Parents join striking teachers at academy row school

Parents joined striking teachers on the picket line outside a primary school yesterday, in a protest against Michael Gove's "ideological" attempts to impose academy status.

All lessons at Downhills Primary School in Haringey, north London, were cancelled as teachers walked out over the Education Secretary's plans.

The school has been on the front line of resistance to the academies programme since Mr Gove sacked the entire governing body earlier this year. Outside the school gates, Phil Brett, a teacher, said the school had found itself "at the eye of a storm".

"It's not a position that we want to be in, but unfortunately the Secretary of State has forced it upon us," he said.

"Michael Gove has made this an ideological battle," said Sarah Williams, 40, a parent. "Parents know when a school is failing and this wasn't a failing school. As this dispute has gone on, I've realised that it's got nothing to do with the school – we have become a mere inconvenience in the way of Gove's ideological zeal."

An Ofsted report ordered by Mr Gove placed Downhills in special measures in March. Its governors proposed keeping the school under local authority control, but were sacked by Mr Gove and replaced with an "interim executive board" who are consulting on converting the school into an academy. The Education Secretary's preferred academy sponsor is the Harris Federation, sponsored by Lord Harris of Peckham, a "great friend" of the Prime Minister. The final decision on the school's status will be made by Mr Gove.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Ofsted found that [Downhills] is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and that those responsible for leading, managing and governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement."

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