Teachers at a Kingsbury school vote against becoming an academy

Teaching unions claim Claremont High School’s head has told staff he plans to push ahead with plans to become an academy. despite losing a ballot

Controversial proposals to turn a popular secondary school into an academy have encountered a major setback after union members voted overwhelmingly against the plans.

The ballot comes amid accusations from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) that Claremont High School’s headteacher told staff that he planned to push ahead with the plans despite the vote.

The NUT also claims Mr Molloy told staff that up to 20 employees could be made redundant if the school does not change its status.

Seventy per cent of staff at the school, in Claremont Avenue, Kingsbury, voted against turning the secondary into an academy – which would free the school from local authority control, and give it greater autonomy over its curriculum and pay.

Terry Molloy, headteacher at the oversubscribed secondary where three quarters of GCSE pupils achieved five A* to C grades last year, announced his plans to apply for academy status last June after the Education Secretary Michael Gove wrote to every school in the country urging them to do so.

At the time, Mr Molloy said the invitation was an ‘attractive prospect’ because it gave schools greater flexibility and teaching and more money – academies receive around ten per cent more Government funding.

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Hank Roberts, Brent branch secretary of the NUT, said the outcome showed the ‘strength of feeling’, and warned that all three main teaching unions had agreed to ballot their members on industrial action if the school pursued academy status.

He also alleged that union representatives have been prevented from visiting the school and speaking to staff and parents openly about their concerns.

He said: “More than 70 per cent of staff are against the plans, that is a pretty large indication of what the staff think.

“We want him to take note of this vote and out the brakes on this application. He needs to consult parents properly because if the parents and staff are against the application then what is he saying?”

Critics of academies say they create a two tier education system in which academies can select the best teachers and students.

However, Mr Molloy has said that he has no intentions to change Claremont’s admissions criteria.

A Claremont High School spokeswoman said teachers were warned of staff cuts because the Claremont, like other schools, is facing funding cuts.

She added:“The school’s governors will take account of all information gathered from the lengthy and broad consultation process and including the staff ballot, and senior staff are having in face-to-face meetings with parents. However, it is the governors who will make the final decision.

Teaching unions were due to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the ballot as the Times went to press last night.