Department for Education denies Harris Federation conflict of interest on new Downhills Primary School board

Dr Moynihan, who is the chief executive of the Harris Federation, took his seat on Downhills' new board this morning.

Dr Moynihan, who is the chief executive of the Harris Federation, took his seat on Downhills' new board this morning.

First published in News Haringey Independent: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

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.

Comments (2)

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2:26pm Thu 15 Mar 12

janee says...

The first all-through academy was established in 2003 and has had plenty of time to prove itself. Since then there have been a further 18 all-through academies, reporting results and they do not make pretty reading.

4 record less good results than any of the threatened Haringey primaries. One is amongst the worst performing primaries in the whole country. 10 record worse KS2 results than either Nightingale or Downhills, 6 of those had higher KS1 results than Downhills - so worse progress - and none the same intake.

8 of those academies with worse results than Downhills showed worse results in 2011 than 2010. 5 out of 13 showed up to 31% worse KS2 results than the predecessor community primary school.

Does this really give the confidence to hand over primaries to these sponsors?

Harris Federation have no experience of running primaries: having taken over a high performing on only this academic year. Even so, on their website they are falsely implying that they are responsible for the KS2 results: "In 2011 97% of OUR children achieved a L4 in English at the end of Year 6. "

There-in lies the real difference. Community schools get on with the business of educating. Academy chains spend time and money on public relations.
The first all-through academy was established in 2003 and has had plenty of time to prove itself. Since then there have been a further 18 all-through academies, reporting results and they do not make pretty reading. 4 record less good results than any of the threatened Haringey primaries. One is amongst the worst performing primaries in the whole country. 10 record worse KS2 results than either Nightingale or Downhills, 6 of those had higher KS1 results than Downhills - so worse progress - and none the same intake. 8 of those academies with worse results than Downhills showed worse results in 2011 than 2010. 5 out of 13 showed up to 31% worse KS2 results than the predecessor community primary school. Does this really give the confidence to hand over primaries to these sponsors? Harris Federation have no experience of running primaries: having taken over a high performing on only this academic year. Even so, on their website they are falsely implying that they are responsible for the KS2 results: "In 2011 97% of OUR children achieved a L4 in English at the end of Year 6. " There-in lies the real difference. Community schools get on with the business of educating. Academy chains spend time and money on public relations. janee
  • Score: 0

1:28pm Sun 18 Mar 12

Rodger1960 says...

It would be worth submitting a FOI request about Harris' admission policies and challenge them as well. If you look at Harris Academy Crystal palace (their flagship academy), although they reportedly use a banded admissions policy only 4% of the students are below average ability and 56% are above average ability. The ability of the cohort is skewed towards the higher ability students and out of line with ability of the students in primary schools within 1 to 3 miles of the academy.

My concern is that Harris use a banded entry, the ability of the students in the area and a one of most deprived parts of Croydon is next to the school, the intake of the academy does not reflect it.
It would be worth submitting a FOI request about Harris' admission policies and challenge them as well. If you look at Harris Academy Crystal palace (their flagship academy), although they reportedly use a banded admissions policy only 4% of the students are below average ability and 56% are above average ability. The ability of the cohort is skewed towards the higher ability students and out of line with ability of the students in primary schools within 1 to 3 miles of the academy. My concern is that Harris use a banded entry, the ability of the students in the area and a one of most deprived parts of Croydon is next to the school, the intake of the academy does not reflect it. Rodger1960
  • Score: 0

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