PARENTS and teachers opposing government demands for their school to be incorporated into the Harris Federation's academy empire have been given a ray of hope following an upbeat Ofsted report.
Roke Primary School's teachers and parents were angered this month after being told by the Department for Education (DfE) its request to become part of Riddlesdown Collegiate was being refused.
However, a fresh report released by Ofsted this week after a recent inspection outlines a number of improvements since damning findings were reported on last summer.
Becky Carrier, 31, who launched the Save Roke campaign, said she hopes the DfE will now allow the school, which her eight-year-old daughter attends, to be sponsored by Riddlesdown.
She said: "It is still early days but we are headed in the right direction.
"From this new Ofsted report, it proves changes have been made and we are moving in the right direction.
"We want this to be dropped completely or if they are still intent on us becoming an academy, let us be part of Riddlesdown, as this proves the partnership we set up with Riddlesdown after the bad report last year is working.
"This should be as much about what the parents want as much as what the DfE want. We don't want our school interfered with any further, and we want Riddlesdown rather than Harris."
The latest Ofsted report issued found that:
In 2012, the proportion of pupils making expected progress in both English and maths exceeded the national average
The quality of teaching has improved steadily
Teachers are starting to provide greater challenges for pupils, including those who are more able
Much work had taken place in making more effective use of information on pupils' academic performance and measuring the performance of groups of pupils
The school is making satisfactory progress in addressing the issues for improvement and in raising the pupils' achievement
Recent legislative changes mean education secretary Michael Gove can impose conversion to academy status on schools that are underperforming.
Caroline Phillips, Roke's head teacher, hailed the recent improvements while expressing "determination" to carry on working with Riddlesdown.
She said: "This report tells us we are on the right track and recognises the hard work of staff and pupils.
"I can give a guarantee that we shall maintain our focus on further improvement, for the benefit of our whole community, and we look forward to continuing to work with Mr Smith, principal of Riddlesdown Collegiate, through to the end of the academic year.!
A DfE spokesman would not comment on whether Harris is still the department's "preferred" sponsor, but said: "We want to help under-performing schools to improve. Ofsted gave the school a notice to improve last year.
"We have now received the report from their latest monitoring visit and we'll take into account Ofsted's findings and judgment, any representations from the school and all other relevant information, when considering the way forward for Roke."