Dawn Butler MP vows to fight government plans to convert all schools in Brent into academies

Dawn Butler MP speaking to parents against the forced academisation of St Andrew and St Francis CofE

Dawn Butler MP speaking to parents against the forced academisation of St Andrew and St Francis CofE Primary School. - Credit: Archant

Brent Central’s MP has vowed to lead a fight back against government-led forced academisation as two primary schools convert next week.

Oakington Manor School is in Wembley (pic credit: Google)

Oakington Manor School is in Wembley (pic credit: Google) - Credit: Archant

Dawn Butler MP was informed last week by Nicky Morgan, the secretary state for education, that Oakington Manor Primary School in Wembley, and Furness Primary School in Harlesden, will become academies when term starts on Monday.

The two schools have joined to form a multi-academy trust, share an executive headteacher and are voluntarily converting on Monday having held consultations with parents but new rules will give other schools no choice.

The government announced plans in the budget that all state schools must become academies by 2020 or have plans to do so by 2022.

It means schools are funded directly by the central government and independent of the local authority.

Furness Road School is in Harlesden (pic credit: Google)

Furness Road School is in Harlesden (pic credit: Google) - Credit: Archant

Ms Butler raised concerns in a letter to Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council and Carolyn Downs, chief executive, asking for support against good local schools being thrown into “utter chaos” by the changes.

She said: “There is little substantive evidence to show that turning a school into an academy will automatically raise standards.

“I want us in Brent to lead a fight back and bring schools back in to local authority control. I will fight the government and ask for money to make this happen. It is important that our schools work together.”

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All of Brent’s secondary schools have converted but not its primary schools.

However, the forced academisation of St Andrews and St Francis CofE primary in Willesden, led to four strikes last April with staff, parents and union chiefs opposed to the change.

Ten primary school governors have signed a statement arguing there is no evidence that academies will improve the quality of teaching and learning, they will remove local democratic accountability of schools through the local authority and will further destabilise schools already affected by new curriculum and assessment demands and problems of recruitment and retention.

Martin Francis, chair of governors at Chalkhill Primary School and a statement signatory, said: “Oakington and Furness have joined together as a multi-academy trust. The NUT opposed the academy and so did some Furness parents but they have gone ahead anyway. I think they felt they could better run things themselves but we want to keep a democratic accountability.”

Cllr Ruth Moher, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The most important thing for parents is that their children have a high quality learning experience. This is not guaranteed by academy status and there are many advantages of local democratic accountability for schools.

“It is important to remember that the national proposals to turn all schools into academies cannot be implemented without further legislation. This will take some time and may be opposed.

“In the meantime, the council will continue our mutually respectful and supportive partnership with all local schools.”