Concern at 'parents having no voice' over academy plan for school

Bradford West MP George Galloway with his wife Putri Gayatri Pertiwi, in front of the Houses of Parliament before being sworn in as an MP later today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 16, 2012. Respect's George Galloway returned to

Bradford West MP George Galloway with his wife Putri Gayatri Pertiwi, in front of the Houses of Parliament before being sworn in as an MP later today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 16, 2012. Respect's George Galloway returned to

First published in News

The headteacher of a Bradford primary school says she understands why parents are upset that the school will likely be turned into an academy.

Springwood Community Primary School, in Manningham, is currently in special measures after Ofsted inspectors deemed it "inadequate" last year, and the Department for Education wants it to become an academy by January.

The Dixons Academy chain has expressed an interest in taking it over, and although a consultation in September will ask parents if Dixons is the preferred academy chain, parents and staff would not get a say on if it becomes an academy.

A parents' group has been formed in response to the change and it argues the school has already improved since its last Ofsted inspection. Terri Leighton, who became headteacher earlier this year, said it was unlikely the school could avoid becoming an academy, no matter how hard staff tried to improve it. She said: "When you are in special measures it is extremely difficult to overturn the call to become an academy, even if a new headteacher comes in.

"When it comes to academisation, parents are not given a voice, so I can understand why parents are so angry and frustrated. In one way the government says schools have to work with communities but then on issues like this they don't give them a voice. I have taken advice, and unless the school is capable of moving to a good rating in six months, then challenging the DfE is not going to be successful."

She hopes to meet with the parents group later this week.

Meanwhile, Bradford West MP George Galloway has lent his support to parents, writing to Education Secretary Michael Gove.

In his letter Mr Galloway (Respect) said: "The school has been improving under its current head teacher and with the enthusiastic support of many parents.

"These parents do not want to see the school converted into an academy against their will and clearly firmly believe that all necessary improvements can be secured under it current administrative arrangements and under the leadership of its current head teacher.

"The fact is that while some schools have improved after becoming academies, that is by no means always the case. There is no guarantee therefore that converting Springwood to an academy would bring about beneficial effects.

"But more than that, forcing a school to become an academy when both parents and teachers don’t want this change and can show that the school is improving without such a change, is a denial of their democratic rights."

The DfE has insisted that academy status is the best way for failing schools to enjoy "quick and sustainable" improvement.

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