Barking and Dagenham NUT report: The NUT welcomes the news that the Secretary of State has withdrawn his appeal against the High Court’s ruling in respect of the academisation of The Warren comprehensive school in Chadwell Heath, Romford. This is a significant development and the first legal brake that has been applied to the DfE’s undemocratic forced academy agenda.
Commenting on this development, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said
“The NUT trusts and hopes that the Secretary of State now allows this school, and others in a similar situation, to have the time, space and support it needs to move forward. This case should not go back to the High Court. Instead, the Secretary of State should allow the school to continue its programme of improvement.
“We congratulate Barking and Dagenham Council and the school governors for taking this challenge. Schools that find themselves in difficulty need the support, collaboration and expert advice available within their local authority and local family of schools; not to be bullied and coerced into becoming part of an academy chain against the wishes of their school community.
“It is high time the Secretary of State ended this divisive forced academy programme and redirected the resources of his Department into supporting all schools instead of promoting a failed academies policy for which there is no evidential base.”
On 16 January 2014 Barking and Dagenham Local Authority and the governing body of Warren School were granted a High Court injunction against the Secretary of State’s imposition of an Academy Order on The Warren and the replacement of its governing body with an interim executive board (IEB). The landmark case represented the first time that an Academy Order had been successfully challenged through the courts.
The injunction granted by Mr Justice Collins meant that the IEB and Academy Order imposed by the Secretary of State on 6 January could not proceed until there had been meaningful consultation on the school’s alternative school improvement strategy, involving plans for a Hard Federation with neighbouring Robert Clack School. In his ruling, the Judge said “this decision should never have been made” and noted that Michael Gove had failed to make any arguments against the council’s alternative proposal. The Judge added that the Secretary of State “thinks academies are the cat’s whiskers – but we know some of them are not”.