Lewisham Council has criticised a local school’s plans to adopt academy status as “excessive and detrimental” to other schools in the area.
Although parents have waged a lengthy campaign against changing the school into an academy, the Council had previously declined to comment on the proposal regarding Tidemill Primary School in Deptford.
But as the day of decision looms, Frankie Sulke, Executive Director for Children and Young People, has now criticised the community consultation held to explain the proposal to local residents.
In a letter to the school’s Chair of Governors, Ms Sulke said it was unclear how academy status would significantly improve Tidemill or help support other schools in the area, and that the consultation document did not clearly state how the change of status would make any difference.
Ms Sulke said in the letter: ”The consultation document for parents and carers issued by the school contains a number of inaccuracies which may indicate a lack of understanding about the responsibilities that you would take on if you were an academy.”
She expressed concern over claims made that Tidemill “Would be able to generate income through renting out the premises”, as the school’s planned relocation to the Deptford Lounge would mean it can only rent out its “own rooms and facilities” within the shared property.
The project is led by Mark Elms, headteacher at Tidemill and highest paid teacher in the country, who ran the community consultation which has already attracted criticism from local residents.
Leila Galloway, a mother of two pupils at Tidemill and the leader of the “Deptford Says No” campaign against the introduction of academy schools, said: “It is uplifting to finally see the council’s views, for them to echo our concerns is a small victory.
“It clearly spells out all the extra responsibilities that the governors will have if they become an academy, as well as appealing to the governors’ social conscience. At least they will make a decision with their eyes wide open.”
While the letter makes clear the Council does not outright oppose the change to academy status, Ms Sulke remains unconvinced of its benefits for Lewisham schoolchildren.
The letter stated: “When considering whether to develop or support a proposal for educational change, Lewisham always takes into account whether it will benefit other Lewisham children, or conversely, be at their expense.”
The final decision regarding the future of Tidemill Primary School will be made by the full board of governors in the first week of December.
To read the letter in full visit: http://sayingno.org/cms/2010/11/19/1274/
UPDATE Tuesday, November 30
Joan Ruddock MP has criticised Tidemill Primary School’s plans to become an academy, only a few days before the final decision is made by the board of governors this Thursday.
“Having now considered all the arguments I have concluded that conversion to an academy would pose very real risks for the school itself and cannot be in the interests of the wider community,” wrote Mrs Ruddock to constituent, as reported in News Shopper.
Lewisham’s Labour Councillors have also rejected the project. In a letter to the school’s Chair of Governors and speaking on behalf of Lewisham Labour Group, Councillor Alan Hall said: “As a Group we are very concerned that the proposal will be detrimental to both Tidemill School and the wider communities of Deptford and Lewisham.”
They have joined the group of parents opposing Tidemill’s plans under the ‘Deptford Says No’ campaign, which was previously supported by Lewisham Council.The campaigners are planning to hold a candlelit vigil during the decision on Thursday evening at the school.Radio 4’s ‘The Report’ will feature the campaign as part of a discussion about the drive for academies on Thursday between 20.00 – 20.30.