Academy row school appeals for PR help over challenge to Michael Gove

A London school at the heart of a storm over academies has put out a call for PR help as it attempts to battle the Government.

Michael Gove: education secretary
Michael Gove: education secretary

Downhills Primary School in Haringey has launched a legal challenge against Education Secretary Michael Gove, whom it accuses of illegally trying to force it to become an academy.

It is hoping for agency assistance either ‘pro bono or on a very low budget basis’.

Roger Sahota, a human rights lawyer who sits on the school’s governing body, said: ‘It’s very much a case of a David versus Goliath situation at the moment in that we don’t have anything in terms of the resources that the Department of Education has. We’re looking for help to put forward our case and articulate it as clearly as possible, and it’s key we have support from the public, not just from our local community but wider.’

The fracas comes as part of far-reaching efforts to roll out the academy programme, making schools independent of local councils.

Downhills Primary School has been given until 20 January to commit to the change, following concerns over its performance.

Otherwise, it will face an interim board of governors imposed by the Department for Education.

However, campaigners at the school – previously labelled ‘ideologues’ by Gove – have said that it has shown marked signs of improvement and argued that the Education Secretary should wait until the results of upcoming Ofsted inspections emerge.

Lawyers representing the governing body of Downhills Primary have now issued a 'statement of claim' saying the moves are illegal, which could lead to a judicial review of Gove’s conduct.

Sahota said the lawyers had been drafted in on a no-win no-fee basis. He added of any agency interested in offering its services: ‘We would like them to give us advice on how we can best proceed in promoting our message.'

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