The deed is done: Fortismere's governors vote to go it alone as one resigns

PUBLISHED: 15:16 22 June 2007 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 September 2010

By Marijke Peters FURIOUS parents at flagship school Fortismere are outraged at the governors decision to press ahead with plans to become independent. Despite opposition from 70 per cent of parents who responded to a consultation this month, the school

By Marijke Peters

FURIOUS parents at flagship school Fortismere are outraged at the governors' decision to press ahead with plans to become independent.

Despite opposition from 70 per cent of parents who responded to a consultation this month, the school has now decided to leave Haringey Council's control.

And the breakaway move has spurred theatre director David Thacker to resign from the board of governors in protest.

Foundation status means the school would be ruled by the governors, allowing them to change admissions criteria, sell off land and control staff's terms and conditions.

Mr Thacker said: "I believe this will inevitably lead to further conflict and acrimony, will be damaging to other schools in Haringey and is not in the best interests of Fortismere pupils. I cannot associate myself with the governing body's decision and for this reason I resign."

The campaign group Keep Fortismere Comprehensive said the consultation was a sham.

A spokesman said: "The governors are treating the school as if it is their private plaything rather than a publicly funded resource serving the whole community. Their arguments are so weak that they have refused a public debate and held their meetings in secret.

"We have been overwhelmed by calls from parents to continue the campaign and we are urging all those who support local, comprehensive and inclusive education to join us."

Governors first floated the idea of adopting foundation status in 2005 and it was immediately picked up by headteacher Aydin Onac when he was appointed in April last year.

In November he courted controversy by attempting to make it harder for students to enter the Sixth form by raising entry requirements from five A* to C grades to five A to B grades. But following a public outcry the Department for Education and Skills intervened and ruled the decision illegal. And last week Ofsted said the school needed to improve its "damaged relationships" with parents.

Nearly 200 parents - just 7 per cent - responded to Fortismere's consultation on the proposal but the governors have refused to release the results, stating only that "70 per cent voiced concerns about adopting foundation status but many were based on misconceptions."

Chairwoman Jane Farrell said: "Having considered the range of views expressed, the governors have decided to proceed to publish statutory proposals to change the school category from community to foundation.

"We strongly believe that our community is best served by a self-governing school that puts elected parent and staff governors at the heart of its decision-making.

"For the minority of people who raised concerns during the consultation, we have reassured - and will continue to maintain a dialogue - about our plans."

The council's children's representative Cllr Liz Santry said: "I am disappointed that Fortismere is still pursuing foundation status and surprised at the governing body's decision given that such a large majority of those responding opposed the change. As our response made clear we would prefer Fortismere to remain a community school."

A statutory consultation period is now underway. Write to: The Governing Body, Fortismere school, Tetherdown, N10 1NE by July 16.

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