Parents at a primary school have slammed its governing body and accused them of “going behind our backs” after controversial academisation plans were sprung on them from out of the blue.

Handsworth Primary School in Highams Park sent an email to parents on Friday (June 22) offering them the chance to take part in a four-week consultation.

Pupils gathered with their parents outside the school in Handsworth Avenue on Friday morning (June 29) holding handmade signs and chanting, to protest the move.

More than 500 people have signed an online petition opposing the academisation of the two-from entry school which was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in May.

Beatrice Stern, whose daughter attends the school’s nursery, said she was “bowled over” when she received the news and is calling for the immediate halting of the consultation.

Mrs Stern said: “It’s not good enough. We want to be able to respond within a reasonable amount of time - not with just four weeks to go.

“My initial concern was the way it’s being pushed through – as if they are trying to sneak it through.

“Our key demands are for the process to be stopped and restarted so there’s plenty of time for us to have our say.

“We also want teachers to have a secret ballot asking if they agree with the plans and another ballot for the parents.

“And we want meetings with parents to be held in the evenings when they are not at work.

“It’s one of the most important decisions you make as a parent and we have chosen a good school. Why fix something that’s not broken?”

If the plans are given the go-ahead, the school would be run by REAch2 Academy Trust, the largest primary school academy trust in the country.

The Department for Education announced in March 2016 that all schools should become academies - or be in the process of becoming one - by 2020.

A recent study by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) found that there is little difference between academies and schools run by local authorities when it comes to children’s performance.

Nicola Depeza, whose daughter is in Year 4 at Handsworth, said: “My child was at an academy a few years ago and it was the worst experience that she has ever had.

“She was on the waiting list for Handsworth and when they called me to say they had a place I felt like all my prayers had been answered.

“Since she came here her grades have improved and she is happy.”

Nikki Hogan, whose nine-year-old son Cillian Murphy attends the school, added: “He came home from school on Monday feeling very sad and he said ‘they are going to take our school away’.

“We are worried about our children’s futures and we want to save our school.”

Jo Murphy was joined by her daughter, who is in Year 5, at Friday morning’s protest where she handed out leaflets to fellow parents to whip up additional support for the campaign.

Mrs Murphy, whose two older children previously attended Handsworth, said: “The way this is being done means we have been kept in the dark.

“I’ve always felt the communication has been good so I was really shocked when I heard about this.

“We want to have enough time to ask other schools which have been turned into academies, how has this affected the children.

“I’ve heard horror stories from parents whose children are at academies and the last thing I want is for our children to be walking, talking time bombs of stress.”

Linda Taaffe, secretary of Waltham Forest Trades Council, has backed the parents and offered to fight the plans with them all the way.

She said: “This is a case in which they (the school) are being particularly sneaky because they’ve gone behind the backs of parents.

“I’m pretty confident that the action by teachers and the action by parents together will see off this greedy privatising education company.”

Katie Lindenberg, assistant division secretary of Waltham Forest National Education Union, met with parents at the protest on Friday to reassure them.

She said: “There’s a strong, dedicated group of teachers at Handsworth who are really concerned that there’s a process happening without any consultation with them or with the parents.

“The NEU believes that this is privatisation of public schools and there’s no evidence that suggests that academies are any better than local authority schools.”

Handsworth Primary School and REAch2 have been contacted for comment.