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Sheffield activists may challenge academy result

Issue No. 2125

Campaigners against academy schools in Sheffield are considering whether to challenge a “consultation ballot” that took place in the city over plans to turn Parkwood School into an academy.

The ballot involved parents from Parkwood plus parents from three feeder primary schools in the area. On a 24 percent turnout, 70.6 percent voted for the academy with 29.4 against.

But campaigners point out that the ballot was skewed from the beginning. The government floated the prospect of a £15 million investment in the school – but only if parents backed the academy plans.

Local campaigner and teacher Ben Morris said, “Parents were told that the vote was about whether or not to accept ‘the millions of pounds the government had made available for a new academy’.

“Parents did not vote for an academy in Sheffield – they voted for the millions of pounds they were told they’d be getting if they voted yes.”

During the consultation, anti-academies campaigners were not allowed an equal chance to put their case at consultation meetings. While governors at Parkwood rang parents, those opposed to the academy had no access to parents’ contact details.

A glossy promotion pack for the academy was sent out with the ballot papers – but those opposed to the plans were not allowed to present their side of the argument. Local MP David Blunkett also sent out a letter supporting the academy plans.

The proposed academy, sponsored by Edutrust, could open in September 2009.

Teachers in the NUT and NASUWT union at the Sinfin community school in Derby struck on Thursday of last week against proposals to transform the school into an academy. It was the first time the unions had taken joint action against academies anywhere in Britain.

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Tue 28 Oct 2008, 18:37 GMT
Issue No. 2125
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