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Downhills Primary School campaigners in Westminster protest during second strike
Parents and teachers at a Tottenham primary fighting forced conversion to an academy will go to Westminster tomorrow to urge the Education Secretary to visit the school.
Staff and members of the Save Downhills campaign will travel from the Philip Lane school to the Department for Education’s offices in central London during a second one-day strike in protest at the plans to convert the school into an academy.
Parent Janet Lallysmith, who has a daughter at the school, said that the campaigners had decided to travel to Westminster because Education Secretary Michael Gove had refused to visit them despite numerous invites.
She said: “Despite the school community repeatedly calling on Michael Gove to come to our school to explain how forced sponsored academy status will benefit ours or other schools we've heard nothing, so decided that we will go to him.”
National Union of Teachers (NUT) and UNISON members reject Mr Gove’s argument that the switch to an academy run by the Harris Federation is the best way for the school, which was placed in special measures by Ofsted in February, to improve.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “This is another example of the Education Secretary forcing his will and vision for education upon communities who do not want to see their schools handed over to unaccountable sponsors.”
Teachers at the school first took strike action over the change to their employer if the school becomes an academy last month.
Mr Gove argues that the school has been underperforming for several years and believes that the switch to an academy is the best way for the school to improve.
The Harris Federation runs 13 academies in south London and is sponsored by Conservative peer Lord Harris, whose Carpetright store was burned down by looters during the riots last August.
More than 20 families from the Save Downhills campaign held a sit-in protest in the firm’s store in Tottenham Hale Retail Park last month.
Harris Federation chief executive, Dan Moynihan, and primary director, Robin Bosher, are two of five members of the interim executive board installed at Downhills to oversee the school’s conversion to an academy after the previous board of governors was removed in March.
Both men were knighted for services to education in the Queen's Birthday Honours List on Saturday.
The board are currently holding a consultation – labelled a sham by campaigners – on the switch to an academy, with the results expected to be announced later this month.