Cross-party backing for school academy ballot

REPRESENTATIVES of all three political parties on Sheffield City Council are calling for a ballot to be held before any decision to turn a leading secondary school into an academy.

Labour, Lib Dem and Green councillors representing wards in the catchment area of King Ecgbert’s at Dore are urging caution.

In a joint letter, they say: “Many of our constituents would be affected by conversion to academy status. We believe their views should be taken into account and therefore call on the chair of governors and the headteacher to ballot parents of children currently attending the school or in the top class (Y6) of all feeder primary schools before any decision is taken.

“The ballot must be accompanied by literature setting out balanced arguments for and against conversion to academy status.”

The letter is signed by Labour councillors Qurban Hussain and Mohammad Maroof, Liberal Democrats Ali Qadar, Joe Otten and Colin Ross and Greens Jillian Creasy and Rob Murphy, who between them represent Central, Nether Edge and Dore and Totley wards.

School governors are set to vote on the proposals on January 17.

Supporters point to the financial advantages of academy status, at a time when the school is facing a 25% cut to its sixth-form funding. They say consultations have been held with parents and the wider community.

But some parents have formed a protest group, calling for a full ballot of parents at the secondary and its feeder primaries.