‘Inappropriate activities’ prompt investigation into Ilford primary school parent governor elections

Parents protest outside Highlands Primary School in February fearing that it may become an academy.

Parents protest outside Highlands Primary School in February fearing that it may become an academy. - Credit: Archant

An independent investigation into the election of two parent governors at an Ilford primary school has been launched.

Redbridge Council and Highlands Primary School, in Highlands Gardens, jointly issued parents a letter informing them of their decision to suspend parent governor elections on March 22, recommending the school’s governing body launch an independent investigation.

It followed a letter sent to candidates on March 15, requesting that they cease “inappropriate activities” including pupils circulating election literature on behalf of candidates and canvassing on school premises and cross-nomination endorsements.

This decision to suspend the election results came days after Tom Lauder - spokesman for community group Hands off our Highlands (HOOH) - was announced as a winner of one of the two vacant governor positions on March 19, gaining 235 votes.

He said: “Parents have said to me what is the point of [the election].

“There is a feeling that it is being manipulated or played down in a way that ignores parents.

“There was no guidance given on whether we could campaign apart from the Nolan principles,” he added.

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The “seven principles of public life” set out by Lord Nolan consist of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

HOOH, which opposes academisation of the school, held a public debate on the topic at St Andrew’s Church in Ilford last night, Tuesday,April 24.

In February, it also staged a protest demanding that parents are balloted on any potential academisation plans.

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.

Commenting on the investigation, a council spokeswoman said: “At the end of the parent governor election process at Highlands Primary, some parents raised concerns about the conduct of that election.

“To ensure parental concerns were considered and addressed, the governing body were advised by the council to commission an independent investigation of the issues raised.

“We expect the investigation to be concluded in a matter of weeks, when the report will be considered by the governing body.