Downhills Primary School teachers strike over academy plans

Downhill primary Downhills Primary School is in special measures

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Teachers at a north London school resisting academy status have gone on strike, closing it for the day.

The National Union of Teachers said 20 members were taking action over the proposal by the government to make Downhills Primary a sponsored academy.

The school in Haringey was placed in special measures in February after an Ofsted report ordered by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

The Department for Education (DfE) said Downhills has been under-performing.

The Ofsted report, ordered by Mr Gove, declared the school inadequate.

Governors sacked

The DfE said the school, which was last placed in special measures in 2002, had struggled to reach the required standards and has told Downhills it must become an academy.

Since the latest Ofsted inspection, the head teacher, Leslie Church, has resigned, and the board of governors has been dismissed by Mr Gove and replaced.

What are academy schools?

Semi-independent state schools that receive funding directly, rather than through a local authority. They have more freedom over areas such as pay and conditions and the curriculum.

A parent of a pupil at the school has begun legal action, challenging Mr Gove's decision to sack the original board.

The school has claimed Mr Gove is illegally attempting to force academy status on it and that attainment records from an interim Ofsted report last September suggested standards were improving.

The striking teachers and parents took part in a protest outside the school and they are due to attend an event in nearby Downhills Park later, where there will be entertainment including children's poetry workshops with former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen.

A spokesman for the union said: "The strike action being taken by NUT members is largely supported by the community and its purpose is to bring to the attention of the wider population in Haringey, the local authority and the government that this type of intervention has no place in the running of education."

A spokeswoman for the DfE said it was disappointed by the "damaging" strike, adding: "Downhills has been under-performing for several years.

"Most recently Ofsted found that it 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."

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