Head of academy row school quits after failed inspection

Downhill primary Downhills' governors have asked the secretary of state for a meeting to discuss the school's future

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The head teacher of a school at the centre of a row over attempts to make it become an academy has quit after the school was put in special measures.

Governors of Downhills Primary School in Haringey, north London, have said they will not challenge the result of a recent Ofsted inspection.

Education Secretary Michael Gove wanted the school to become an academy because he said the school was failing pupils.

But parents and supporters of the school campaigned against the plan.

In a statement, the governors said they had "reluctantly" accepted Leslie Church's resignation.

"Leslie is tremendously popular with parents, staff and children and retains the full support of the governing body. We wish him every success for the future," said the statement.

Local reports said pupils said a tearful goodbye to the resigning head, Leslie Church, as he left the school on Friday afternoon.

The governors, who do not intend to stand down, said they would be writing to Mr Gove to arrange a meeting to discuss the future of the school.

They say they were disappointed with the outcome of the inspection, but want to "engage in a constructive dialogue over any proposed changes to the administration of the school".

They added: "It remains our position that any restructuring of the school should not be imposed from above unless and until there has been a full consultation with parents, staff and the local community."

A mentor headteacher from an outstanding school will be appointed to assist the interim headteacher.

Protest meeting

Mr Gove had asked Ofsted to carry out the latest inspection after parents protested against his plans to make the school an academy.

Downhills is part of a group of "underperforming" schools which the government wants to become academies.

The school, which is more than 100 years old, last came out of special measures in 2005 but in January 2010 was told by Ofsted that "significant improvement" was needed.

Start Quote

We can't just stand by and do nothing when schools are sub-standard year after year”

End Quote Department of Education

The Department for Education (DfE) said the inspection would "provide an independent assessment of the school's position".

Downhills has become a focus for protests against the expansion in academies - with campaigners arguing against plans to remove the school from local authority control and to turn it into an academy run by another sponsor.

Hundreds of parents and supporters attended a protest meeting last month at the school in Tottenham, including local MP and former pupil David Lammy.

But the education department has argued that it has a responsibility to intervene if standards are not good enough - and has stuck to proposals to force under achieving primary schools to become academies.

Campaigners had also threatened legal action to prevent the forced conversion of the school.

The education secretary in turn had accused opponents of academies as being "happy with failure".

A spokeswoman for DfE said: "We have been clear that we consider academy status to be the best way to improve schools that are consistently under performing.

"Academies have already turned around hundreds of struggling secondary schools across the country and are improving their results at twice the national average rate.

"We can't just stand by and do nothing when schools are sub-standard year after year."

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