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Anti-academy group launches week of action to 'save Downhills Primary School'
CAMPAIGNERS trying to stop a Tottenham school being forced into becoming an academy have organised a week of action as a key deadline approaches.
Downhills Primary School, in Philip Lane, has been given a deadline of January 20 to commit to the change, or face an interim board of governors being imposed by the Department for Education. The current governors are considering a judicial review.
Tottenham MP David Lammy will be among the speakers at a public meeting on Monday night at the school, and Save Downhills campaigners will perform a protest song there on Wednesday afternoon.
The week concludes with children, staff and parents symbolically hugging the school in a human chain on Friday afternoon, in a message to Education Secretary Michael Gove that they will not accept enforced change.
Yesterday, Mr Gove labelled Haringey parents and teachers — who want to stop the Government forcing at least four primary schools into academies against their will — “ideologues happy with failure”.
But campaigners say there is “no evidence” that becoming an academy would improve standards, and that an Ofsted report in September showed teachers were making changes.
In a statement, the group said: “Downhills is rooted in its community — it has belonged to the people of Tottenham for more than a century.
“It represents a constant and caring presence in the often turbulent lives of our children.
"Tottenham is still reeling from last August’s riots – the community wants to rally round the recovery and the academy agenda is a distraction.”
Three other schools – Nightingale Primary School, in Bounds Green Road, Wood Green; Noel Park Primary School, in Gladstone Avenue, Wood Green; and Coleraine Park Primary School, in Glendish Road, Tottenham – 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, and can attract private investment.
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.