Stories + Views
Judicial Review for school forced to become an academy
On Tuesday, 14 August, parents of pupils at Downhills School will be at the Royal Courts of Justice for the judicial review of the arbitrary decision by Michael Gove, Secretary of State, to convert the improving school into an academy with an imposed sponsor, the Harris Federation.
The Harris Federation is run by Lord Philip Harris, Chairman of the Carpetright chain, and major donator to the Conservative party. The Government defends its decision to dismiss Downhills’ properly-constituted governing body which included elected parent governors and inflict its own Interim Executive Board (IEB) which has no parental voice but includes two senior executives from Harris by saying “academies work”. But there is no evidence that academy status improves schools – even the Government admits there is no evidence that converter academies drive up standards. And Ofsted found that all types of schools could be good or outstanding – it wasn’t necessary to be an academy.
Downhills was improving when Ofsted visited in September 2011. The school’s Sats results had exceeded the Government benchmark. But Gove made an arbitrary decision to enforce conversion. He even persuaded Ofsted to revisit the school. This time Ofsted judged Downhills to be “failing” despite the inspection team being led by the same inspector who pronounced that the school was improving less than a term earlier. Such abrupt about-turns bring Ofsted into disrepute. Downhills was one of the primary schools chosen from across the country to have its art work displayed in the National Gallery – hardly something that would happen in a “failing” school.
On Tuesday, Downhills parents will be at the Royal Courts of Justice with their banner, “94% parents, staff & community say NO academy”. Supporters are welcome to join them.
Parents are seeking public donations to help fund their legal challenge. Details here.