Special measures school head quits


The headteacher of a school resisting academy status has resigned after it was placed in special measures.

Downhills Primary School in Haringey, north London, was judged inadequate in the latest inspection by Ofsted, which was ordered by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

The Department for Education said the school, last placed in special measures in 2002, had struggled to obtain the required standards for years and that the independent inspection was necessary.

However, the school previously claimed that Mr Gove was illegally attempting to force academy status on the school and that attainment records, and an interim Ofsted report last September, suggested standards were improving.

The school's governing body confirmed headteacher Leslie Church's resignation adding that the governors intended to stay in place while decisions are made about the future of Downhills.

In a statement they expressed "gratitude for the work" Mr Church had done, and added: "For personal reasons Leslie has decided to step down from his post as headteacher from Friday.

"Leslie's resignation was reluctantly accepted. Leslie is tremendously popular with parents, staff and children and retains the full support of the governing body. We wish him every success for the future."

The statement said there is strong support for the school and governing body from pupils' parents and the wider community and that "immediate action" was being taken to deal with the failings.

They said: "At a meeting of the governors yesterday it was agreed that Haringey Council and the senior leadership team would work with us to prepare a remedial action team which is robust and measurable.

"It was also agreed to appoint a mentor headteacher from an outstanding school to assist our interim headteacher.

"We recognise the work that has to be done in improving standards for all of our pupils and now wish to concentrate on addressing the concerns that have been raised by Ofsted with the support of our local authority."

The governors have written to Mr Gove to ask for a meeting to discuss the future of the school, which is in one of London's most deprived boroughs.

They added: "It remains our position that any restructuring of the school should not be imposed from above unless and until there has been a full consultation with parents, staff and the local community."

The school, which is more than 100 years old, last came out of special measures in 2005 but in January 2010 was told by Ofsted that "significant improvement" was needed.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: "We will need to see the final Ofsted judgment before any decision about the future of Downhills is made.

"We have been clear that we consider academy status to be the best way to improve schools that are consistently underperforming.

"Academies have already turned around hundreds of struggling secondary schools across the country and are improving their results at twice the national average rate. We can't just stand by and do nothing when schools are sub-standard year after year."