The Bridge special school to become academy despite teachers’ protest

Teachers and volunteers protesting outside The Bridge School, which is set to become an academy desp

Teachers and volunteers protesting outside The Bridge School, which is set to become an academy despite strong opposition - Credit: Archant

A Holloway special school will become an academy despite opposition from teachers and staff.

Governors at The Bridge School, a primary and a secondary school on two sites, decided to convert the school to increase its funding levels and to retain freedom over its curriculum at a meeting on Wednesday evening.

Teachers, teaching assistants and members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) voted by 119 to 1 for the school to remain under local authority control and staged a protest outside.

But on a split vote, it was decided the school would convert.

Its primary and secondary schools share sites with Hungerford Primary School in Hungerford Road and Holloway School in Carleton Road respectively.

Islington Council said in a statement it was “disappointed” in the decision.

Executive member for children, young people and families, Cllr Joe Caluori, said: “Staff were overwhelmingly against it. I haven’t seen any evidence of enthusiasm for it from the parents.

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“I feel for a decision this big it would have been much better for parents to have been more involved than they have been in the process.

“However, we still see The Bridge as an important part of our community of schools in Islington and we know the headteacher sees it that way as well.”

Teachers and union members said it was a “sad day” for the school.

Paul Atkin, from Islington NUT, said: “The Bridge was built by Islington Council on shared sites with Hungerford and Holloway schools so that special and mainstream schools could work closely together.

“The overlap of sites is now an administrative nightmare to unravel as The Bridge becomes unaccountable to the local community.”

The NUT added that the decision was “a ridiculous waste of money that could be spent on schools” as it will cost an unknown amount of legal fees to convert the school.

In a statement, The Bridge’s executive headteacher Dr Penny Barratt said: “Resources are crucial for the education we offer.

“Capital funding (only currently available to academies) would allow us to update some very tired very specialist equipment.”

She added that the school is facing year on year budget cuts, so the revenue gained from converting would prevent redundancies.

Becoming an academy would also allow the school more control over its curriculum, Dr Brown said.

She said: “There was a time when special schools were expected to teach set curricular materials.

“Becoming an academy allows us the freedom to continue to do what we know is right for our pupils, even if there is a return to a prescriptive curriculum.”