The Save Downhills Campaign will be embarking on a Week of Action from Monday 9th January 2012, to coincide with the Secretary of State’s original deadline for our school to have passed a resolution to become an academy or be forced to convert.
Events which the press are invited are:-
Monday 9th January 2012, 7pm at Downhills School, Philip Lane, London N15. The NUT have organised a public meeting to strengthen and broaden the campaign against Haringey primary schools being forced to become academies. The panel will include David Lammy MP, General Secretary of the NUT Christine Blower, Alasdair Smith from the Anti-Academies Alliance and Fiona Miller from the Local Schools Network. Local councillors, parents, carers and teachers from Downhills and other local schools will also be attending.
Wednesday 11th January 2012, 3.30pm at Downhills School, Philip Lane N15. We will be recording our campaign song ‘Save Our School’. This was written by children and adults who attended our Winter Festival and will be sung and performed mainly by people connected to Downhills School. We will be uploading the final version to YouTube.
Friday 13th January 2012, 3.30pm at Downhills School, Philip Lane N15. Children, teachers, other staff, governors, parents and other family members will be ‘Hugging our Community School’. We will be creating a human chain to symbolise who the school belongs to and to show that being a community school is an important message we want to convey to the Secretary of State. A forced conversion to academy status without any consultation with the school community is not something the Downhills Community will accept.
If you would like to know more about these events or cover them for your publication, please contact Janet Lallysmith at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Janet on 07840126424.
Save Downhills Campaign – Who we are:
We are all members of the Downhills Primary School community who are worried about the Department for Education’s plans to force the school to become an academy. Our campaign is supported by parents and carers, all of the school staff, governors, our PTA, David Lammy MP, local councillors and many people in the wider community. The school was told in the last week of term in December that the Governing Body needs to agree to become an academy by 20 January 2012 or the government will disband and replace the Governing Body and seek a sponsor with a view to it becoming an Academy. This sponsor could be a private, profit-making company.
What we believe:
- We chose Downhills because it’s a thriving, happy, inner city school that welcomes children and families from around the world. We are proud that 93.5% of our pupils come from ethnic minority backgrounds. N15 has been recognised as the most diverse area in the UK.
- We have every confidence in the Headteacher and the Governing Body as they seek to improve standards. This is the Governing Body that we elected. If we were unhappy with the Governing Body or the Council we could use our votes to change them – what democracy would there be with an academy?
- Ofsted has recognised that “the school is now making satisfactory progress in addressing the issues for improvement and in raising the pupils’ achievement”. Many changes have been made and more are underway. The academy issue could derail that progress. We believe it was inappropriate for the Department for Education to raise the academy issue when governors and the Headteacher are focused on school improvement and with Ofsted due to re-inspect the school.
- To remove the school from public control is disproportionate to the problems the school faces – we think it’s a politically-motivated sledgehammer to crack a nut. More resources could help the school improve even faster – schools in Haringey receive up to £1,500 less per pupil than schools in inner London boroughs, because Haringey is funded as an outer London borough, even though our children’s needs are the same as those in inner London.
- There is no evidence that academies improve standards in the primary phase. The evidence that academies improve secondaries is open to interpretation. Haringey’s Headteachers support our stance saying that this is an “untried and unproven way of delivering school improvement”. Our children need consistency, not experiments.
- The time given for consultation is inadequate. Almost three quarters (72.8%) of our children come from homes where English is not a first language. Many of our families come from hard-to-reach communities. The number of our families living in deprivation is twice the national average.
- Key Stage 2 results for combined English and Maths are 61% although the school expects to have the results of two pupils discounted, increasing it to 64%. Whichever figure is used, it is higher than the Government’s own new “floor level” of 60%. There are many other schools which fall below this level who have not been targeted for academy conversion.
- As well as having an upward trajectory of improved results, Downhills is also good at things that are hard to measure like community involvement, art and music. For example every child takes part in instrumental music lessons. Our children are happy and secure at Downhills and we are concerned about disruption and emotional upheaval if this forced change is made.
- The Roma travelling community in particular is well represented at Downhills, as are the children of families seeking asylum from the most troubled parts of the world. Only 36 out of 59 children who took SATS last year had been with the school since Reception. Our SATS statistics are affected by welcoming these children, as many come from communities that traditionally do not perform well in tests.
- Downhills is rooted in its community; it has belonged to the people of Tottenham for more than a century. It represents a constant and caring presence in the often turbulent lives of our children. Tottenham is still reeling from last August’s riots; the community wants to rally round the recovery – the academy agenda is a distraction.