2:01pm Wednesday 11th January 2012
By David Hardiman
GOVERNORS at a Tottenham school are “disappointed” after a politician labelled their anti-academy legal challenge “disruptive”.
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone (Lib Dem) said on Monday that “legal battles will only be disruptive to pupils”, as governors at Downhills Primary School decide whether to take Education Secretary Michael Gove to court over his plan to force the Philip Lane school to become an academy.
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, and campaigners have given Mr Gove until next Wednesday to respond to their warning of legal action before proceeding.
But in an open letter to Ms Featherstone, the board of governors said: “We were very disappointed to read in the Haringey Independent that you consider our campaign and the legal challenge mounted by our elected governors as ‘disruptive to pupils’ and that it would ‘divert attention from the vital need to turn some schools around’.
“We want a chance to properly consult with parents and the local community before any major changes are made. Is that really so unreasonable?”
The campaigners also pointed to a commitment on the Liberal Democrat website that reads “we want to make it possible for local people to work together to run local services”, and said it was evidence that the party should be supporting Downhills’ bid.
Two schools in Ms Featherstone’s constituency – Nightingale Primary School, in Bounds Green Road, Wood Green, and Noel Park Primary School, in Gladstone Avenue, Wood Green – have also been warned they face conversion.
Campaigners at Downhills 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.
Mr Gove’s plan would mean Haringey primary schools being the first in the country to be forced into academy status, and the battle is widely being seen as a test case for similar changes in the rest of the country.
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