was heavily critical of the move, branding the decision “hypocrisy and an outrageous abuse of power”.

He added: “Gove talks about consultation, but this decision ignores parents’ wishes, and is part of the Tories’ ideological drive to privatise the provision of public services.

“We have seen what they are doing to the health service, what they are planning to do privatising parts of the police service; Gove is using Tottenham children as Guinea pigs to trial their plans to privatise education provision.

“Nobody is making excuses for poor performance, but there is no evidence that forcing a school to become an academy will improve its performance, especially when two per cent of its budget can be creamed off by the sponsor for ‘administration’.”

Many parents in his ward have children attending the school in Philip Lane and have lobbied him hard, he said.

“[They] love the school and care passionately about their children’s education, but they want to retain democratic accountability and a meaningful stake in running the school.

“This decision will finally break the link between the school and the local community, since it is now clear that any consultation or engagement with the local community will be meaningless.”

A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “We will continue to work closely with Downhills and with all our schools, whether they are judged as being good or outstanding or if they’re on a journey of improvement.

“We’ve consistently said becoming an academy should be ultimately a decision for schools following proper consultation with parents who need to be convinced it is the right solution and not simply told it is.”

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

Fears over growing extremist threat that is expected to continue for several years.

Read more

Doing a good environmental deed will help you feel warm inside, according to new research.

Read more

Get set! You need one of these to prepare for the start of the big countdown.

Read more

Promotions

Gamucci is a global leader and premier brand of electronic cigarettes

Gamucci has an electronic cigarette tailored for every need. We have a range of both disposable and rechargeable electronic cigarettes suitable for all adult smokers. And for a limited time, some great discounts.

Money saving Christmas gifts to add to your shopping list!

It’s nearly time to go on the hunt for Christmas presents, stuck on what to get for your nearest and dearest? We’ve picked out a selection of great deals to get you started and to help you save some pennies!

Fears over growing extremist threat that is expected to continue for several years.

Once inside, one man held a seven-inch kitchen knife to a victim’s throat while another threatened a second victim with a knife.

His lawyers want the case against him in South Africa dropped.

It’s that time of year again, who do you think should win the Sports Personality of the Year award?

TOP Stories

18:54
The teen was killed in Mossington Gardens, Bermondsey

A murder probe has been launched after an 18-year-old was fatally shot in Mossington Gardens, Bermondsey yesterday afternoon.

18:31
The sewer under Whitehall was clogged with tons on awful stuff which had to be pumped out (Picture: Thames Water)

London is blighted by the mighty bulks of congealed fat known as fatbergs, with an estimated 55,000 of them blocking sewers across the city.

18:03
All the best views: The stunning picture captured by the Met's helicopter (@MPSinthesky)

We couldn’t resist sharing this incredible picture of London, taken by the Met’s helicopter team @MPSinthesky this afternoon.

London Bloggers

Friday, November 14, 2014
Bird says back up your data

What happened after a friend of mine lost basically everything he’d created in the last 5 years:

Thursday, October 30, 2014
The Appilepsy team: Phil Efstathiou, Alex Telek , Clarence Ji, Miklos Molnar, Joran van Apeldoorn

In Tech City, things move fast. And sometimes erratically. Like phones in the pockets of people having epileptic seizures.

Friday, October 24, 2014
The 91-year-old gave the cyclist a wallop

After Baroness Sharples bragged about walloping a cyclist, London24’s cycling blogger AViewOfLondon has this to say...