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Parents demand vote on Ilford primary school academisation decision

PUBLISHED: 11:45 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:56 13 February 2018

Parents protest outside Highlands Primary School fearing that it may become an academy . Photo: Tom Lauder

Parents protest outside Highlands Primary School fearing that it may become an academy . Photo: Tom Lauder

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Ilford parents are protesting as a primary school weighs up the decision of whether to become an academy.

Parents protest outside Highlands Primary School fearing that it may become an academy . Photo: Tom LauderParents protest outside Highlands Primary School fearing that it may become an academy . Photo: Tom Lauder

More than 60 parents gathered outside Highlands Primary School, in Highlands Gardens, as the school’s last governing body meeting took place on February 6.

The group – Stop Highlands Primary School Academisation - demand that the school should hold a ballot among parents on becoming an academy as well as a public debate on any academisation plans.

“We are against academisation of the primary school, but we are aware that some parents will be in favour of it,” said the group’s spokesman Tom Lauder.

“That is why we are asking the school to hold a ballot to find out how the majority of parents feel. We suspect most will be in opposition.”

“We also want that debate so that the school can be challenged in what they are saying.”

“It could be in a Question Time format so that people of opposing views can give their argument.”

Protestors waved self-made placards with messages including “keep Highlands in our community” and “we love our school as it is.”

Highlands Primary School is currently under the control of Redbridge local authority.

As an Academy, the school would become independent of the local authority and receive its funding directly from the Department of Education.

Minutes from the school’s governing board meeting in March last year show the school was approached to be part of non-profit organisation Achievement for All’s (AFA) academisation programme.

It states that “the school wishes to create a model with AFA that suit the needs of the school.”

The group have launched a petition in opposition to this, gaining around 1,100 signatures.

Explaining the opposition to academisation, Tom said: “In Redbridge the education department is really supportive of schools generally and particularly at primary.”

“Elaine Norman is really engaged in making opportunities available to primary and secondary schools.”

Dr Kulvarn Atwal, Head Learning Leader Highlands Primary School, said: “We have a responsibility as a school to appraise all future options to enable us to continue to provide the best possible learning experience for our children.

“No decision has been made and we plan to take as long as we need to make the best decision.”

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