No choice but to become an academy?
Schools around the country are facing enforced conversion to academy status – against the wishes of parents, staff and governors.
On a sunny winter's afternoon, Downhills primary school looks like an advert for the inclusive possibilities of inner-city, multi-ethnic education.
Children of different races are running around together in the playground; inside the walls are covered with colourful artwork. The head, Leslie Church, talks about one of the school's strengths: giving each child in this deprived area of north London – just a few hundred yards from the starting point of August's riots – access to free violin, cello or guitar lessons in year 4.
The school, which has been through difficulties in the last year despite the overwhelmingly happy exterior, might in other times be cheering itself with news in September from inspectors that it is improving.
Instead, this 463-pupil institution in Tottenham is now seemingly on the front line of a struggle for the future of England's primary schools.
Downhills is facing being forced by Michael Gove, the education secretary, to become a privately sponsored academy, despite fierce opposition from parents, the governing body and staff.
Last Thursday, David Lammy, the local MP, who was a pupil here, accused Gove of an "undemocratic and aggressive" act, which threatened to erase 100 years of local democratic control at the school, founded in the late 19th century, at a stroke.
Read more ... (The Guardian - 19 December)