May 20 2013 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Parents from a Tottenham primary school are today lodging a claim against “bullying” Education Secretary Michael Gove at the High Court.
Parents from Downhills Primary School are seeking a judicial review of the controversial decision to force the popular Philip Lane school to become an academy from September, despite overwhelming opposition from the parents and local community.
A £45,000 consultation released last month revealed 94 per cent of parents were against the school becoming an academy.
Save Downhills - which has been the driving force behind a sustained campaign to keep the school under local authority control - has continued to question the sense behind the move, especially as SATS results are set to rise again.
The former governors - sacked by Mr Gove earlier this year to make way for an Interim Executive Board (IEB) of his choosing – had predicted this would be the case.
Parent Susan Moyse said: “Downhills is a creative, inclusive and popular school which doesn’t tolerate bullying, that’s why we’re taking the Secretary of State to court – he’s abusing his power again; riding roughshod over the wishes of a community.
“We believe parents should have a say in how their children are educated.”
But the Department for Education (DfE) has justified the decision to create an academy under the Harris Federation - owned by Carpetright boss and Tory donor Lord Harris - as Ofsted put the school in special measures in January, despite a report by the same inspector published just a few weeks earlier saying the school was making progress.
A DfE spokesman said: “Downhills had been underperforming for several years. Ofsted’s report in January found that the school was failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and that those responsible for leading, managing and governing the school were not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement.
“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.”
- The parents are asking for public donations to help fund their legal challenge. Details at www.savedownhills.org/donate.