Judicial Review for school forced to become an academy

Janet Downs's picture
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.

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Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 11/08/2012 - 22:18

Thanks for letting us know.

Good luck to them.

Tim Ottevanger's picture
Wed, 15/08/2012 - 17:59

Very sorry to read that the application for judicial review failed. Smarmy Gove will be gloating/

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 15/08/2012 - 21:06

Thanks for letting us know about that too Tim. Do you have a link to a reference for the information?

Tim Ottevanger's picture
Wed, 15/08/2012 - 21:19

see today's (Wednesday's) BBC News website


Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 15/08/2012 - 22:06

Thanks Tim.

Of course Downhills had an abysmal record of performance. It was in special measures. How could they argue otherwise?

It's very useful that Michael Gove has an inspectorate that does precisely what it's told and is accountable only to him isn't it?
Might they be able to appeal on the grounds that the judge's perception of the school had been created at the direction of Michael Gove?
But of course Tribal are a company who behave to the highest professional standards of integrity aren't they? They wouldn't suddenly fire people who work for them who are openly critical of Michael Gove with out warning, right of explanation or appeal. Would they? If it would help if I provided the evidence that they would despite the person in question having an impeccable work record then please do just let me know.

One of our local schools is in special measures in equally dubious circumstances. Interestingly Ricky posted some very negative things about the school which were clearly untrue or at best ignorant and naive the day after Michael Gove visited the department widely thought to be responsible for stitching the school up. Why on earth did Ricky feel sufficiently confident to express these views? It's 'interesting' to watch all the best staff being suspended or otherwise removed and then systematically discredited. How many times have I seen this before?

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