On the morning of Tuesday 15th July, ‘Hove Park not Gove Park’ badges became collectors’ items when Michael Gove lost the confidence of Dave Cameron and was demoted from Secretary of State for Education. On Tuesday afternoon, Brighton & Hove City Council announced the result of a ballot of Hove Park School parents. More than 1,500 parents had the vote and on a turnout higher than for local elections fewer than 160 voted to convert the school to an academy with more than 70% of those voting being clearly against conversion.
The next morning, the school was closed as teachers, represented by the NUT at the school, took strike action as part of their opposition to conversion to an academy. Teachers, parents and supporters gathered at the school’s gates as motorists, many of them local parents, shouted and waved support as they drove past. A member of the school support staff showed his solidarity by delivering red roses to teachers on the picket line and trade union delegations from schools and colleges across the city, and beyond, sent emails of support or arrived with their banners to join the protest.
That afternoon, the results of elections for parent governors were announced. Elections that had to be fought for after the Governing Body and Head seemed willing to try and push their academy proposal through a Governing Body with three parent governor vacancies – one since 2013. Parents had nine candidates from which to choose and ‘No to Hove Park Academy’ campaigners topped the poll with all three places going to anti academy parents.
Democracy has spoken: the vast majority of NUT members are opposed to conversion; only 10% of the school’s parents support the proposal to convert and parents have elected three parent governors who are resolutely opposed to converting the school to an academy.
As one Hove Park parent said: Combined with Mr Cameron’s decision to move Michael Gove out of the Department for Education, it feels like a shift is taking place around the unpopular and discredited academy programme.
It’s now time for the Hove Park Governors to listen to their staff and parents: No to Hove Park Academy.