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Department for Education lifts controversial academy order against Newbury Park primary school

PUBLISHED: 10:37 22 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:03 22 February 2019

A crowd gathers in protest of the forced academisation of William Torbitt Primary School outside Redbridge Town Hall, in High Road, ahead of a full council meeting on January 17, 2018.

A crowd gathers in protest of the forced academisation of William Torbitt Primary School outside Redbridge Town Hall, in High Road, ahead of a full council meeting on January 17, 2018.

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A Newbury Park primary school has had a controversial government order that would have forced it to convert to an academy lifted.

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting visited William Torbitt Primary School on Monday in support of protestors aiming to block its forced academisation. Photo: Wes StreetingIlford North MP Wes Streeting visited William Torbitt Primary School on Monday in support of protestors aiming to block its forced academisation. Photo: Wes Streeting

In December last year, William Torbitt Primary School in Eastern Avenue was informed that, following an Indadequate Ofsted inspection, the Department for Education (DfE) had issued an academisation order, forcing the local authority run school to be converted to a privately run academy.

The news sparked a wave of parent, staff, and political protests, and a petition against the move was signed by more than 1,400 people online.

Those protests got even louder earlier this month, when it was revealed that another Ofsted inspection had found a rapid improvement in the school’s educational offering and it received a Good grade.

Today, Ilford North MP Wes Streeting received an official reply from education secretary Damian Hinds,confirming that the academisation order issued to the school had been lifted.

Staff past and present and pupils celebrating the 80th anniversary of William Torbitt School. The distinctive 1930's Art Deco exteriorStaff past and present and pupils celebrating the 80th anniversary of William Torbitt School. The distinctive 1930's Art Deco exterior

A letter from the secretary of state for education said: “I am pleased to hear of the progress that has been made at the school, as reflected in the latest Ofsted report.

“I can confirm that the academy order for William Torbitt Academy has been revoked, persuant to section 5D of the Academies Act 2010.

“I look forward to seeing future progress at the school.”

Mr Streeting added: “This is great news for William Torbitt and a testament to the school’s leadership, staff and governors who’ve worked so hard to address the weaknesses identified by Ofsted, with the support of the local authority. 
“This is also a victory for people power and I’d like to say a big thank you to all the parents and staff who campaigned for this outcome with the support of the National Education Union and the GMB union. 
“Parents can have full confidence in the school and I’m relieved that the school can move forward with certainty about its future as part of the strong Redbridge family of schools within the local authority.

“I’ve been so impressed by the way they’ve risen to the challenge and want to wish them every success and my full support into an even brighter future.”

The Department for Education has also confirmed separately to the Recorder that the academy order against the school has now been lifted.

Cllr Elaine Norman, Redbridge Council’s cabinet member for children and young people said: “I’m delighted the government has listened to all of our concerns and lifted the academy order for William Torbitt Primary School.

“This is fantastic news and was only possible thanks to the brilliant effort from the school, students, teachers, parents and support from the council.

“Staff and students have worked tirelessly to make rapid improvements and it’s brilliant this has been recognised.

“We have a clear and unequivocal policy which opposes any school being forced to become an academy against the wishes of the parents, carers, staff and school community and I’m pleased the school will continue to have the support from the council and build on the fantastic progress to thrive and succeed for the benefit of the communities and children.”

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