How we won the fight against academisation…

Speaking to the Anti Academies Alliance Steering Group meeting on 11 October, Natasha Steel, one of the lead campaigners in HOHPS, articulates how we won the fight to stop Hove Park becoming an academy  She offers some excellent top tips to others fighting similar battles – stand together and don’t give up!

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Check out Guardian Letters today – 2 October


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Here we are – headline news…

The Independent

ITV Meridian News:

Latest TV:

The Brighton & Hove Independent:

The Argus:

The Morning Star:

BBC Radio Sussex:

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Dear Parents and Carers,

The Governors have tonight unanimously decided, after a long and exhaustive consultation process, that Hove Park School will not convert to an academy.

We want to thank the students, parents and carers for their passionate contribution to this debate.  We also want to thank the staff and senior team for their professionalism and dedication to the school throughout this consultation.

Hove Park is a dynamic and improving school. We are excited about its future and we want to build on the community engagement that we have inspired during the consultation.

Mike Nicholls, Chair of Governors

Statement from HOHPS


Statement from Hands Off Hove Park School campaign group:  

“The parents, carers and members of the community that make up Hands Off Hove Park School are delighted and thrilled that the governors have ultimately made the right decision and voted no to academy status.  This is an excellent result for the whole of this school community but also for all schools across Brighton & Hove.

Mr Trimmer and the Governing Body have clearly recognised that the reality of academies is that they weaken governance and accountability and offer nothing in terms of raising standards or improving the educational environment for children, parents, teachers and communities.

When the proposal to become an academy was first made in March a lot of people thought it was a done deal. We have to thank all the students, parents, teachers, city council, trade unions and other community members that kept faith with our campaign.

Together we have made banners, written letters, composed songs, tweeted, posted, marched, rallied, lobbied, laughed, performed, donated, banged wheelie bins and stood at the school gates night after night to ensure this conversion didn’t take place.At times it has taken over our lives but it has brought us together as a loud and strong collective voice. It has demonstrated that Hove Park has a fantastic community who clearly care about the school and the education of all children in the community, regardless of background or ability. 

We hope other parents across the country involved in similar battles against the deregulation of state education will draw encouragement and hope from our campaign. We hope that people will take similar action where the public services they cherish and depend on are threatened. It’s been hard work but it’s been a lot of fun.

As a vibrant and active parent group, we can now look forward to directing our energy into supporting the school to ensure it continues on an upwards trajectory, helping tobuild on the improvements that have already been made in the last few years for the benefit of current Hove Park students  and generations to come.”



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Dear  Hove Park School, Governing Body,

As we are sure you are all too aware, a major decision on the future of Hove Park School is in your hands tomorrow (22/9/14). As a group of parents, carers, grandparents, students and other community members, we trust you, as our representatives, to reach the best decision for the school.

We hope you will acknowledge the strength of feeling in the community you are serving, which can be measured in terms of the results of the parent ballot and recent governor elections. We hope you recognise that if this energy is embraced, it can be used positively for the good of the whole school.

Alternatively, a vote for academy status will be opening the door to further disruption of Hove Park students’ education and more disaffection amongst parents, teachers and students, who will quite rightly feel that they have not been listened to. The unions for teaching and non-teaching staff have already indicated that further strikes are likely and parents will carry on their campaign, which is now attracting national press interest with broadsheet coverage likely.

We understand that a number of good teachers have already left the school because they don’t want to work in an academy and we understand that some new-intake parents have already opted for schools that are not seeking conversion and not enrolled their children at HPS as a result. Clearly the impact of this uncertainty is already making its mark on the school.

We trust that you, like us, have done your homework on what academy conversion would mean for students, teachers and the community both now and in the long term – because as legislation stands, this is an irreversible decision. We also trust that you, like us, have watched closely as individual case studies across the country begin to feed into an emerging national picture of  how deregulation of state schools is impacting directly on communities. Government policy on this will inevitably continue to shift as we move towards the  2015 General Election over the next few months.

We very much hope that like us you have reached the conclusion that there is neither a financial nor educational imperative for conversion to academy status. It is neither the best option for this school nor the chosen option of the people that matter – the students, teachers and parents/carers.

A ‘no’ vote for academy status will demonstrate that the governing body listens to and cares about the views of people in the school community. It will win over huge support and that can only be in the best interest of us all.

Yours sincerely

on behalf of  Hands Off Hove Park School

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Brighton & Hove Independent says Hands Off Hove Park School!

Check out the great coverage in today’s Brighton & Hove Indy, including front page headline, Mark Steel comment and the Independent view of the editor….



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Lobby governors to drop academy plan

Join our campaign and help lobby Hove Park School governors to drop the academy plan. One meeting takes place on Monday 15th September, with the final decision on the academy expected on Monday 22nd September.

Please meet at the school gates with banners, badges, but mainly yourselves – Nevill Campus, Nevill Road – 5.45pm – and LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!

