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Downhills Primary School in Tottenham to be forcibly converted to academy, Michael Gove announces
A Tottenham primary school will be forced to convert into an academy by September despite a six-month campaign to stop it by staff and parents.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said that after receiving a report from the Interim Executive Board he installed at Downhills Primary School in Philip Lane in February, it was “failing” and must be converted into an academy run by the Harris Federation.
The new academy will open at the start of the next academic year in September.
Teachers and parents from the Save Downhills campaign protested in Westminster yesterday and invited Mr Gove visit the school, as members of the National Union of Teachers and UNISON held a second one-day strike over the issue.
The school was placed in special measures by Ofsted in February, leading to the resignation of headteacher Leslie Church and the sacking of the board of governors, to be replaced by a five-member board selected by the Department for Education (DfE).
In a statement, it said: “Mr Gove took into account the chronic underperformance at Downhills and Ofsted’s report in January which found that the school was failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and that those responsible for leading, managing and governing the school were not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement.
“The Interim Executive Board’s report states that radical structural solutions are needed to deliver and sustain rapid improvement at the school and it is confident that the Harris Federation will be able to deliver such solutions.
“The Secretary of State has therefore decided that to deliver the improvement needed, the school should be converted to a sponsored Academy under the leadership of the Harris Federation. The new Academy will open in September.”
The move comes despite 94 per cent of parents who responded to a consultation saying they wanted the school to remain under local authority control.
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.
Chief executive, Dan Moynihan, and primary director, Robin Bosher, are two of five members of the board installed at Downhills to oversee the school’s conversion to an academy.
Both men were knighted for services to education in the Queen's Birthday Honours List on Saturday.
The new board’s report to the DfE – labelled a ‘sham consultation’ by campaigners – said that “radical solutions are important at Downhills to deliver and sustain rapid improvement at the school”, and that the Harris Federation was the best body to deliver them.
In February, Coleraine Park Primary School in Glendish Road reluctantly agreed to become an academy, following the same move by Noel Park Primary School in Gladstone Avenue a week earlier.
Governors at Nightingale Primary School in Bounds Green Road were removed by the DfE and replaced with a Government-approved board when they refused to comply.