4:37pm Friday 16th December 2011
By David Hardiman
PARENTS at a Tottenham school at the centre of a row over the Government’s bid to force it to become an academy have hit out at the “outrageous” plan.
Governors at Downhills Primary School in Philip Lane has been set a deadline of mid-January by the Department for Education to commit to becoming an academy or face removal – with Education Secretary putting an interim board in place.
The board of governors are considering launching a judicial review against the legality of the decision, arguing that no consultation with parents has taken place.
And Handsworth Road resident Eva Atkins, whose four-year-old son Nathaniel attends nursery at the school, agreed.
She said: “I think the way the Department for Education is going about this is outrageous and it smacks of Michael Gove trying to make his mark on schools – he’s trying an experiment in Tottenham.
“ I know for a fact that the school has been hiring new staff and turning things around – they need to be given a chance to improve.”
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 taking steps to improve teaching.
Musician James Redwood, of Elmar Road, is heavily involved with the Save Downhills Campaign set up by parents opposed to the academy plan.
He said that his four-year-old son Arthur was in pre-school and that the decision on whether Downhills would change to being run by a private sponsor would be a major factor in which school he sent him to.
He added: “As I’m involved with teaching music I go into so many primary schools and now I’m pretty quick at working out what the feel of a school is.
“The moment I walked into Downhills I was warmly welcomed by all the staff and it was fantastic.
“Art and music are still at the centre of lessons, but what I’m wondering is if a private sponsor takes over how do we know what the focus will be?”
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.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group