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Governors at anti-academy Downhills Primary School in Tottenham removed by Department for Education
Governors at a Tottenham primary school at the centre of anti-academy protests have been removed and a Government-approved board put in place.
Downhills Primary School, in Philip Lane, was handed an academy order by the Department for Education (DfE) this morning, and the current board of governors – who opposed converting to an academy – was sacked.
An interim executive board, appointed by the department, arrived at 10am to take charge of the school and launch a consultation with parents on the school’s future – with Education Secretary Michael Gove recommending the Harris Federation becomes the school’s sponsor.
The DfE had said it would wait until the full report of an Ofsted inspection carried out last month before making any decision, but Investigators recommended last week that the school be placed into special measures – the worst rating.
Headteacher Leslie Church resigned before half term after learning of the outcome.
Parents and staff formed the Save Downhills protest group after the Haringey Independent revealed that four schools in the borough would face forced conversion to academy status in December.
Mr Gove was forced to delay the plan at Downhills after governors threatened legal action, arguing that they had not been given a chance to prove that the school had improved – but last month’s Ofsted inspection was highly critical of the leadership and teaching.
In a statement, the DfE said: “Downhills has been underperforming for several years and Ofsted have now found that the school requires special measures. They have found that the school is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and that those responsible for leading, managing and governing the school do not have the capacity to secure the necessary improvement.
“We have therefore decided to appoint an interim executive board to give the school the leadership and expertise it needs to improve.
“Harris are our preferred sponsor for Downhills. They are a charity who have turned around 13 previously failing schools in London, eight of which have now been judged as outstanding
“We think the strong external challenge and support from an Academy sponsor is the best way to improve schools that are consistently underperforming.”
The Harris Federation runs 13 academies in south London and is sponsored by Conservative peer Lord Harris, whose Carpetright store was burned down by looters during the riots last August.
This morning’s decision means Downhills is the last of the four schools in the borough threatened with forced conversion to fail to stop the DfE’s plan.
Last month, Coleraine Park Primary School in Glendish Road reluctantly agreed to become an academy, following the same move by Noel Park a week earlier. Governors at Nightingale Primary School in Bounds Green Road were removed by the DfE and replaced with a Government-approved board after they refused to comply.