Birmingham & Black Country

Parents at Birmingham primary school object to academy plan

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Image caption About 60 people, including parents and teachers, manned a picket line outside the school earlier

Staff and teachers at a Birmingham primary school have protested against plans to turn it into an academy, taking it outside the control of the local education authority.

But why are they so against the proposal?

Imran Hussein has two children at Montgomery Primary School, in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham.

It is one of many across England that Education Secretary Michael Gove wants to become an academy.

But Mr Hussein does not believe this will improve his children's school.

He, and many other parents, claim there has been a lack of consultation and that academy status is being "imposed" by the government.

Teachers are also against the change to an academy and earlier on Wednesday went on strike in opposition.

"Even if a sponsor throws millions into the school, it will not in itself improve standards," Mr Hussein said.

Another parent, Mohammed Ashraf, said he was concerned parents "would have less say in how the school is run and how money is spent" if Montgomery gains academy status.

Ofsted criticism

Mr Ashraf and fellow parent Javed Kahn pointed to the nearby Conway primary as an example of how a school could be turned around without becoming an academy.

In March 2010 Conway primary, also in Sparkbrook, was criticised by Ofsted.

A year later, after a "hard federation" partnership with the nearby "outstanding" Greet primary, Conway achieved a "good" rating.

Inspectors praised the school's significant improvement, particularly in literacy and numeracy.

At Montgomery, Mr Kahn and Mr Hussein said the responsibility for improvement fell ultimately to the school's leadership team.

Montgomery primary is one of 200 schools across the country that the government claim are performing poorly. They are being told to leave local authority control.

The Department for Education says the move will improve standards.

More control

"Academies have already turned around hundreds of struggling secondary schools across the country and are improving their results at twice the national average rate," it said.

But critics say there is little evidence to suggest the same approach will work in primary schools and it is not the only way of improving standards.

Academies, launched by the last Labour government and extended by the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, encourage schools to work with external sponsors.

Earlier this month Barclays Bank announced it would spend £1m on groups wanting to set up academies or free schools.

Compared with state schools, academies have more control over finances, their curriculum and other areas such as term dates.

They also do not need to follow national agreements over pay and conditions for teachers.

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