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Downhills Primary School headteacher resigns as school fails Ofsted inspection
A Tottenham school at the centre of anti-academy protests has failed an Ofsted inspection and its headteacher has resigned.
Downhills Primary School, in Philip Lane, has been placed in special measures after Ofsted inspectors who visited the school last week ruled that not enough progress had been made since a report last year.
Headteacher Leslie Church offered his resignation on Friday and it was “reluctantly accepted” by governors at the school. He will step down with immediate effect and an interim headteacher will be put in place, while the school will not challenge the result of the inspection.
Ofsted investigators visited Downhills last week when Education Secretary Michael Gove ordered an inspection after being threatened with legal action over pressing ahead with changes before staff had a chance to show that the school had improved.
The result of the inspection paves the way for the Department for Education to force the school into becoming an academy.
Governors said they would now seek a “constructive dialogue” with Mr Gove about any changes at the school and have written to him to ask for a meeting to discuss the way forward.
In a statement, the board of governors said: “The school’s performance was judged against new Ofsted performance standards that are far tougher than the previous guidelines and pay less heed to important social and contextual factors.
“Nonetheless, the governing body acknowledge that the Ofsted inspectors considered the achievement, teaching, leadership and management standards of the school to be inadequate.
“The governing body has taken immediate action to deal with these failings. At a meeting of the governors yesterday it was agreed that Haringey Council and the senior leadership team would work with us to prepare a remedial action plan which is robust and measurable. It was also agreed to appoint a mentor head teacher from an outstanding school to assist our interim head teacher.”
The governors added that outgoing headteacher Mr Church “is tremendously popular with parents, staff and children and retains the full support of the governing body”.
When Ofsted inspectors visited the school last September, they found “significant improvements” had been made, including the replacement of poor teachers.
The school had been given a deadline of mid-January to commit to becoming an academy and to find a sponsor, or face an interim board of governors being imposed, but the current governors argued that was illegal and threatened a judicial review.
Today they reiterated that they believe that any restructuring of the school should not be “imposed from above” and that the current board of governors should remain.
More than 1,000 people marched from the school to Haringey Civic Centre in Wood Green High Road last month in protest at the bid to turn four schools in the borough into academies.
Earlier this week, Noel Park Primary School in Gladstone Avenue voluntarily agreed to convert, while Coleraine Park Primary School in Glendish Road has written to Mr Gove to say it will not agree voluntarily to become an academy. Governors at Nightingale Primary School in Bounds Green Road are also set to reject the idea.
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