GOVERNORS at a top Ealing state secondary will decide next week whether to push ahead with plans to turn their school into an academy.
Drayton Manor High School is looking into the possibility of becoming the first in the borough to apply for academy status, allowing it move away from the control of Ealing Council and set its own curriculum, school calendar and staff conditions.
But the proposal has angered local union leaders, who have organised a public meeting on Wednesday evening(MARCH 16) – the day before the school's governors are due to make a final decision – to try to muster opposition.
The chair of governors at Drayton Manor, Christine Fortune, wrote to parents at the end of January to set out the potential benefits of the Hanwell school becoming an academy.
A supporting document said the move would mean the school gets more money, as it would no longer have its annual grant 'top-sliced' by the local authority. It argues that such a step would also reduce 'unproductive bureaucracy' such as council meeting commitments which tie up senior school staff.
It added: "Senior staff believe that the independence we already have as a foundation school mas been a major factor in the recognised success of the school."
Education secretary Michael Gove is encouraging more schools like Drayton Manor to become academies, but the idea is proving unpopular with those who believe they should remain under local authority control.
The Ealing Anti-Academies Alliance, which includes teaching and public sector union members, is urging critics to gather at Hanwell Community Centre at 7pm on Wednesday(MARCH 16) to set out their opposition to Drayton Manor's plans.
Martin Allen, of the alliance, said: "We do not think academy status will be of long-term benefit to local students and families, and we do not believe that there is a groundswell of demand for it. The problem is that the government is blackmailing schools with a short-term bribe."
He said the government's plan to create more academies amounted to 'the break-up of local authorities and an attack on union rights'.
Ealing Council leader Julian Bell said in February that there was 'no reason' for Drayton Manor to want to break away, claiming the local authority provides a good service.
He said: "It will mean we will lose funding, which the successful schools don't need as much, making us less able to help the schools which need our support.