Anger as parents’ wishes overruled in forced academy conversion of Dagenham school
PUBLISHED: 17:30 19 February 2014
Parents, residents and councillors have been left shocked by the government’s decision to turn a primary school into an academy, despite 84 per cent voting against plans.
A report on the consultation over the academisation of Dorothy Barley Junior School, Ivinghoe Road, Dagenham, revealed 143 of 170 completed questionnaires were not in favour.
Only 15pc supported REAch2 becoming the sponsor. But in a letter dated February 6, Lord Nash, Under Secretary of State for Schools, wrote to staff stating the intention to proceed, writing: “The academy will open on April 1, 2014, or as soon as possible thereafter.”
Dominic Byrne, Barking and Dagenham NUT division secretary, said the decision confirmed his fears that the consultation process had been a “sham”.
“The decision shows the academy programme has nothing to do with parental choice and everything to do with the ideological preferences of the government for schools to operate like businesses,” he said.
Cllr John White, cabinet member for children’s services, called the decision “an effort to bully the local authority into what is in effect a hidden agenda”.
Amanda Mulqueen, 47, of Ilchester Road, has a son in Year 4 and a daughter in Year 5.
She said: “Nobody has listened to our views. The school didn’t want to become and academy, neither did the parents.
“It’s disgraceful and I’m angry as a parent. We’ve been treated diabolically.”
Samantha Rose, 39, of Rugby Road, has two children at the school.
She said: “It’s disgusting considering so many voted against. What’s the point in asking us if Michael Gove [Education Secretary] has made the decision already?
“I went to every consultation meeting but I wish I hadn’t now. It’s been a farce.”
Andrew Spearman, chairman of the school’s interim executive board (IEB), which published the consultation report, said: “The views of those responding to the consultation were of course important to the IEB.
“However, this is only one of the issues and relevant factors [Lord Nash] must consider.”
During the consultation stage, which ran from November to December last year, parents made their feelings known by protesting outside the school.
A judge last month granted an injunction stopping the academy order imposed on The Warren School, Chadwell Heath.
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