Downhills Primary School to become an academy

A recent report found Downhills Primary in Tottenham to be failing

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A north London school which has been fighting conversion to academy status has been told it will become a sponsored academy in September.

The Department for Education (DfE) said Michael Gove made the decision about Downhills Primary having considered its "chronic underperformance".

A campaigner from Save Downhills said the group was "desperately upset".

The primary school in Haringey had been placed in special measures in February following an Ofsted report.

The academy will be run by the Harris Federation, an educational charity.

On Tuesday, a number of teachers at the school - who are members of the National Union of Teachers - went on strike for the second time over the plans.

People's voices 'ignored'

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

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

On the decision over the academy status, a DfE spokesperson said Mr Gove had "carefully considered the Interim Executive Board's report and the consultation responses".

"He also took into account the chronic underperformance at Downhills and Ofsted's report in January which found that the school was failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and that those responsible for leading, managing and governing the school were not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement," he said.

"The IEB's report states that radical structural solutions are needed to deliver and sustain rapid improvement at the school and it is confident that the Harris Federation will be able to deliver such solutions.

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.

"The Secretary of State has therefore decided that to deliver the improvement needed, the school should be converted to a sponsored Academy under the leadership of the Harris Federation. The new Academy will open in September.

"Harris, a not-for profit educational charity, will give the school the leadership and expertise it needs to improve. Harris has turned around a number of previously failing schools in London, nine of which have now been judged as outstanding."

Sarah Williams, the mother of a pupil and a part of the Save Downhills campaign said: "We are desperately upset about it (the decision). I feel just sick that they have ignored the people's voices in Tottenham.

"Absolutely nobody locally wanted this to happen. All the stakeholders - parents, teachers, the council, local school heads, local MP David Lammy, nobody wanted this.

"We need people to listen on how to make the outcomes better and not to be bullied."

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