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Protest held outside Dollis Hill school against academy conversion plans

PUBLISHED: 17:15 08 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:57 08 February 2013

Parents, staff and pupils protest outside Gladstone Park School.

Parents, staff and pupils protest outside Gladstone Park School.

Jonathan Goldberg

Parents and staff speak out about proposal for Gladstone Park Primary School in Sherrick Green Road

Parents and staff at a primary school have staged a protest outside the school gates in protest to the government’s decision to force academy status on them.

Staff at Gladstone Park Primary School in Sherrick Green Road, Dollis Hill, say a forced conversion is not in the best interest of the school and have vowed to fight against it.

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

However, critics claim it is a form of privatisation and believe schools should be locally run.

A petition has been set-up against the plans which has been signed by parents and staff.

“We do not feel that forced academy status is justified as we have been given no time to rectify the issues raised by Ofsted.” it says.

Under strict new government rules any school that is considered as “failing” will be forced to convert to an Academy.

Despite fairing well in the recent primary school league tables an Ofsted report in December identified the school as having “serious weaknesses”- a new level of grading which was created alongside “special measures” to identify schools that needed to improve.

However, parents and staff claim 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.

The petition adds: “We are committed to raising standards in the school and we believe the disruption caused by changing the status of our school will hamper our efforts to move our school forward.”

Mother of two Ellen Howard, 34, said: “This is a good and well loved school - we refuse to lie down and be bullied into becoming an academy by Michael Gove and his cronies. It’s unwanted - and it’s unjust”.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We cannot just stand by when a school is judged inadequate – we need to make changes quickly. Academy status with the support of a strong sponsor is the best way of securing rapid and sustained improvement in schools like Gladstone Park.

“Academies have already turned around hundreds of struggling schools.”

A sponsor for the school is expected to be announced on Monday.

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