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Decision delayed on Dollis Hill school set to become academy

PUBLISHED: 17:32 13 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:32 13 February 2013

Parents, staff and pupils protest outside Gladstone Park School.

Parents, staff and pupils protest outside Gladstone Park School.

Jonathan Goldberg

Government officials “revewing representations” from the school.

Parents and staff at a Dollis Hill primary school on the brink of being forced into becoming an academy have welcomed an apparent stall from education bosses.

Parents, staff at governors at Gladstone Park School, have been told they would be forced to convert to the conservative government’s Academy status - but government officials have announed they are considering representations from the school before making a final decision on a sponsor.

Schools which convert to acadmies become directly funded by central government and have private sponsors placed with them.

Gladstone Park, in Sherrick Green Road, was supposed to be informed of a sponsor on Monday February 11 – however, no announcement has been made so far.

Education secretary Michael Gove previously announced he wanted all “failing” schools to become academies.

However, parents claim that The Department for Education’s (DfE) own guidance states that forced academisation should only occur where a school has underperformed for some time and where problems are not tackled.

They say that due to Gladstone Park only receiving one poor Ofsted report in December 2012 it should not apply to them.

The school, despite fairing well in the recent primary school league tables, was identified as having “serious weaknesses” following the inspection- a new level of grading which was created alongside “special measures” to identify schools that needed to improve.

However, parents and staff say this was only down to a slight decline in pupils’ achievements in the middle years and have said the new grading system is a cynical move to enable the government to force more and schools to convert to academies.

“We know that we are not alone in resisting the forcible academisation of our school,” said Maria Bache, 40, who has two children at the school.

She added: “We stand united with at least two other London schools - Roke Primary School in Croydon and Thomas Gamuel Primary School in Walthamstow – in publicising the unfair treatment we are being subjected to by the DfE.”

A spokesman for the DfE told the Times no decision had been taken yet on a sponsor.

He added: “We are currently considering Ofsted’s report and representations from the school before making any final decision on whether Gladstone Park will become a sponsored academy.

“In the vast majority of cases we have worked in partnership with schools wanting to transfer to academy status. However, where underperformance is not being tackled effectively, the Secretary of State does have powers to intervene to make sure standards improve.”

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