Protest group formed over academy move

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PARENTS have formed a protest group to campaign against a Sheffield secondary school becoming an academy.

Governors at King Ecgbert School at Dore are set to vote on the proposals on January 17 following a consultation process.

But the new group KES PLEAS – King Ecgbert School Parents for Local Education Authority Status – say the process is being rushed and the consultations are an undemocratic sham. They are calling for a full ballot of parents at the secondary and its feeder primaries.

Group chair Andrew James said: “We believe that a decision has already in effect been made by key members of the governing body.

“We have learned that the governors decided in June to register an interest with the Department for Education in converting to an academy, yet it was nearly five months later that so-called consultations began. We should ensure there is as much time as possible for an open and democratic debate – once made, the decision is in effect irreversible.”

Parent and group member Tony Tigwell said: “It is the policy of all three parties on the council that there sh ould be a ballot. We think that parents and staff should have a chance to vote.

“Converting to an academy and taking a school out of the Sheffield family of schools is such a big step, that parents should be given a chance to vote on it. As well as teaching democracy and citizenship, King Ecgbert School would do well to practise it.”

Headteacher Lesley Bowes said academy status would help the school maintain high academic standards and retain staff at a time when the school faces a 25% cut to sixth form funding.

“Our consultations have been described by one of the union convenors as a model of good practice and we have organised two meetings for parents, the second of which will take place on January 3,” she said.

“We have also met with members of the wider community, such as police, GPs, local councillors, social services and local authority partners. Another factor to bear in mind in that our governors are democratically elected and also represent the local community. Our second meeting with parents will be more informal, around tables in smaller groups in which some parents may find it easier to air their views.”