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: efrank@hovepark.org.uk or governors@hovepark.org.uk
  • 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 www.handsoffhoveparkschool.wordpress.com 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 handsoffhoveparksch@gamil.com 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:  http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/green-party-gig-with-robb-johnson-tickets-12458384363?aff=eac2

Get down there if you can.

Got a story for Hands Off News?   Email: handsoffhoveparksch@gmail.com

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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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Letter to The Argus: Teachers, pupils and staff do not want this academy


Wow! Saturday Soapbox given over almost entirely to those opposed to a quality education provision for all our children.

I think I ought to say that teachers, pupils and staff at Hove Park have stated categorically that they are opposed to academy status, that opposition has been clearly reflected by pupil protests, a teachers strike that shut the school, a ballot of parents that showed 70 per cent of parents against academisation, and the election of three parent governors opposed to academisation.

Sadly Wealls & Goddard seem to value their own petty politicking more highly than the democratically-expressed wishes of the people.

As to the attempted beatification of Michael Gove by the head of Brighton College, it is perhaps more important to recall that Gove was considered such a disaster not only by teachers and parents, but also by his own party, who demoted him from Education Secretary.

But then I am not sure that anybody who has invited not only Gove but Jonathan Aitken, a convicted perjurer and Max Mosely to a conference on education (The Argus, May 9) is to be relied upon in deciding the way forward for our schools.

Parents at Hove Park choose not to send their children to a private school like Brighton College. They chose their local comprehensive and they have categorically affirmed their wish for it to remain a local comprehensive.

Unlike Mr Cairns, we don’t think that what “this country really needs is the restructuring of its entire educational model” either.

We’d just like our children, rather than prestige career-building enterprises, to be the paramount focus of the schools they go to.

The message from parents, pupils, teachers and the Brighton and Hove community is overwhelming: We like our school the way it is.

Robb Johnson
Payne Avenue


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Illustration of the effect of a 71% vote

The city council ballot of parents indicated 71% of parents opposed the school becoming an academy.

Here is a picture of what it would mean if 71% of voters in the general election voted one way.
Quite a convincing story.


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Letter to governors: No appetite for academy – now let staff and students focus on education and learning

Dear Mike Nicholls, Chair of Governors and HPS Governing Body,

Events of the last few days have demonstrated a very clear and strong opposition to the proposed academy conversion at Hove Park School amongst a broad range of the local community including parents, carers, local elected representatives, teachers, students, local residents and the City Council.  Outcomes of these events  include:  71% of  families /households voting no to academy conversion in the Council-run parent ballot; the landslide victory of anti-academy candidates resulting in the election of three parent governors  opposed to conversion; and the strike action of NUT members resulting in the school closure on Wednesday.

These results demonstrate that Brighton & Hove has no appetite for a convertor academy and would rather its community schools  remain as just that under the scrutiny and accountability of a local, democratically elected authority. To choose to dismiss these outcomes is a choice to dismiss the views of the very community this school exists to serve.

With so many key stakeholders opposed to the proposal to convert, and with so little evidence to support it, and with so many unanswered questions as a result of the consultation process, it is very hard to find any reasonable or compelling justification for continuing the distraction of pursuing the unpopular academy route any further.

We are told the final decision on this will be made at a meeting of the governors on 22nd September, but this will result in a further two months of instability in which students, parents, teachers and the local authority will face further uncertainty as to the direction of the school, which can only be damaging to students’ education and the school itself.

The parents and carers campaigning with Hands Off Hove Park School call upon the governors of the school to bring an end to this period of instability by stating immediately that the plans to turn Hove Park into an academy have been withdrawn. This, we believe, will mean that all concerned will be able to end the school year in the knowledge that the issue is at an end, and students and staff can look forward to a new school year with their focus on education and learning and the school leadership team can return to the job of running and continuing to improve the school.

This would mean we can all put our energy into working  together and do  all we can to ensure the school achieves the best possible outcomes and results for those who attend it, which we are sure is what the governors and senior leadership team desire as much as anyone.

We look forward to your immediate response.

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Three anti-academy parent governors elected at Hove Park School

Gareth Davies, The Argus   16th July 2014

THREE anti-academy candidates have been voted in as Hove Park School parent governors.

Sarah Arjun, Mark Radcliffe and Andrew Whippey will now sit on the board of governors after they beat six other candidates to the positions.

Parent pressure group Hands Off Hove Park put forward Sarah Arjun and Mark Radcliffe, while Andrew Whippey stood as an independent candidate but also voices his opposition to the academy plans.

Sharon Duggal, who finished fourth in the polls, said: “This sends another very, very clear message to the school that people just do not want Hove Park to become an academy.

“It’s another statement to the governors, and I don’t really see a way that they can justify the decision to convert now.

“The top three candidates got 170, 141 and 134 votes and then I was fourth with 131.

“The next candidates were in the 80s and 70s all the way down to the 30s.”

The three parent governors will now sit on the board as it makes its decision on whether or not to convert to academy status.

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