Legal bid over academy row Downhills Primary School

Downhills School is one of four in the borough considered to be failing

The parent of a pupil at a north London school has begun legal action over Education Secretary Michael Gove's decision to sack the governors.

Downhills Primary School governors were dismissed on 15 March. The Department for Education said the Haringey school had been "failing" its pupils.

It had been at the centre of a row over attempts to make it an academy.

Susan Moyse has sent a letter about her intent to seek judicial review to Mr Gove.

Start Quote

We're not the ideologues and we don't want our children used as guinea pigs in the forced academy experiment”

End Quote Susan Moyse Parent of a student

After the removal of the governors an interim executive board - chaired by Les Walton, the chairman of the Young People's Learning Agency which is the academies' funding body - was appointed.

In February the school's then head teacher Leslie Church resigned after Ofsted placed the school, which is more than 100 years old, in special measures.

The pre-action letter sent by Ms Moyse's solicitors to Mr Gove on 23 March claims that he acted unlawfully by sacking the governors and appointing an interim board.

The letter calls for the governors to be reinstated and asks the government to hold a "fair and lawful consultation" with parents, staff and the local community on whether the school should become an academy.

'Ridden roughshod'

Ms Moyse said: "This school was already rapidly improving as a community school.

"The parents recognise this and have voted overwhelmingly against academy status.

"We're not the ideologues and we don't want our children used as guinea pigs in the forced academy experiment."

Ms Moyse's solicitor, Beth Handley, of Hickman and Rose, said: "The Secretary of State has considerable powers under the laws surrounding Academy conversion, however there remain checks and balances in the system which the Secretary of State has ridden roughshod over."

A Department for Education statement said: "Downhills school has been underperforming for several years.

"Most recently Ofsted found that the school is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and that those responsible for leading, managing and governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement.

"That is why we have appointed an interim executive board to give the school the leadership and expertise it needs to improve. This board will consult on whether conversion should take place."

Mr Gove's office has until 6 April to respond to the letter.

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