Parents against Hastings school turning into academy plan more protests

Hands Off Castledown demonstration outside Castledown Primary School, Hastings. SUS-170125-162305001
Hands Off Castledown demonstration outside Castledown Primary School, Hastings. SUS-170125-162305001

Campaigners opposing plans to turn a primary school into an academy held a public meeting yesterday (Wednesday, February 1).

More than 70 parents and children, as well as borough councillors, met at The Bridge Community Centre.

Since the Ark Academy Trust announced its proposals for Castledown School, campaigners from Hands Off Castledown! have started a Facebook page, which has more than 500 members, as well as a petition that has attracted more than 700 signatures.

Louise Hersee, from Hands Off Castledown!, said: “We are receiving so much public support, have more protests planned and will be in the town centre tomorrow (Saturday) collecting more signatures for our petition.

“Talking to a lot of parents has shown one of the primary reasons we chose Castledown for our children was because it wasn’t an academy.

“Castledown is one of the last two community schools and that is something to be proud of and something definitely worth fighting for on its own.”

An initial meeting was held by Castledown on January 23 when parents were told of the plans. A consultation into the plans will run until early March and governors hope the school will be an Ark academy from September 1.

Governors said results and attainment at Castledown had been ‘very disappointing’ in recent years and added the best way forward was to start ‘detailed discussions’ with Ark.

Parents said they had not been told the school was under-performing.

Louise said: “We believe the best thing for our children and the school is to call a halt to this consultation immediately.

“We believe that with an open and honest discussion between a strong head and experienced governing body, and parents, staff, and stakeholders, we can explore the options and alternatives and find a solution that truly works for our children. This is their education and happiness we are talking about.”

The decision whether or not to approve Castledown’s plan to become an academy will be made by regional schools commissioner Dominic Herrington.

Parents have said they would like to see him visit the area so they can share their concerns directly.

East Sussex County Council said last week it had no concerns over the school’s plan to convert into an academy.

To find Hands Off Castledown’s petition click here.

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