There could be strike action by teachers in Derby after the Department of Education ordered a new board to take over the running of their school. The Education Secretary Michael Gove has brought in an interim executive board to replace the governing body at Sinfin Community School.
It's a rare step which the Government only takes in cases where it considers a school to be "failing". It also comes as Derby City Council was preparing to bring in its own interim board to oversee the school.
One of the new board's first jobs will be to begin a consultation on whether the school should come out of local authority control and become an academy with an external sponsor. Mr Gove has made it clear that he believes the best way to turn around struggling schools is to go down the academy route. One of the new board's members comes from the Greendale Foundation Trust, which already runs a number of academies in the Midlands. However, today a Trust spokeswoman said it was too early to speculate on any involvement in Sinfin Community School's future.
The Department of Education said it had intervened because of "serious concerns about standards at Sinfin Community School". Schools Commissioner, Dr Liz Sidwell, who works with the department, told ITV Central, "We've been really concerned about the school. It's had a history of under-performance. We've had a number of Ofsted visits where inspectors have said the school was making inadequate progress, and so consequently of course we're going to be worried about the children and we think we've got to do something fast."
The move has angered the NASUWT union which is now balloting members at Sinfin Community School on strike action.
Derbyshire Branch Secretary, Dave Wilkinson, said:
– Derbyshire Branch Secretary, Dave Wilkinson
"The DfE's decision to impose its own Academy sponsor on Sinfin Community School in preference to a local solution developed by Derby City Council exposes Michael Gove's claims of local and community accountability as a sham. Derby teachers, pupils and parents will be justifiably angry at this rule by dictat from Whitehall."**
The union also insisted that Sinfin Community School is not a failing school, as it has record results this year of 42% A* - C (English and Maths) and a better Comparative Value Added than many academies.
The ballot for industrial action will take place between the 12th-22nd November, with the possibility of strikes by the end of the month.**