Teachers call for Islington school to drop academy status

Teachers are calling for the controversial academy famously rejected by Tony and Cherie Blair to be brought back into the town hall fold – after it came bottom in Islington’s league tables.

The head of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in Islington says City of London Academy Islington (COLA-I) needs the “support” of Islington Council after it failed to meet the government’s minimum target for GCSE results, with just 31 per cent of pupils getting A* to C grades including English and maths in 2011.

The academy replaced Islington Green School in 2008 – controversially taking it out of the community of schools the council has responsibility for – but has now fallen below the level it was at back then, when 34 per cent achieved five good GCSEs.

Tom Eastwood, secretary of Islington NUT, said: “The school needs support. The best source of that support is Islington Council, which understands the problems of educating children in a borough with the second worst level of child poverty in the country. It is also accountable to the local community.”

If the school remains an academy, the council will play no part in driving its improvement. Mr Eastwood added: “There is a danger that Ofsted will be called in to blame staff for the school’s ‘failure’.”

Islington Green was notorious for being snubbed by the Blairs, who refused to send their children there.

Cllr Richard Watts, Islington Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “I’m very disappointed with COLA-I’s results and I know they share that disappointment. It’s clearly unacceptable for an Islington school to get these results, well below the government’s target.

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“They are taking a number of steps for things to improve next year. I don’t think it’s because they are an academy – but it will be a test for the government, of how well they can work with the school to improve it.”

COLA-I’s headteacher declined to comment.