Education & Family

Academy protest primary school to be re-inspected

Downhills Primary School
Image caption Downhills Primary School in Haringey will now be given another inspection

The education secretary has asked Ofsted to carry out another inspection of Downhills Primary School in Haringey - where parents have protested against plans to make the school an academy.

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

But protesters have said the north London school is already improving.

The Department for Education says the inspection "will provide an independent assessment of the school's position".

The deadline for the governing body to accept plans to become an academy has now been lifted, until the outcome of the inspection.

School governor Roger Sahota said this represented a "victory" for the local campaign against becoming an academy - and he accused the education department of a "bullying" approach to becoming an academy.

Protest meeting

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 week 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 underachieving primary schools to become academies.

Campaigners at the school have disputed that the school is now underperforming after improvements were made following an Ofsted inspection last year, which judged that the school required significant improvement.

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

Education Secretary Michael Gove in turn had accused opponents of academies as being "happy with failure".

But Mr Gove has now ordered Ofsted to carry out a fresh inspection, while defending the principle of creating more academies.

"Given the importance placed on a further Ofsted inspection by the governors at Downhills, the secretary of state has asked Ofsted to undertake an inspection," said a statement from the Department for Education.

"This will provide an independent assessment of the school's position.

"We can't just stand by and do nothing when schools are sub-standard year after year. Academies are proven to work. They have turned around dozens of struggling inner city secondary schools across London and are improving their results at twice the national average rate."

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