1. ITV Report

Teachers at school in Derby defend decision to go on strike

The union have insisted that Sinfin Community School is not a failing school Photo: ITV Central

Teachers at a secondary school in Derby have defended their decision to go on strike over plans by the Government to turn it into an academy.

Members of the NASUWT and NUT unions today began two days of industrial action at Sinfin Community School, forcing hundreds of students to miss lessons.

It comes after the Education Secretary Michael Gove ordered a takeover of the school because of concerns about standards.

It's only the fifth time the Government has taken such a step. Mr Gove installed an interim executive board at the school last month in place of the governing body - its first priority was to begin a consultation about becoming an academy.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

"This is yet another example of the Secretary of State trying to force his will on a school in the face of widespread opposition and for ideological rather than educational reasons.

"Ofsted placed the school into special measures earlier this year and say progress since then has been inadequate. However, GCSE results have been improving over the last three years, and this summer 43% of pupils achieved 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths - above the national floor of 40% set by the Government.

Derby City Council has been working with the school to improve standards and had planned to put its own interim executive board in place. The authority is now taking legal action against the Government in a bid to block its plans to turn the school into an academy."

Cllr Martin Rawson, who's responsible for children's services in the city, said:

"It just feels like a decision imposed by Whitehall by Michael Gove without really knowing or understanding the situation or the facts on the ground.

Today, no-one from the school was available for interview. However a Department for Education spokesperson said:

“We have serious concerns about standards at Sinfin Community School. This is a school with a long history of underperformance. We cannot just stand by when a school is failing children – we need to step in and make changes quickly.

"Ministers are clear that the best way to turn round a consistently under-performing school is the strong external challenge and support from an Academy sponsor.

"Academies have already turned around hundreds of struggling secondary schools across the country and are improving their results at twice the national average.”

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