Teachers threatening to strike over Wembley school’s academy plans

Preston Manor School is considering controversial status

Teaching unions have expressed their concerns and warned of a series of strikes after another school in the borough announced it is considering applying for academy status.

Preston Manor Foundation School in Carlton Avenue East, Wembley, one of the borough’s most popular schools, has joined Kingsbury High School and Claremont High School by contemplating the change.

The move is often met with controversy as funding is transferred from the local authority’s education budget to the school in question.

Previous guidance has suggested that this may amount to as much as �900,000.

In addition, control of education is removed from the local authority and placed in the hands of central government. Jean Roberts, secretary of the Brent branch of the National Union of Teachers, warned of the dangers of a potential conversion.

She said: “Ultimately schools will be answerable to Michael Gove [Secretary of State for Education].

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“In a local authority we can elect councillors and governors in the best interests of schools.”

Previously teaching unions held strike action at Kingsbury High School in Princes Avenue after calls for an independent ballot for parents were ignored and Mrs Roberts warned that similar action could be undertaken at Preston Manor.

She said: “We have written to the chair of governors at the school to see if we can meet and come to a reasonable arrangement.”

The union will ask for an independent ballot and that any agreement is binding

She added: “If this is not granted we will look to perform a set of rolling strikes.”

Matthew Lantos, Preston Manor headteacher, head teacher at Preston Manor said there was a dramatically changing educational landscape and schools needed to consider their future but added that school governors had not yet expressed an interest.

He added: “This is an opportunity for schools to work in a collaborative way and to support each other in the interests of all our students.”

He also said that an option for the school would be to convert to Co-operative Academy model, however Mrs Roberts refuted this.

She said: “I don’t think its right that the funding could be placed at the hands of an organisation that might not know the business of running a school.”