12:30pm Friday 16th December 2011
By David Hardiman
A GOVERNOR at a Tottenham school threatened with forced conversion to an academy has confirmed it is considering legal action.
Officials from the Department for Education visited Downhills Primary School in Philip Lane last week to tell governors that they must commit to becoming an academy by January 12 and or ministers will remove the board and take over by the end of the month.
Tottenham MP David Lammy told the Haringey Independent yesterday that he had recommended governors launch a judicial review of the plan because of a lack of consultation.
Parent governor Wendy Sugarman said even if the school decided to convert by January 11, it would leave them only two weeks to find a sponsor and come up with a plan.
She said: "If I was getting my house redecorated I'd probably take longer getting quotes than that.
"We are exploring all legal options and have taken advice - we don't believe that what has been put on the table is the right thing for Downhills."
Oftsed investigators gave staff a year to improve standards in March after finding that the school had major failings.
But a progress report in September showed that "significant improvements" had been made and that Ofsted was satisfied that the staff were turning things around.
The Haringey Independent understands three other schools – Nightingale Primary School, Noel Park Primary School and Coleraine Park Primary School – have also been warned they could face conversion.
Academies are independent, state-funded schools, which receive their funding directly from central government, rather than through local councils.
They have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, curriculum, length of terms and school days and do not need to follow national pay and conditions for teachers.
Academies were originally a Labour policy designed to improve struggling schools, primarily in deprived areas, but the policy has been expanded by the coalition Government.
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