By James Cornish
Parents have given a thumbs-down to proposals to convert a Brixton primary school into an academy.
More than 80 people attended a meeting at Sudbourne Primary, Hayter Road, last night, as speaker after speaker questioned the idea of breaking away from Lambeth council.
Academy status hands control of a school to the headteacher and governors, with funding coming direct from Whitehall rather than through the local education authority.
One concern raised last night was that more disadvantaged schools will be left with a “rump” education authority. There was also the fear that governors might not be able to deal with greatly increased responsibilities.
Sudbourne governor Peter Blake told the Brixton Blog today that governors had to take the ultimate decision, even if that was after a vote of teachers and parents.
He added: “In my view the worst thing would have been if anyone were apathetic or thought the decision had already been made, but we’ve had a great response from parents.
“The governors have been open to considering the idea of becoming an academy but there’s been no overriding view one way or the other. It’s quite rare for anyone to do a consultation like this before any decision has been made at all – it’s a very genuine process. ”
Milan Stevanovic, an Australian who has been headmaster since 2005, admitted the governors were agonising over the decision.
However he made clear his interest in the prospect of an extra £100,000 of funding. It would be enough, he said, to recruit three teachers.
Out of 12 teachers balloted none were in favour, four said they didn’t know and eight were against.
Parents have until February 10 to make comments on the proposal, with a decision being made by the governing body next month.
Corpus Christi, a Roman Catholic school close by on Brixton Hill, switched to academy status last August, making it one of three converted primaries in Lambeth.
Its headmaster, John Wentworth, said the conversion had been a huge success so far, especially on financial grounds.
But Alasdair Smith, of the anti-academies alliance, said the conversion push was privatisation by disguise and amounted to social segregation. “It’s grab the cash, and to hell with the rest,” he said.
Sudbourne, rated outstanding by Ofsted, has 350 pupils, 30 per cent of them on free school meals. Hugely oversubscribed, it is also considering expanding on to a nearby site.