12:19pm Monday 9th January 2012
By David Hardiman
CAMPAIGNERS trying to stop the forced conversion of a Tottenham school to an academy will hold a public meeting tonight to rally support.
Members of the Save Downhills campaign have joined the National Union of Teachers to set up the meeting at the school, in Philip Lane, at 7pm, with speakers including Tottenham MP David Lammy and general secretary of the NUT Christine Blower.
The school 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.
Campaigners argue that Education Secretary Michael Gove should wait until Ofsted inspectors visit the school in two months to see if it is improving before pressing ahead with the plan. They also pointed to comments from the Department for Education describing the borough’s schools as “the worst in performing in inner London” as evidence that little consultation has been done.
Parent Susan Moyse said: “Do they not know that Haringey is an outer London borough? If we were in Inner London, we'd have a level playing field with other boroughs.
“We'd be given up to £1,500 more per pupil to spend every year on raising standards. And results at Downhills are not going backwards this year – far from it.”
An inspection from Ofsted in September showed the school has made “significant improvements” since it was given a notice to improve by inspectors early last year.
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.
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