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

Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood hasn’t been impressed by Judy Murray’s dancing so far.

Read more

It’s back to university life and back to preppy basics fashion-wise.

Read more

Slough Station was closed for nearly six hours while police and forensic officers were at the scene.

Read more

TOP Stories

11:37
The two bodies were found on the same site

Police believe two ‘unexplained’ deaths in Barking may be linked after two bodies were found at St Margaret’s churchyard just over three weeks apart.

Police are in Latvia as they hunt for Arnis Zalkalns, a suspect in the case of missing Hanwell teen Alice Gross

Officers investigating the disappearance of Alice Gross have travelled to Latvia as police continue to pursue convicted murderer Arnis Zalkalns in the search for the missing Hanwell teenager.

Francis Olawole has been convicted of sexual assault on the rail network for a second time [Photograph from British Transport Police]

A man from Newham who sexually assaulted a woman and exposed himself to her on the DLR has been sentenced to 16 months in prison and placed on the sex offenders register for seven years.

Promotions

Advanced running and training technology for beginners up to elite athletes

If you’re thinking of adding running treadmill to your fitness routine, you’re on the right track! There are several advantages to running on a treadmill versus running outdoors.

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the ZOE was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

London Bloggers

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The cast, including Josie Lawrence and Mike Myers

Simon Collins catches up with the improv impresarios, who despite being the world’s longest-running comedy show with the same cast, have lost none of the razor-sharp wit:

Monday, September 1, 2014
Do you really need an explanation for that?! (Pic by Serena Marinelli)

If you’ve ever seen an Italian movie, you would probably know how important body language is in the culture.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Don't waste any of your harvest

If you are now inundated with ripe tomatoes, juicy green beans, berries and herbs, don’t leave them to go stringy or mouldy because the freezer can go a long way to making your crops last well into winter.

Quizzes

(Photo by Ben Horton/Getty Images for Madame Tussauds Hollywood)

If there’s one thing that can change Londoners from nice, normal people into superhumans capable of extreme levels of rage and passive aggression, it’s the descent below-ground.

Read more
Do you fancy yourself as a football ground know-it-all? Try our devilishly difficult quiz!

How well do you know your football stadiums? This brand new quiz from London24 will seperate the men from the boys...

Read more
Do you know your Thames truths from the porkie pies? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

So, you live (or work) in London, and you think you know the river well.

Read more