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Department for Education denies Harris Federation conflict of interest on new Downhills Primary School board
Two members of the Government-approved board installed at a Tottenham primary school to run a consultation are from ministers’ preferred academy sponsor.
Harris Federation chief executive, Dan Moynihan, and primary director, Robin Bosher, took their seats on the five-member interim executive board (IEB) at Downhills Primary School in Philip Lane this morning after the Department for Education (DfE) removed the board of governors.
Education Secretary Michael Gove wants to force the school into becoming an academy, but had delayed the plan until a highly critical Ofsted report was published last week.
The IEB’s job to run a consultation with parents on whether the school should become an academy and whether the Harris Federation should become the sponsor, but the DfE denied there was any conflict of interest with Dr Moynihan and Mr Bosher sitting on the board.
In a statement, it said: “Harris are part of the IEB because they are the preferred sponsor and it makes sense for them to be involved in explaining their ideas.
“If and when the IEB formulate and agree a recommendation to put to the Secretary of State as part of their report on the consultation, Harris would not take part in that discussion. An observer from the local authority can also be present.
“The actual decision as to whether the school becomes an academy is for the Secretary of State, not the IEB.”
The duo join chairman of the Young People’s Learning Agency Les Walton, governor of the Haberdashers Askes Federation Academy in south east London Dame Sylvia Morris, and director of policy at the Audit Commission Ian Hickman.
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.
Parents from the Save Downhills group, who oppose the conversion to an academy and want the school community to decide its own fate, protested outside the school this morning as members of the new board arrived.
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