Opponents ‘massively disappointed, but not surprised’ as Education Secretary Michael Gove makes academy order for Cavell Primary School

Parents Mark Sayer, and Rachel Ward, with the petition parents have signed against the plans to turn

Parents Mark Sayer, and Rachel Ward, with the petition parents have signed against the plans to turn Cavell Primary School into an academy. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

The controversial academisation of a Norfolk school has moved a step closer after education secretary Michael Gove issued an academy order.

Cavell Primary School will be fast-tracked in the process so that it can be opened as an academy on July 1, said the minister in a letter sent to parents yesterday. However, long-standing opponents of the process have accused him of trying to 'ram through' the change against the will of parents, and say the conversion has no legal basis as the Duckett Close school is no longer in special measures.

David Lennard Jones, chairman of the school's interim executive board (IEB), wrote to parents yesterday to tell them of the partnership with the Right for Success trust.

'Moving into the future with Right for Success will bring a wide range of support that comes from Eaton Hall's experience as an outstanding school,' he wrote, adding that during the transition, 'everyone will be keeping a sharp focus on improving the attainment of all the children that they work with, both through the school and through the children's centre'. The school has been at the centre of a row over its future since the county council removed its governors, who wanted to form a co-operative trust with nearby schools, and pushed for it to become an academy after Ofsted branded it 'inadequate' last May.

The governors were replaced with the IEB, which last month decided the school should become a sponsored academy, though Ofsted inspectors took the school out of special measures following a visit on January 29, upgrading it to 'requires improvement'. Members of the Save Cavell campaign say that its removal from special measures means the IEB no longer has the power to order the conversion, and it is understood steps have been taken towards a judicial review.

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Rachel Ward, a spokesman for the Save Cavell campaign, said: 'We are massively disappointed, but not surprised, that the Department for Education have ignored the clearly stated wishes of parents and staff, and the judgment of Ofsted that the school is 'well placed to continue to improve'.'

Mrs Ward said the campaign would continue to oppose the conversion during the consultation period.

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She added: 'We call upon the DfE and Norfolk County Council to undertake this consultation honestly and – in contrast to all their actions to date – to listen to concerns arising from the process and act on them to halt this unnecessary and undemocratic, politically-motivated intervention.'

What do you think of Cavell's conversion to an academy? Write, with your full details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

Federations could help small schools – Page 17

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