Governors fighting academy status sacked

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The governing body of a school that has been fighting academy status has been sacked and replaced, the Department for Education confirmed.

Governors at Downhills Primary School in Haringey, north London, have been replaced by an “interim executive board”.

Last month Downhills’ headteacher Leslie Church resigned after the school was placed in special measures, after being judged inadequate by an Ofsted inspection ordered by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

The Department for Education said the school, last placed in special measures in 2002, had struggled to obtain the required standards for years and the independent inspection was necessary.

But the school previously claimed Mr Gove was illegally attempting to force academy status on Downhills and that attainment records and an interim Ofsted report last September suggested standards were improving.

Confirming Mr Church’s resignation last month, the school’s governing body said its members intended to stay in place while decisions were made about its future.

But yesterday a spokesman for the Department for Education (DfE) confirmed it has appointed an interim executive board “to give the school the leadership and expertise it needs to improve”.

The move is the fourth time the Coalition has used direct powers to remove a governing body.

Earlsheaton Technology College’s Interim Executive Board was appointed by the Department for Education in October last year after the old governing body was removed, and the powers have also been used for a secondary school in Wolverhampton, and a primary school, Nightingale Primary, also in Haringey.

The DfE spokesman said: “Downhills has been underperforming for several years and Ofsted has now found that the school requires special measures.

“They have found the school is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and that those responsible for leading, managing and governing the school do not have the capacity to secure the necessary improvement.

“We have therefore decided to appoint an interim executive board to give the school the leadership and expertise it needs to improve.

“Those connected with the school will then be consulted on whether the school should convert into a sponsored Academy under the leadership of the Harris Federation. Harris are our preferred sponsor for Downhills.”

The spokesman added: “We think the strong external challenge and support from an Academy sponsor is the best way to improve schools that are consistently underperforming.”