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Courts Parents successfully halt academisation of east London primary school

SAM TOBIN reports from the High Court

PARENTS battling the forced academisation of an east London primary school successfully halted the process at the High Court today.

Teachers and support staff at Avenue Primary School in Manor Park, Newham, also marked their 13th day of strike action today over controversial plans to make the school part of the Eko multi-academy trust.

Despite the fact that 132 parents objected, with just four voting in favour, the school governors pressed ahead with the conversion.

Sayesta Miah, on behalf of parents, applied for an interim injunction to stop the plan, arguing that the school governors failed to properly consult parents or take their views into account.

David Wolfe QC, for Mr Miah, said parents’ views at a November 2017 “consultation meeting” were not recorded on a report produced by Cranwell Consultancy, adding that “all we are asking for is a pause in the process.”

Mr Wolfe added that the report recorded questions and answers, but not the “views expressed at the meetings that were not in the form of questions.”

He said it would be “wrong” to decide the matter while “people are lawfully protesting against the decision.”

Andrew Sharland QC, for the governors, claimed there had been “aggressive action” by both parents and staff and there was “stress being placed on non-striking staff” by “insults, booing [and] jeering.”

He also claimed there was a “noisy, disruptive and aggressive” atmosphere at the November meetings, adding that governors were present at the meeting so that it was not necessary for it to be recorded in the report.

He said the school was “essentially becoming a war zone as a result of actions by parents and staff and the children are suffering.”

But Judge Mark Wall QC granted the interim relief, finding that Mr Miah would only have a “pyrrhic victory” if he won the case but without the academisation having been paused.

Outside court, NEU regional officer Michael Gavan said: “All the parents and all the staff and all the community of Avenue Park have won a great victory today.

“We really hope that the governors will think again.

“The right thing to do is to go back and decide that Avenue should remain a community school.”

Teachers at nearby Keir Hardie Primary and Cumberland Secondary schools are also on strike against similar plans.

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