As you may have heard, we’ve had a shocking and distressing couple of days at Downhills School. Our Interim Head and Chair of Governors were both called before 8am yesterday morning and informed that the school’s democratically elected and accountable governing body was sacked forthwith and an Interim Executive Board now in place. Nobody from this IEB has ever visited the school. The Secretary of State, Michael Gove, also issued an Academy Order to force Downhills School to become a sponsored academy with Harris as the named preferred sponsor.
The make-up of the IEB is concerning. The Chair is Les Walton who runs the Young People’s Learning Agency, which funds academies and provides the main assets for companies like HCTC Enterprises, a subsidiary of the Harris Federation. Also on the board are Dan Moynihan, Chief Executive of the Harris Federation, and Robin Bosher, Primary Director of the Harris Federation. Part of their role is to ‘secure the future of the school’ by consulting with parents and the wider community about conversion to academy status. Given that 3 Harris employees have been appointed to the IEB and the Secretary of State has already named Harris as the preferred sponsor, we’re not convinced that any ‘consultation’ will be particularly impartial.
With this in mind, the (now-ex) governing body started a consultation whilst still in post, and the results were counted today. 147 parents voted against academy status, 14 for and 5 didn’t know. This ballot was conducted after the Ofsted inspection results were made public and after Leslie Church had resigned. Even in these difficult circumstances, approx 90% of parents who voted are against the school becoming an academy.
Harris himself has donated millions of pounds to the Tory party over the years. The Harris academies which have been successful were those set up as new schools under the last Labour government, with millions of pounds thrown at them. This is very different to converting an existing community school – against the wishes of stakeholders – with no extra funding available.
Even with very short notice, about 15 parents gathered outside the school yesterday morning, wearing t-shirts and carrying placards and tried to speak with Dame Sylvia Morris – another board member – as she entered. Dame Sylvia Morris declined to speak with parents.
haringeyindependent.co.uk/ news/topstories/9592486. Protesting_parents__disgusted_ _with_Downhills_governors__ removal/
Many people have asked how they can help. Well, we should all continue to lobby our elected representatives like Councillors and MPs to resist the DfE’s attempts to coerce other schools into becoming sponsored academies. We continue to write to the Secretary of State, asking him to explain why sponsored academy status is being forced upon schools when it is no guarantee of school improvement – you may be more fortunate than us in receiving a response from him! Very importantly, it’s essential to let as many people as possible know what is happening to schools around the country. The forced privatisation of schools wasn’t in any party’s Manifesto at the last election and the Government’s agenda is clearly to rush this through as quickly as possible.
Thanks so much for your ongoing support.
The Save Downhills Campaign
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