Islington’s Liberal Democrat controlled council, against national party policy, has ignored the wishes of the governors of Islington Green School (IGS) and issued a closure notice on the school in order to reopen it in 2008 as an academy.
After staff at the school voted by 89 to three against the school becoming an academy, school governors voted on Monday of last week to ask Islington Council and the Department of Education and Skills to suspend plans to issue the closure notice on the school.
Instead, the Council rushed out a press statement the next day announcing that the closure notice was to be issued on Monday 13 November.
At a meeting of staff and a number of governors on Tuesday of this week teachers appealed to the governors to stand up alongside school staff against this politically motivated affront to the democratic rights of the community to influence what happens to their schools.
Earlier in the year the majority of parents who responded to a council-run consultation exercise said they were against IGS becoming an academy, yet they too are to be ignored.
Academies, we are told by government ministers, are meant to replace failing schools. Islington Green School is not failing. Its SATs and GCSE results have improved significantly in recent years.
According to Terry Wrigley, editor of Improving Schools and Senior Lecturer in Education at Edinburgh University, the number of students at IGS achieving five A-C GCSE passes, including English and Maths was rising ten times faster than existing academies.
Following the release of GCSE results this summer, local Labour MP Emily Thornberry wrote to the school to congratulate it on its achievements. So, why close it?
Like the Liberal Democrat Party nationally, and the House of Commons Education Select Committee, we believe there is a grave danger that academies will create a two-tier system of education to the disadvantage of less well off families.
This fear would seem to be confirmed by reports in last week’s Islington Gazette that parents hoping to get their children into another soon to be opened Islington academy, St Mary Magdalene, are “fighting” one another for places at the school and that local estate agents are being inundated with callers seeking to buy homes inside the school’s catchments area. How many local working class parents will be wealthy enough to do this?
Teachers and school support staff at Islington Green along with growing numbers of local parents in the borough will continue to oppose the closure of their school and the opening in its place of an academy which is unaccountable to the local community, only to its private sponsors.
We are calling on members of Islington’s School Organisation Committee to throw out the closure proposal when it meets to take a final decision in six week’s time. In the name of equal educational opportunities for all our children and local democratic accountability we say: no academy at Islington Green.