The academisation of an Ilford primary school is being fiercely opposed by the council and education community in Redbridge.

William Torbitt school was rated inadequate by Ofsted on June 5, 2018 following safeguarding concerns.

Immediately after this, proposals to turn the school into an academy came from central government.

But councillors, teachers, parents and families are strongly against the move, saying the school has already started to turn things around with help from the community.

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young people, moved a motion at full council on Thursday night to show the authority’s full solidarity with those fighting the plans.

She said: “The forced academisation of William Torbitt is neither wanted nor needed to address the findings of Ofsted.

“The safeguarding issues are already being solved. Redbridge one of the highest educationally performing boroughs in London and we have showed time and again that we have the capacity to rapidly improve a school through swift action.

“Academisation is not an effective means of improving performance.

“As a local authority, we find ourselves in the ironic and totally unacceptable position of being called upon to save academies, but simultaneously not being trusted to address safeguarding issues at a council maintained school.”

The cabinet member added that “exceptional progress” has already been made at the school since the June 2018 inspection thanks to peer support from other schools and teachers and the dedicated work of the council’s schools improvement team.

She said: “We all know that academisation is driven by pure ideology and there is no evidence to suggest that academisation raises standards.”

The motion gained cross-party support from all councillors across the chamber.

Conservative councillor Stephen Adams, who represents Churchfields ward, opposed academisation.

He said: “I think the borough’s educational record is testament to the hard work of the council and the strong sense of community cohesion amongst schools in the borough.”

Other Labour councillors added that turning schools into academies can sometimes be “a disaster” with some proving to be “miserable failures”.

Conservative Cllr Michael Stark, however, questioned the claim that academisation is driven by ideology.

He said: “There is no proof either way that academisation either helps or hinders schools. It very much depends on the school.

“I find modern education far too bureaucratic and if schools need support in filling in relevant paperwork to pass Ofsted tests then that is what is really important.”

Cllr John Howard, cabinet for civic pride, himself once attended William Torbitt primary school.

He said: “It sounds like the school is well no the way to solving these issues with help from peers, staff and the community. The school doesn’t need a random company that is driven by profit to run it.

“Is the school failing? No. Is it past the point of no return? No.

“Hands off my school.”

Cllr Elaine Norman thanked the council for its support of the motion, which was passed with no votes against.

She added: “I am very grateful for the unanimous support to send a strong and unequivocal message to the Department of Education. Let’s hope that for once they will listen.”

The council will now write to the Government to oppose the plans to academise the school.