Parents urged to speak out to stop Sinfin Community School becoming academy
PARENTS of pupils at a city secondary school have been urged to act swiftly to stop it becoming an academy.
The message was given to more than 50 people who attended a meeting called by two major teaching unions at Sinfin Community School last night.
The National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers rarely stand on the same platform on issues.
But their joint concern also led them to take strike action on two consecutive days before Christmas and they have not ruled out further strikes if necessary.
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The school, which failed a Government inspection almost 12 months ago and was placed in special measures, was targeted by the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove as a potential academy to raise standards.
Three months ago, he ordered an interim executive board to take over and sacked the existing governing body – only the fifth time he has used his power to do that.
Since then, the executive board has been consulting on the proposal to turn the school into a sponsored academy under the total control of the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust, based in Nottingham.
Two parents' meetings have taken place – one on Tuesday evening – and two open information sessions earlier in January.
Dave Wilkinson, branch secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "Academy conversion was first threatened four years ago under the then Labour Government.
"But it was successfully defeated by a joint effort from parents and the local community coming together to express their opposition.
"Both the voices of parents and the people of Sinfin are crucial if the school is to remain in their control."
Mr Wilkinson urged people at the meeting to vote on special forms for the school to stay in council control before the deadline next Monday.
People at last night's meeting expressed concern that no opportunity had been given for them to hear a joint presentation from those for the academy and those against it at any time.
One parent said: "I think people are very confused about the situation. One night there is a meeting by the Greenwood Dale Trust and the next night the unions hold a meeting. I would like to hear both sides of the argument on the same night."
Sue Arguile, branch secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It's a great shame that the unions were not able to speak formally at the parents' meetings.
"The school should stay as it is for now while an informed debate over its future takes place. Once it is an academy it cannot be reversed.