The Save Roke Primary School campaign in South London, which like Gladstone Park Primary faces being forced into becoming an academy has issued the following statement after today's news that Ofsted is to focus on schools in under-performing local authorities:
Ofsted’s move to make blanket inspections across under-performing areas is front page news today. This will catch out not only failing schools but those like our school – a popular, well-achieving primary – caught out by a temporary blip in performance. Roke primary has been forced to academy status, and alarmingly, handed to David Cameron’s personal friend, mentor and major Tory donor, Lord Harris of Harris Academies raising concerns about vested interests.
Roke parents are campaigning against rushed Academy takeover with an overwhelming majority against being coerced into forced academy. Roke Primary school has no consistent history of low standards, just one unsatisfactory Ofsted report. Despite strength of parent feeling, there is no DofE appeal procedure allowing the parents’ case to be heard. The speed at which the school has gone from being outstanding to being cast as a ‘failing’ school- in just 7 months – resulting in Roke being snatched from local authority control has taken parents by profound surprise. Many are left with questions about whether takeover has been unfairly fast tracked by the Government.
Roke parent Debbie Shaw comments, ‘We believe that this is a concerted government master plan to catch out not only low performing schools, but wavering schools just like ours who have a temporary blip in their results. This is clearly part of a larger government agenda.”
Roke father, Nigel Geary-Andrews said, “It is alarming that the government is rushing through forced academies on schools like Roke, where there is no proven record of failure over any length of time, without any consultation with parents at all and no way of appealing. This does not seem democratic or transparent to me”.
We would like reassurance from Mr Gove that his new targeted approach will allow schools such as ours time to show that we have turned around performance in a short space of time. As well as a voice for the parents through proper consultation - and the right to appeal.
An investigation in The Guardian 15/01/13 revealed that, ‘The government may be flouting its own education guidelines’. DofEofficial directions say poorly performing primaries should only be obliged to become sponsored academies ‘when a school has been underperforming for some time and if the problems are not being tackled’.
A shotgun Ofsted inspection was announced at Roke Primary on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after it was revealed in The Guardian that, ‘The government may be flouting its own education guidelines’. Parents are eagerly awaiting the results of the monitoring visit which they believe will show evidence of excellent improvement at the school.
There is disquiet among parents about the Government’s choice of sponsor. Roke is being handed over to the Harris Federation, run by millionaire Tory Lord and Carpetright businessman, Phillip Harris- who David Cameron has named as a personal friend who helped to prepare him for power. Lord Harris has donated in excess of £2 million pounds to the Tory party, as well as personal donations to David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson. He plays a key role in advising the government on failing schools and academy policy.
Parent, Janine Norris expressed concern at the close relationship between the Harris Federation and Government decision-makers, ‘It concerns me and many other Roke parents that the Government has not got the good grace to seek our views or explain the decision and we can’t help but wonder whether the fact that Lord Harris has donated substantial sums to the Tory party is a significant factor’.