School could be forced to become academy 'even if governors reject proposals' (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Snaresbrook Primary School could be forced to become academy 'even if governors reject proposals'
A primary school could be forced to become an academy even if governors reject the proposals, it is claimed.
Parents at Snaresbrook Primary, in Meadow Walk, South Woodford, have launched a campaign against the move after the Department for Education (DfE) wrote to the school raising the prospect of "academisation" last week.
The letter came in the wake of a damning Ofsted report in July.
But families say the proposals are unnecessary because a new headteacher has since been employed who has already dramatically turned around the school's fortunes.
Around 150 parents, MP John Cryer, and campaigners from the NUT and Anti-Academies Alliance held a protest outside the school yesterday while governors met with a DfE representative to discuss the plans and find out further information.
When the Guardian asked the DfE for clarity about the "academisation" process, a spokesman said in a statement yesterday that parents would be consulted before any changes "if governors decide to pursue becoming a sponsored academy".
But governors were reportedly told in the meeting, which was not open to the public, that the DfE could still push through academy conversion even if they voted to reject them.
Governor and councillor Chris Cummins said: "Technically it could happen, but if the governors do vote against we will have to present a strong case explaining why and they have to listen to that.
"What the governing body wants to do next is have a meeting with parents to discuss the case for and against and to get a feel for what the parents views are.
"My own feeling is that I don't think we should be forced into it if we don't want it."
Cllr Cummins said a consultation meeting with parents could include a ballot and would likely be held in the next few weeks.
An informal poll by campaigners at the school gates reportedly found that 89 per cent of of 188 parents and carers were against the proposals.
Campaigner Claudia Martin, 39, who has a daughter in year two, criticised the process as "extraordinarily undemocratic" and said the government could remove the entire governing body if it rejected the proposals.
She said: "It was for that reason that we protested last night - to have our voices heard before it was too late.
"The DfE is only interested in filling their quota of academies - they don't care about the needs of our school or the wellbeing of our children."
Government policy is that schools judged to be inadequate should normally be converted to academies sponsored by other schools or education groups, meaning that they break away from local council control and, in theory, improve as a result.
But critics argue there is no evidence for this and that it is a way for the government to increase the level of private sector involvement in the nation's education system.
The DfE said no decision had been taken.
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