Parents’ academy ballot over Dagenham primary school ‘irrelevant’

Parents protesting against the proposed academy conversion.

Parents protesting against the proposed academy conversion. - Credit: Archant

A senior executive overseeing the proposed academy-conversion of a Dagenham primary school suggests the council’s efforts to ballot parents over its future could be in vain.

The four official consultation meetings over the future of Dorothy Barley Junior School, Ivinghoe Road, were described as a “sham” by local NUT officials, arguing they were balanced in favour of proposed-sponsor REAch2.

But at an extra meeting held last Tuesday – not attended by REAch2 – plans were revealed to send out a referendum to every parent.

The official consultation period ends at midnight on Friday, but in a recent motion passed by the council, it was agreed that parents should be allowed a formal say.

Council leader Liam Smith said: “We feel that as in everything to do with children, their views and, most importantly, those of their parents and carers should be taken into consideration when determining outcomes, after all is this not the basis of Every Child Matters?

“We will be taking this issue up as we feel local people have a right to have their voices heard and that they should be consulted on issues that concern them.”

However the chairman of the school’s Interim Executive Board (IEB), Andrew Spearman, insists the council’s actions are unlikely to have any impact.

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He said: “Although any ballot conducted by the Council will not form part of the IEB’s statutory consultation, the views arising from it can be fed into the formal consultation by parents.”

NUT secretary for Barking and Dagenham, Dominic Byrne, who chaired last week’s meeting, was far from impressed.

“It’s shocking how they treat local democracy,” he said. “At national level people are quick to talk about localism and yet this is a clear example of people expressing their wishes in a democratic ballot, but they’re just going to ignore it.

“I feel the words ‘shambolic consultation’ are apt for the whole process.”

REAch2 have refused to comment on the issue.