Downhills Primary School To Be Inspected By Ofsted On Michael Gove's Orders

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Downhills Primary School
Downhills Primary School

The primary school claiming Michael Gove is illegally forcing academy status onto it will be inspected by Ofsted to reassess their classroom standards.

The education secretary has asked the body to review Downhills Primary School in north London as they continue to resist pressure to convert to an academy.

Governors at Downhills Primary School, Haringey, have welcomed the chance for the independent inspection as they claim the school's attainment records are improving.

The school has struggled to retain the required standards of education over the past 10 years, according to the Department for Education (DfE). In 2002, Downhills was judged inadequate and put into special measures, a spokeswoman said.

Despite emerging out of special measures in 2005, in January 2010 it was again judged inadequate by Ofsted and told it required significant improvement, she added.

In a bid to improve standards, the primary faces being made an academy by 2013.

Lawyers representing the governing body of Downhills Primary have sent a statement of claim to the Department for Education, claiming Gove is illegally attempting to force academy status on the school.

Downhills governor Roger Sahota told the Observer that the action was premature ahead of the next Ofsted inspection and the secretary of state had acted unlawfully.

Gove was given a fortnight to respond to the claims or he risks a judicial review into his decision.

Ofsted cannot comment on individual cases but a spokesperson confirmed the secretary of state had the right to exercise their power to order school inspections and admitted the case was "unusual".

This is the latest scandal to hit Gove's academy drive, after The Huffington Post UK revealed Whitehall officials used private email accounts to pressure a school to convert to academy status, although Gove has since defended his team.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Given the importance placed on a further Ofsted inspection by the governors at Downhills, the Secretary of State has asked Ofsted to undertake an inspection. This will provide an independent assessment of the school's position.

"We can't just stand by and do nothing when schools are sub-standard year after year.

"Academies are proven to work. They have turned around dozens of struggling inner city secondary schools across London and are improving their results at twice the national average rate."

Downhills also received criticism from Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone, who recently said "legal battles will only be disruptive to pupils".

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