Downhills parents took the fight against their school being forced to become an academy out to the high street this Saturday. Around 30 parents and children occupied a branch of the Carpetright chain of carpet shops owned by Tory sponsor Lord Harris.
The Harris Federation is a key player amongst academy chains and has played a leading role in developing academy policies since they were introduced by New Labour. The Federation is named after Lord Phillip Harris of Peckham, one of the richest men in Britain who has a personal fortune of £275 million and runs the Carpetright chain of carpet stores. Harris is a member of the Tory Party and has made £2 million in donations to the party.
The parents and children calmly walked into the shop and sat down on the carpet to read a story. The story concerned Lord Big-wig who made a fortune making carpets, but did not realize children were not carpets!
The parents and children demonstrated outside the shop after the session.
The school, Downhills Primary, is the target of an attempt by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary to force several primary schools in Haringey and elsewhere to become academies. Most academies are secondary schools and there has been no demand from primaries to convert. The government has resorted to forcing primary schools who are deemed to have poor results by school inspectors, OFSTED.
The governing body at Downhills have been sacked and replaced by appointees who work for Lord Harris, they are supposed to consult as to whether the school wishes to become an academy or not but parents have little faith in this consultation.
Teachers at the school in the NUT union struck for the day last week and the parents’ campaign held a very successful teach in in the local park with former children’s laureate. Michael Rosen.
For more information www.savedownhills.org.uk