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Roke parents hold anti-academy protest outside Harris Federation offices


ROKE Primary School parents ramped up the pressure on Tuesday afternoon with a rally outside the proposed academy sponsor's headquarters in central Croydon.

More than 30 parents and children demonstrated outside the Harris Federation's offices in Norfolk House, Wellesley Road, against the Government's plans for their Kenley school.

Supported by representatives from the local branch of the National Union of Teachers and the Anti-Academies Alliance, protesters brandished banners with messages including "Our results are good" and "Parents have no voice".

A formal consultation on the Government's plans, which were triggered by a bad Ofsted report last year, is due to close on March 28.

Joanna Hearn, from Kenley, who has two sons aged three and five at Roke, said: "We hope that they will listen because they claim that there is a consultation, so if there is we hope they will understand the strength of our feelings."

The 38-year-old added: "I do not believe that our school is failing, and Harris claims to be a charity so they should put their resources where they are most needed.

"We would like them to go to a failing school and do good there."

No one from Harris came out to address the crowd, but protester Becky Carrier was allowed inside the building, where she handed over posters.

Harris representatives – including founder Lord Harris of Peckham, chief executive Sir Daniel Moynihan, and head of primary education Sir Robin Bosher – have held open meetings with parents to discuss how they would run the school.

Protester Jane Manning, whose six-year-old daughter attends Roke, echoed other parents' comments that the school does not need rescuing.

The 45-year-old said: "[My daughter] had been to another school [Beulah Junior], and since a year of her coming to Roke she has been well above that level.

"She has been getting ten-letter-word spellings – gymnastics, for example. I think she has got a good teacher and had a good teacher last year.

"I will be panicking if it becomes an academy – I reckon they would bring in all their own teachers and get rid of the ones that they have got.

"There are plenty of schools out there that need their [Harris'] help."

Holly Lloyd, aged eight, who is in Year 4 at Roke, said she worried Harris would "change some of the great things about the school".

She added: "They are going to change the uniform and the logo and I don't see what is wrong with them."

Her mum Claire Lloyd said she was worried her autistic son Jack, 4, would get less special educational support under Harris.

But Sir Robin Bosher has said special educational needs provision would not be changed as long as it was effective.

He told one parent at a public meeting: "If it is effective and your little boy is making the best progress he can then, that will stay just as it is."

The campaigners have also instructed a lawyer to look at challenging the Government's plans in the courts.

The Department for Education told the Advertiser last week it wanted to "help under-performing schools to improve".

It would "carefully consider" consultation responses, a spokesman added.

Roke parents hold anti-academy protest outside Harris Federation offices

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