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Schools Minister: no backing down on academies

There will be no backing down - that's the message from the government on plans to force every school in England to become an academy.

Pressure has been mounting for the government to offer concessions to appease backbenchers and Tory councils angry about the plans. Today, David Cameron again told the House of Commons he would not give ground.

As disquiet mounts, the Schools Minister Nick Gibb - who is also MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton - sat down with our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford to talk about the proposals - and explain why he believes that making every school opt out of local authority control will raise standards.

More academies - change for the better?

Every failing school across the South East will be forced to become an academy under new rules proposed by the government today. At the moment there has to be local consultation before conversion but that will be scrapped.

It means 16 schools in Kent graded as "inadequate" by Ofsted will be targeted - plus another four in Medway and seven across Sussex. Another seven on the Isle of Wight will be handed over to sponsors to improve their performance - plus a further five in Reading and three in Oxfordshire. So-called "coasting schools" where pupils may do well - but don't make as much progress as they should will also be targeted.

Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports


South's failing schools to be turned into academies

Failing schools across the South will be forced to turn into academies under new rules announced by the government.

Up to a thousand primary and secondary schools nationwide could be taken out of local government control if the new bill goes ahead. Critics say the proposals are undemocratic. Eastbrook Primary at Southwick in Sussex became an academy two years ago. Since then, results have improved dramatically. Here's what the headteacher Julia Sherlock had to say.

Parents delight after academy plans thrown out

Parents have been celebrating today after controversial plans to turn a Sussex school into an academy were dramatically thrown out. The headteacher of Hove Park had been the driving force behind conversion But late in the day he advised governors to vote against the plan, to avoid what he called "unrest and disruption" at the secondary school. Malcolm Shaw has our report.

Headteacher makes u-turn over school academy plans

There's been a dramatic about-turn tonight by a Head Teacher who had, until now, told staff and pupils that their school should become an Academy.

Derek Trimmer released a statement ahead of a crunch vote this evening - which will consider the future of Hove Park in Sussex. He HAD said that an Academy, independent of local authority control, could bring better exam results. But, many parents, as many as seven out of ten, have been opposing change. Christine Alsford looks at the background.


Sussex School U-Turn on plans for Academy status

A meeting will be held tonight on plans to convert Hove Park School Credit: ITV Meridian

A secondary school in Sussex that was hoping to become an academy has performed a dramatic U-Turn hours ahead of a crucial vote tonight.

The head teacher at Hove Park secondary school and sixth form is now urging governors to vote against a proposal to convert the school.

It comes after a fierce five month campaign of opposition by parents and campaigners who want it to remain under local authority control.

A statement issued by Hove Park head teacher Derek Trimmer - this afternoon says:

"I believe that with the level of uncertainty that exists amongst members of our community and the resulting level of opposition that may harm the progress of the children in our school, the time is not right for driving through such a change.

"Therefore I will be recommending to governors to vote against the proposed academy status and to support us in delivering our vision through continued partnership and willingness to consider a future where a family of schools could work together to benefit all the children of our community."

The meeting of governors tonight will decide whether or not to convert the school and follows months of opposition from parents and campaigners.

The Hands off Hove Park campaign have held protests, marches, held public meetings and even composed songs to voice their anger. They say academy status will make the school less accountable and fear it will be run more like a business.

In a ballot of 600 parents, more than 70 per cent voted against conversion.

And even some of the 1,700 pupils voiced their opposition with a demonstration on the school fields.

In some other parts of the region, three quarters of secondary schools have already become academies receiving extra freedoms and more control over their own budgets, timetabling and curriculum.

But Brighton and Hove has only three secondary schools that have been turned into academies because of poor performance - and high performing Hove Park would be the first to convert to academy status out of choice.

  1. Christine Alsford @CAlsfordITV

Growing controversy over school's academy status

Scores of parents in Sussex are opposed to their children's school being converted into an academy. Around 150 attended a public meeting where many backed taking direct action.

Among the options being considered - a "strike" where they keep children away from classes or sending pupils to school not wearing school uniform.

The head teacher and governors say they are just consulting on the move which would remove the 1500 pupil Hove Park School and Sixth Form from local authority control and give the school extra freedoms.

The case raises serious questions about whether the process of converting to an academy is robust enough if it can still go ahead amid strong opposition. Critics say there should definitely be a ballot of parents rather than just a vote of the governing body. Christine Alsford reports.

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