Thursday 29th May 2014 in The Argus
A ballot is being planned for parents to have their say over controversial plans to convert a school into an academy.
The decision on whether to voluntarily become an academy is taken by school governors and the school previously declined to hold a parental ballot as it is not legally obliged to.
Brighton and Hove Green councillors have stepped in and are calling for cross-party support for a council-run ballot of parents.
“It’s disappointing that the school won’t conduct their own ballot.
“However we always said that we would do all we can to make sure that parents have their say.
“We believe in consulting on big decisions such as these, especially when they are so controversial.
“I’m calling on the other parties to support our proposal for this ballot.
“Regardless of what the school decides to do, we will seek a good working relationship to try and ensure the best for children, staff and the community – as we have done with the city’s existing free schools and academies.”
Parent pressure group Hands Off Hove Park has been objecting to the plans and has gathered almost 1,700 signatures on a petition to keep the school under local authority control.
Councillors will discuss the proposal for a ballot on June 2.
Natasha Steel, who has two daughters at the school in year 10 and sixth form, has signed the petition.
She said: “I’m thrilled the council are backing us on this one and are looking to hold the ballot.
“The consultation process has just been awful – I’m totally appalled by the lack of balance on the panel.
“The information was rushed out and a lot of parents didn’t even know when the sessions were, which has resulted in a very poor turnout.
“A ballot would fully engage the parents and it’s the only real way to gauge the level of support for it.
“We’re urging as many parents as possible to get to the meeting on June 2 to get their voices heard – it feels like the only way in which we can do it at the moment.”
Another parent, Robb Johnson, who has two boys in year nine and 10, has recorded a song about the proposed changes for Hands Off Hove Park.
He said: “It’s really good news and if it does go ahead it will provide parents with a chance to get their opinion across.
“The consultation period and the leaflets have been designed to disengage, this will give us our voice.”
Both parents thought the ballot would show an overwhelming opposition to academy status.
For more information about the parent group visit handsoffhovepark school.wordpress.com.