Angry parents are protesting against Greenwich Council’s push for the academisation of all schools in the borough still under the local authority’s control.

They gathered on the steps of Woolwich Town Hall last Wednesday before the start of a full council meeting, in which cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Miranda Williams, set out the local authority’s position on academies.

Despite the council’s advice that governors should consider converting to Multi Academy Trusts, she admitted in her speech: "All schools being academies is the last place this local authority wants to be."

Academies receive funds directly from central Government and operate outside of local authority control.

The John Roan Resists campaign was sparked by a letter from the Maze Hill school’s governing body earlier this month, which told parents: "Essentially, all secondary schools will be academies by the year 2020, and the authority [Greenwich Council] calls on its governors to carefully consider their options.

"The John Roan’s best interest will be served by governors taking an active role in any academisation process, which is something that Councillor Williams makes clear."

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Parents on the steps of Woolwich Town Hall.

Jason Holdway, father of two John Roan pupils, said he believes the Labour council is using the Government as an excuse to relinquish their responsibility of local schools.

But he is hopeful a strong campaign will urge the school’s governing body to reconsider.

The 50-year-old, from Sydenham, told News Shopper: "Our main demand is that we have a parental ballot.

"If they’re confident of their argument and reasoning for academies they should be willing to give parents a ballot.

"If I was to lose and most people wanted it, then that’s life. If there is a ballot we know it’s been democratic, we have had our say."

Another John Roan parent, Peter Sinclair, said the view that all schools will become academies by 2020 is "simply not true".

He said: "Successful anti- academy campaigns by schools across the country have shown that – contrary to Greenwich Council’s regrettable stance – surrender to politically motivated interference by the Government is not the only option."

As well as fears over a lack of accountability, parents have also raised concerns about the possible negative impact on children with special educational needs and disability, after reports of some academies across the country trying to ‘cherry-pick’ students who achieve the best results.

Parents of pupils at Deansfield and Halstow primaries, two of the seven Compass Federation primary schools considering academy status, also turned out for the protest.

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The John Roan school in Maze Hill, Greenwich.

News Shopper understands the council’s talks surrounding academisation of the Compass Federation schools has been going on since at least December, when former cabinet member for children’s services John Fahy was mysteriously replaced by Cllr Williams in what was initially described as "internal matters".

Leader Denise Hyland later described Cllr William’s quiet promotion as a "mini-reshuffle".

Cllr Williams told News Shopper: "The Government has set out its plans to accelerate the conversion of schools to academy status.

"The council has provided information to school governors. It is for school governing bodies to decide whether or not to convert to academy status and they are responsible for discussing their intentions with parents and staff."

A spokesman for the John Roan governing body said: "We are not in any talks with any party to change the school.

"What we have done is to take the prudent step of setting up a small working party to research and review how the current Government education policy may affect the school and prepare appropriately.

"Our duty as Governors and our commitment is to do the right thing by the students, parents and staff – and actively considering all the evidence and different options available will best equip us to make the right decision. Until then, no decision will be made.

"We share our community’s pride in The John Roan and are committed to shaping its destiny without sacrificing the best aspects of its past.  We are doing this in an open and transparent manner and are including parents and staff as part of the dialogue."


A spokesman for the governors at Halstow Primary told News Shopper: "The Governors and leaders of Halstow Primary School have decided to consult with parents and the wider community on the possibility of forming a Multi-Academy Trust with the other primary schools in our existing partnership.

"In making the decision to consult, we considered the current educational landscape and the likely future direction of educational policy.

"We are committed to Halstow being at the heart of its community and are determined to preserve its unique ethos and values for all our children."

Deansfield Primary was contacted for comment.