Parents have been forced to drop their legal action against a Catholic body over the “forced” academisation of a primary school.

Families with children attending Our Lady of Lourdes primary school in Wanstead had applied to the High Court for a judicial review against Brentwood Diocese.

The diocese oversees the administration of all Catholic schools in the area and wants to move the primary school, and others, away from any local authority input and turn it into an independent academy.

But now, parents say they have been “priced out” of any legal action against the Catholic body and they cannot continue to fight the proposals.

A representative of the parents said: “The feeling amongst the campaign group is that we don’t need to proceed further and waste thousands of pounds doing so.

“No one ever wanted to take legal action but when you are consistently met with silence and delay tactics to force through the academisation what do you do?

“Parents deserve a voice and that voice to be heard. When you start the school you hear a lot about the triangle of support that is home, school and church. But sadly it seems to have been forgotten. I hope both the school and diocese learn from this because it is our children’s lives they are playing with. And they can’t speak out for themselves.”

Cllr Paul Donovan, who represents Wanstead Village ward, said: “It is a great shame that the parents have been forced to go to these lengths in order to get a proper consultation out of the diocese. This has still not happened, with the school seemingly marching onto academisation, come what may.

“It is a great credit to the parents that they have fought so long and hard for the well being of their children and the school. They have been treated very poorly by the diocese. Bishop Alan Williams and the Brentwood Diocese seem determined to plough on regardless with academisation.”

The councillor reiterated Redbridge Council’s stance to fight academisation “wherever it rears its head” in the borough.

He said the council has tried to communicate the fact that it is better for schools to remain in partnership with local authorities to the diocese, but that this advice has not been heeded.

He added: “This advice has clearly fallen on deaf ears. I just hope that the Diocese realise that once it heads off on the academy route, that the structures and support, so excellently provided by the local authority, will no longer be there – they are on their own.

“Our Lady of Lourdes school has an excellent reputation for the education it has provided within the embrace of the local authority. The question asked before remains unanswered, namely, if it isn’t broken, why change it?”

Rob Simpson, education director of Brentwood Diocese, said that establishing a multi-academy trust for Catholic schools will have its own benefits.

He said the move is about "local groups of schools supporting each other with a common ethos and values" as well as supporting and improving career development, recruitment and other conditions for staff.

He added: "There will be no change to staff pay and conditions. All of our schools will continue to have governing bodies that are responsible for maintaining high standards and protecting the distinctiveness of each of our schools.

"We place an emphasis on ensuring that there is both parental and staff involvement in the governance of the schools. We wish to maintain a positive working relationship with each Local Authority and for our schools to work collaboratively with Catholic as well as other local schools.”