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Roke Primary School protestors take their fight to Whitehall


ANGRY parents marched on the Education Secretary's offices on Wednesday with a clear message: "Hands off our school."

About 15 parents from Roke Primary in Kenley joined a National Union of Teachers march against Michael Gove, walking in protest from Victoria Station to the Department for Education near Westminster.

They handed in a petition urging the Government to rethink its plans for the school to be run by Harris Federation as an academy.

Angeline Hind, whose six-year-old son attends the school, said the petition had 2,311 signatures, about 30 per cent local and the rest from supporters and anti-academy campaigners around the country.

She said: "We feel like this has been completely railroaded in and the wishes of governors ignored."

The Government's plans to turn the school into a sponsored academy were triggered by a damning Ofsted report last summer.

It chose Harris as the preferred sponsor, despite a desire expressed within the school for the role to go to nearby Riddlesdown Collegiate, with which it works closely.

A consultation on the plans is still open and Harris bosses insisted during public meetings last week that the deal was far from done.

Ms Hind added: "I personally feel it should not be an academy and the problems that were raised with Ofsted are being rectified and should continue to be rectified with the help of Riddlesdown.

"I am against privatisation and I am not sure a businessman is best placed to educate our children."

Becky Carrier, whose eight-year-old daughter attends the school, said: "The school is being called a failing school when quite clearly it is not. It is more about parent choice at this stage.

"When a child is four you can choose what school your child goes to and when he or she is ten you can choose again.

"It seems to be that once your child is there you do not have any say in what happens to that school."

The petition comes a week after parents said they had raised enough money to instruct a lawyer to look at challenging the government.

As well as disputing the grounds for the change and the choice of sponsor, they say there have been problems with the consultation.

Lord Harris and other Harris Federation bosses met with parents last week to discuss how they would run the school.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said it wanted to "help under-performing schools to improve".

She added: "We cannot just stand by if a school is failing children – we need to step in and make changes quickly.

"Ofsted gave the school a notice to improve last year.

"Discussions are ongoing with the school and the local authority. Ministers will carefully consider all responses to the consultation, which is well under way, before making a final decision.

"The Harris Federation is our preferred sponsor for Roke Primary. Harris has extensive experience of turning around previously under-performing schools in London, nine of which have now been judged as outstanding by Ofsted."

Roke Primary School protestors take their fight to Whitehall

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