Residents protest to save school from academy status

Woman protesting against academy status for Sedgehill. Pic: Alex Taylor.

Woman protesting against academy status for Sedgehill. Pic: Alex Taylor.

A crowd of more than 100 students, teachers and parents protested outside Lewisham town hall in Catford yesterday to oppose the council’s proposal to turn Sedgehill school into an academy.

The campaign to “Stop Academies In Lewisham” stepped up as petitions were handed to the council at 04:00pm.

Executive director for children and young people, Frankie Sulke, has come under criticism after Sedgehill school was described as “failing its students”.

Green party candidate for Lewisham West and Penge, Tom Chance, has described Sulke’s Academy proposals as “undemocratic” and urged the council to open up a dialogue with the school that saw record A-level results last summer .

April French, mother of a year seven student at the school, said: “We chose Sedgehill for its head, leadership and ethos. Lewisham council are trying to destroy that with their hostile takeover attempt. Due to the change in GCSEs, results dropped but so did many other school’s in the country. Lewisham is taking advantage of this despite Ofsted’s advice based on those results.”

She added: “The entire Sedgehill community is united behind [ headteacher] Ken MacKenzie, his team and the governing body.”

Sedgehill governors also face replacement by an interim board from Bethnal Green Academy, a decision which former deputy headteacher David Banks rejects.

The NUT’s Martin Powell-Davies has also been a continual voice of support for the #SaveSedgehill campaign, with a number of posts on his personal blog.

Powell-Davies said: “Lewisham Council are trying to impose their Academy plans on Sedgehill School, supposedly ‘for the good of the children’. But, if it’s young people that they really care about, then they should listen to what students have to say for themselves!”

Students were seen to be in high spirits, singing and chanting lines such as “Save Sedgehill” and “We Don’t Want Academies” during the protest.

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