A retired teacher has begged Greenwich Council to oppose academies claiming they “rip students and staff” apart.

Greenwich has been plagued with academy rows in the last two years following a government policy to automatically academise schools deemed inadequate by Ofsted.

Ongoing rows over the future of the John Roan School, along with controversial situations at Brooklands Primary School and the Sherington primary in Charlton have pushed academisation up the agenda in Greenwich.

The John Roan was hit with a poor Ofsted in 2018 and parents and some teachers have tried to resist being academised since then, with a high profile campaign.

At a Question Time event on July 31, a former teacher appealed to the leadership of the council to oppose any more plans for academies in the borough.

She said: “I have seen the devastation by taking control out of the state and handing it over to academies.

“I plead, I beg, that as much as possible we can avoid academisation of schools. I have seen it rip individuals apart – not only staff, but students.

“As much as possible, especially in multi-cultural situations, you need to retain the community spirit. It does make a difference.

“I have 42-years experience, I do not take making these comments lightly.”

Academies are publicly funded schools that are not under a council’s control, and have more power over pay and curriculum. They are funded by the government, not the local authority.

MORE The John Roan academisation: Teachers and parents protest academy order

Leadership duo David Gardner and Danny Thorpe were pressed on whether they thought academies will benefit pupils and communities.

In response, council leader and former teacher Dan Thorpe said: “I think firstly no.

“I think actually in terms of where this debate has shifted, the biggest difference to a young person’s life comes from going to a school where the standards of education are the best that they can be.

“The fragmentation of the system, I think, has caused real problems and taken people’s eyes off from where they should be.

“Yesterday night our planning committee refused permission for an academy school. Not because it was an academy but because the Department of Education had purchased a sports field that is designated as Metropolitan Open Land and it is entirely an inappropriate place to put a school.

“That is some of the madness that goes on when the council plays just a bit part player in a  system of education. We need to get back to a place where we can open community schools.”

Deputy leader David Gardner, former cabinet member for education, said it was council policy to resist academies.

“That doesn’t mean there aren’t very good academies with very dedicated heads and teachers.

“The fragmentation causes complications. There is a tendency for academies to gobble each other up and for governing bodies to disappear, to lose that sense of being anchored in the community and I think that is very important.”

Plans for the International Academy of Greenwich were thrown out on July 30.