Avenue Primary School parents set to legally challenge academy conversion plans

Staff on strike outside Avenue Primary School

Staff on strike outside Avenue Primary School - Credit: Archant

Parents of Avenue Primary School pupils are planning to launch a legal challenge against the school’s proposed conversion to an academy.

Staff on strike outside Avenue Primary School

Staff on strike outside Avenue Primary School - Credit: Archant

A crowdfunding page to raise the £25,000 needed to fund a judicial review was launched on Wednesday, the same day as staff began a two-day strike in opposition to the planned academisation.

Both staff involved in the walk-out, organised by the National Education Union, and a number of parents are opposed to moving from local authority control to management by the EKO Multi-Academy Trust. A conversion date of April 1 has been proposed.

They allege it will undermine the pay, conditions and job security of all the school’s staff.

The legal action comes after a solicitors’ pre-action letter was sent to the Meanley Road, Manor Park school’s governors, asking them to halt the conversion process until the dispute is resolved.

The letter, seen by the Recorder, also contests that the decision to academise the school was unlawful, citing aspects of the consultation which they allege were carried out incorrectly as well as failure to comply with the public sector equality duty.

The governors’ letter in response defends their actions and state that “we are of the view that alternative dispute resolution is not appropriate”.

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As such, the parents have decided to begin the judicial review process.

A spokeswoman for the school and governing body said that “a lawful and comprehensive consultation was implemented and the views of parents and carers sought”.

She added: “The school and its governing body has sought to work with its parents and local school community through the consultation process. It is certainly not in the best interest of the school to be in dispute with its parents.

“It is disappointing that despite the best efforts of the school and the council to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the union they are committed to strike action, which disrupts the education of our young people and causes damage to our school’s reputation and the teaching profession.

“In respect of the judicial review, we believe that due process has been followed in this matter and the school are resisting the potential challenge.”