Hundreds back Tottenham school campaign against academy

Downhills Primary School
Image caption Downhills Primary School was given 12 months to improve by Ofsted

Up to 400 people have gathered in north London to campaign against a school being "forced" to become an academy.

A governor of Downhills Primary in Tottenham said academy status was "not in the best interests of the pupils" and they would seek a judicial review.

The Department for Education (DfE) said academies "were proven to work".

The government wants England's 200 worst performing schools to become sponsored academies. Downhills Primary faces being converted in 2013.

The public meeting at the school comes after Education Secretary Michael Gove said last week that those opposing his academies programme were "happy with failure".

Haringey Council said the DfE had asked three other schools in the area to become academies. It added that the decision should be up to the school, governors and the parents.

'Grossly unfair'

Ofsted gave the school 12 months to improve its performance late last year.

Four out of 10 of the school's students at Key Stage 2 are failing to meet the government's standards for English and maths.

One of the school's governors, Roger Sahota, said the meeting on Monday night was "a resounding success" and he said everyone supported the resolution for Mr Gove, to come and visit the school and talk to parents and governors.

He added: "We don't think forcing Downhills to be an academy is in the best interests of the pupils."

Mr Sahota said the school sent a letter of intent to the DfE in December, saying they plan to seek a judicial review into the decision to convert it into an academy.

The government has until 19 January to respond to the letter.

David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham and a former pupil at the school, was present at the meeting. He is planning to raise the issue in the Commons later this week.

He said: "I think it's grossly unfair on this school, which sits in the heart of Tottenham, a place that has had riots and real problems over the summer, to experiment with these young people and not to recognise that this is a school beginning to move forward.

"This school has to get better, the headmaster knows that."

In a statement, the government said academies had turned around dozens of struggling inner city secondary schools across London and were improving their results at twice the national average rate.

"This is about rooting out underperformance and driving up standards, so that students reach their academic potential," it added.

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