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HANDS OFF NEWS: 1 September 2014, Issue 4



When parents of students at Hove Park School first heard of the plans to turn it into an academy way back in April, 160 of them attended a public meeting, at which they voted unanimously against the proposals.

Then in May, Brighton & Hove City Council passed a motion to oppose academies in principle and throughout the summer term, students and parents voiced their opposition in a variety of imaginative ways.

July kicked off with a great turnout to a good-natured HOHPS March against the proposals through Hove (even the local police sent a message commenting on the congenial nature of the protest). This was followed by a fantastic Stand-Up comedy show and rally with Mark Steel, Shappi Khorsandi, Caroline Lucas and others in Hove Park.

Things came to a head just as the summer term was drawing to a close…   On July 15, the parent ballot, organised by the local authority, in which nearly 600 families voted, returned a result of 71% in opposition to the academisation of the school. The following day the school closed because of a strike by teachers, who are overwhelmingly opposed to these proposals and later that same day three anti-academy candidates standing as parent governors were elected to the Governing Body in a landslide victory – sending  yet another very clear message to the school leaders.

Given the story so far,  parents and carers campaigning with Hands Off Hove Park School call upon the governors to listen  and hear  the messages from the community they are meant to represent and  just say no to academy status so all concerned can  look forward to this school year with their focus clearly on education and learning.




Recent GCSE results saw HPS dip by just 3% in the amount of students gaining A*-C grades at GCSE level. 62% of HPS students achieved this impressive result this summer (65% in 2013) at a time of sweeping government changes to the exam system and when other schools saw dips of as much as 13%.   This is a great result for the whole school community, especially the students,  teachers, staff and school leaders who have all worked hard to get to this point, but also the parents and carers who  obviously care enormously about the school  and continue to take an active and positive interest in it.  All this, alongside the radical admissions system which is finally bedding in, have had a part to play in the HPS successes so far.

Hove Park School is on a winning trajectory, with local authority accountability and strong local support, which is why we like our school the way it is – a local, community, comprehensive state school – not an academy with a business ethos!  Let’s ensure it stays on this trajectory by focusing on what is working to improve the school for the whole of the local community without the risks and distractions of academy status, where the eye will inevitably be taken off the ball.

We all want our school to become an outstanding local school – so, come on governors, ditch the academy plans and let’s truly work together in doing all we can to ensure the school achieves the best possible outcomes and results for all those who attend it now and in the future.


  • WRITE TO THE GOVERNORS: Despite the clearly demonstrated opposition to academisation,  HPS  Governors can still press ahead with academy status. It is important we continue to let them know that this is our school and we like it the way it is. Please write to the school and the governors to insist they listen to the community they are meant to represent. You can write to them via the clerk at: or
  • LOBBY MEETINGS: The Governing Body will meeting on Monday 15 September to consider all the information submitted as part of the consultation and will make a decision at the full Governing Body meeting on Monday 22 September.  Check for up to date information about lobbying these meetings and making sure our voices continue to be heard.
  • DISTRIBUTE POSTERS: New posters and badges are available this week – email us on for details of how you can get hold of some and look out for a smaller A4 poster in The Leader for you to display on a work notice-board, local shop or your house window. The A4 poster is also attached here so you can share it via social media.


ROBB JOHNSON LIVE: Robb Johnson, our resident protest singer/songwriter, is doing a gig for the Brighton & Hove Green Party on 12 September at Hanover Community Centre. Full details can be found here:

Get down there if you can.

Got a story for Hands Off News?   Email:

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Check out our new poster and share on social media…


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Letter to The Argus: We don’t want academy

Well, well, now we know, thanks to The Argus Saturday Soapbox (August 16), that Brighton & Hove District Labour Party favour academisation at Hove Park School and stand with the local Tory party on the issue – so much so that they write a joint statement.

The statement is as we have come to expect from the pro-academy camp largely hot air. However the one thing that sticks in my throat is when they state the school should now be allowed an ‘even handed debate’.

This is not something the school offered parents in the pitiful ‘consultation process’.

What the authors do is sow seeds in the illusion that the democratic outburst which followed the announcement to register interest in academy status, proved a distortion rather than to open the school up to scrutiny.

The scrutiny has largely been led by the Hands Off Hove Park School campaign which has achieved much in four months. There was a 2,000 strong e-petition and it pushed the school to hold a parental ballot which showed 71% against academisation.

The campaign also observed that the governing body at Hove Park had three governors sitting who had exceeded their tenure.

In the resultant governor election three anti-academy governors were elected. Oh! and by the way the teachers at the school went on strike against the idea of an academy.

The leadership of the school are not bound by any of this and can still plough ahead but with the school driven to a crossroads without a sponsor do the leadership at Hove Park have the wisdom to step back?

We’ll find out following the governing body vote on September 22. Most know what they should do.

Mark Drayton, Molesworth Street, Hove

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