DOWNHILLS SCHOOL FORMER GOVERNORS AND SAVE DOWNHILLS CAMPAIGN JOINT PRESS RELEASE
Downhills parent takes legal action against dismissal of Governors and unlawful imposition of Interim Executive Board
Media Opportunity: Press statement to be issued by parents outside the park entrance to Downhills School at 3.45pm on Monday 26th March 2012
Susan Moyse, a parent of a child at Downhills primary school, has advised the Secretary of State of her intention to seek a judicial review of the decision to replace the school’s Governing Body with an Interim Executive Board (“IEB”). Lawyers acting for Ms Moyse sent a pre-action letter to Michael Gove on March 23rd.
The letter of claim states that the Secretary of State has acted unlawfully in imposing an IEB and asks for the Governing Body to be reinstated and for it to be allowed to hold a fair and lawful consultation with parents, staff and the local community on whether Downhills should remain a local community school or become a sponsored academy.
Susan Moyse said, “This school was already rapidly improving as a community school. The parents recognise this and have voted overwhelmingly against academy status. We’re not the ideologues and we don’t want our children used as guinea pigs in the forced academy experiment.”
Beth Handley of Hickman and Rose, Solicitor for Susan Moyse said, “The Secretary of State has considerable powers under the laws surrounding Academy conversion, however there remain checks and balances in the system which the Secretary of State has ridden roughshod over.”
The Secretary of State’s response to the letter is due by 6th April 2012.
Downhills Primary School has seen an unprecedented increase in its standards over the past two years. Standards at Key Stage One are now above national averages and above the government’s own floor targets at Key Stage Two. Having received a notice to improve following an Ofsted inspection in January 2011, it had a satisfactory monitoring visit in September 2011, where the inspector noted “a clear trend of improvement”.
Downhills primary school was placed in special measures following an Ofsted inspection of the school on 26th and 27th January 2012. The school leadership and Governing Body acknowledged the valid conclusions of Ofsted, and the Ofsted report, which was published on 7thMarch 2012, was not challenged. In response to Ofsted’s findings the school leadership and local authority formulated an action plan to address the failings identified. Haringey Council’s Head of School Standards, who is also an Ofsted inspector, spent two weeks in the school developing the plan, which was submitted to Ofsted on 9th March 2012.
Once the outcome of the Ofsted inspection was known, the Governing Body also commenced a consultation with parents on the principle of academy conversion. The consultation opened on 24th February 2012 with a closing date of 16th March 2012. More than half of the parents replied and over 90% opposed forced academy conversion and voted for Downhills to remain a community school in local authority control.
The Governing Body met with representatives of the Secretary of State on 8th March 2012. The Governors sought further information from the Secretary of State on the options open to the school. On 11th March 2012 the Governing Body sent a copy of their action plan to the Secretary of State and confirmed that they would consult further with the school community on the two options of a) remaining a community school or b) converting to an academy with The Harris Federation.
On 15th March the Secretary of State issued an academy order stating that Downhills should be converted into an academy sponsored by the Harris Foundation. On the same day the Governing Body was informed without notice that they had been replaced by an Interim Executive Board comprised of 5 members: Les Walton (chair), Dame Sylvia Morris, Dan Moynihan (chief executive of Harris Federation), Robin Bosher (Primary Director of Harris Federation) and Ian Hickman.