PARENTS' hopes of defeating plans to incorporate their children's school into the Harris Federation have been dashed, with the academy chain poised to seal the deal.
Following talks last week, the Department for Education (DfE) and Harris will thrash out a budget for running Roke Primary within the next two months, the Advertiser understands, after which the planned transformation will be "set in stone".
Meanwhile parents of the Kenley school's pupils will receive brochures, a questionnaire and invitation to one of three meetings as part of a "consultation process".
However, an appeal remains lodged with the DfE from the school's governing body, and a petition with about 300 signatures has been raised protesting that Harris is being "forced" on families against their will.
A school source said: "This thing is more information rather than a consultation. The parents are not going to stand a chance unless the DfE changes its mind about Harris. Once the budget is signed that's it, it's set in stone."
Becky Carrier, 31, who launched the Save Roke campaign, said the group will continue to protest due to their belief that Roke would be better off in the hands of Riddlesdown Collegiate, whose work with the primary led to an upbeat Ofsted report last month.
Becky, whose daughter attends Roke, said: "We still feel as if we are being told rather than being consulted. They might ask us what colour uniform we want or things like that, but they are not asking us if we want Harris or not, which is the crucial question, because a lot of people don't.
"We're not a failing school, we had one bad Ofsted report and now that's changed."
The Ofsted report following last month's inspection found that, since a damning report last summer, the quality of teaching has now "improved steadily", the school is making "satisfactory" progress in addressing the issues for improvement, and that teachers are starting to provide greater challenges for pupils.
Croydon South MP Richard Ottaway said the improvements showed Riddlesdown should be made the sponsor for Roke instead of Harris. He has written to Education Secretary Michael Gove calling for the DfE to reverse its Harris preference, and has vowed to continue lobbying Mr Gove.
He said: "My position on Roke remains the same. In my view, an outstanding local school that has already forged close links with its primary feeder should be allowed to be its sponsor. That is why I am supporting Riddlesdown."
At the meeting between the DfE, Harris and Roke's governing body last week, it was revealed the budget is to be agreed within two months, which is when Harris's running Roke from September will become official.
A DfE spokesman had not responded by the time the Advertiser went to press.