Staff vow to fight academy plans at failing Dagenham primary school

Dorothy Barley Junior School is facing a takeover by a for-profit educational corporation, which has

Dorothy Barley Junior School is facing a takeover by a for-profit educational corporation, which has been opposed to by staff. - Credit: Archant

Teachers at a failing Dagenham primary school are vowing to fight government plans to convert it into a for-profit academy.

Consultations are under way to decide whether Dorothy Barley Junior School should be taken over by private-sector educational organisation REAch2 and granted academy status.

The school was placed into special measures in December 2012 – for the third time in eight years – after an Ofsted report said it was “failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education”.

A total of 36 staff members – teachers and other workers – voted unanimously to oppose the measures at a joint union meeting last Friday.

Parents have expressed mixed views on the matter so far. Two consultation evenings are planned in the coming weeks for others to have their say.

Jenny Garner, 29, of Colemans Road, said: “If it becomes an academy, I’m taking my child straight out of here. They had a terrible Osted report and this is just is the easy way out.”

Colleen Agbonavbore, 30, of Ilchester Road, said: “My nephew’s at an academy school and I’d really welcome the change. As long as the kids get what’s needed, little else matters, but if they had a vote, I’d definitely say yes.”

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Dominic Byrne, of the National Union of Teachers Barking and Dagenham branch, said: “We will not rest in our fight to keep Dorothy Barley Junior School part of our local family of schools. There is no evidence that academy status does anything to improve schools.”

The secretary of state issued an academy order last month, replacing the school’s governing body with an interim executive board (IEB).

A Barking and Dagenham Council spokesman said: “The order was imposed against the wishes of the governing body and the council, and both are opposed to the conversion of the school into an academy.”

Andrew Spearman, chairman of the IEB, said: “We’ve just launched a consultation into the future of the school.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Ofsted judges the school inadequate and we cannot stand by when a school continues to provide an unacceptable standard of education.”