By Luke James, Morning Star, 30th April, 2014
A former senior government education adviser rubbished claims yesterday used to justify turning a successful Brighton school into an academy.
Hove Park secondary will ditch its community status to join Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove’s reckless schools experiment under plans being pushed by its governors.
A school leaflet claimed there is a “moral imperative” to convert, promising parents that the school would be better funded as a result.
Governors have also claimed that they “would not be listened to” by the Department for Education if it remained a community school.
But retired civil servant Aidan Pettitt dismissed the claims as an attempt to stich-up the conclusions of any consultation.
He told the Star: “I think it’s an interpretation that has been made by the governing body because they want to make a case for academy conversion but can’t actually find any decent facts to make the case.
“I suspect they’ve got a consultant to write it.
“There are an awful lot of education consultants who will help schools convert to academy status, who say ‘these are the kind of things that you might want to put in your prospectus’.”
Mr Pettitt, who worked at the DfE for 14 years, said state schools and academies receive “identical funding” and dismissed the idea civil servants would not consult state schools.
Over 130 pupils staged a lunchtime demonstration when the plans first came to light earlier this month and many joined a meeting of parents and teachers yesterday evening.
They are calling for a genuine consultation over the plan to abandon steady progress made in recent years under local authority control.
Parent Natasha Steel, whose daughter Maddie Hodgson took part in the school protest, also raised concerns about the reasons given by governors in their recent leaflet.
“It doesn’t spell out the benefits for children and parents,” she said.
“Without showing how it might raise standards or benefit the children, it’s really hard to see why the school might go down this route.
“The school has made massive gains. Why do they want to turn it into an academy and destabilise that?”