Parents campaign against academy plan

Parents have launched a campaign group opposing plans for Castledown Primary to become part of the Ark Academy Trust.

Tuesday, 24th January 2017, 6:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th January 2017, 6:38 pm
Image designed by Jason Ellis

The campaign - Hands Off Castledown! - was born after parents were told of the proposal "out of the blue" last week.A consultation into the proposal will run until early March and governors hope the school will be an Ark academy from September 1.In a statement, released today (January 24), campaigners said: "The campaign group was quickly formed as the proposal had come from out of the blue, and parents and members of the community were stunned and extremely upset, not only because they hadn’t been approached beforehand to express their wishes on the matter, but because many parents had chosen Castledown because it wasn’t an academy."They also questioned the timing of the announcement, as many parents would only recently have submitted their children's admission applications, with no knowledge of Castledown's plans.An initial consultation meeting was held at Castledown on Monday (January 23) which parents found left them with more questions than answers - some saying they felt they had been spoken down to and not consulted "in any meaningful way".

They demanded to know why Ark had been earmarked, what other options had been explored and why they had been dismissed. They are now considering calling for a vote of no confidence in the school's governors.Councillor Michael Turner (Lab/Baird), of Hastings Borough Council, was one of several to throw his support behind the campaign.Mr Turner said he would be discussing the issue at the next full council meeting on February 15 and added: "My view is if the parents don't want it then the governors should conform to the wishes of the parents."

The next consultation meeting will be held at the school, in Priory Road, on to take place on Tuesday February 7, at 6pm.The campaigners have started a Facebook page - also called Hands Off Castledown! - which has already attracted more than 300 members.

In addition, they have launched a YouCaring crowd funding page to help fund the campaign.

What do you think of the plan to make Castledown Primary part of the Ark academy trust. Leave your comments below or contact the newsdesk.

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