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Parents lose fight to stop academy plans
OXFORD’S Cheney School will become an academy despite opposition from parents and staff.
Consultation responses were overwhelmingly against conversion and a petition against the move was signed by 551 people.
But governors decided by majority vote on Monday to go ahead, claiming it was “in the best interests of the school”.
Campaign group Cheney Parents Against Academy Status has now launched a Facebook group called Oxford Against Academies.
Judy Raven, who has two children at the school, said: “This is a profoundly disappointing day for everyone in our campaign.”
She feared it would put pressure on other Oxford secondaries to convert.
Richard Stamper has a son Luke, in Year 11 and another, Alex, due to start in September.
He was concerned academy status would make the school less accountable, but has decided to stand for election as a parent governor.
Mr Stamper said: “It is a big change to the structure of the school which will take a lot of time and effort that could more usefully be spent on improving teaching and learning.”
Emily Raven-Baker, 13, started a Facebook group for pupils, but was the only pupil who attended a consultation meeting with headteacher Jolie Kirby.
Emily called for governors to explain the reason behind their decision. She said: “I don’t really see why we need to change.
“It’s dismantling the local authority and giving parents and teachers pretty much no say in what happens.
“I’m worried people are being scared into something that doesn’t have to happen.”
The school is likely to convert before Christmas, but the school name and staff terms and conditions will not change.
Separate changes to the curriculum and uniform, unconnected to academy status, are already being made.
Mrs Kirby said: “We felt there were more advantages by having academy status than not having academy status for our young people.
“There are additional financial resources that come into the school and opportunities to direct our resources to those students that most need it.”
During the consultation, 105 of 139 parent responses opposed the move and 29 of 50 staff were against the plans.
Mrs Kirby said: “Governors had to make a decision based on what they felt was right for the student body.
“We did take into account the views of those parents and went back and talked to them again.
“We looked at the strengths and weaknesses of becoming an academy and on balance decided it is the right decision for Cheney School.”
The school has been asked if it would act as a sponsor for Bayards Hill School in Barton, a move Mrs Kirby said was being investigated further.