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Now teachers join parents in battle against Fortismere governors

PUBLISHED: 15:21 17 May 2007 | UPDATED: 14:32 07 September 2010

By Marijke Peters TEACHERS have declared war on school bosses over plans for flagship comprehensive Fortismere to break away from Haringey Council control. Members of the National Union of Teachers at the Muswell Hill secondary are holding a ballot on the

By Marijke Peters

TEACHERS have declared war on school bosses over plans for flagship comprehensive Fortismere to break away from Haringey Council control.

Members of the National Union of Teachers at the Muswell Hill secondary are holding a ballot on the proposal to adopt foundation status, which would see governors take charge of admissions, budget, employment of teachers and land.

The move follows an outcry from many parents, who fear the changes would allow the school to exclude less academic students in favour of high-achievers.

More than 100 parents and staff crammed into a meeting organised by the Keep Fortismere Comprehensive campaign on Monday and passed an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the governing body.

Maths teacher Sue Caldwell said: "We have had three meetings to discuss the foundation status and each time there was overwhelming opposition.

"One reason is in terms of our own pay and conditions, we are concerned we will move from an employer that is large and has accountability to a small untested one that knows very little about what we do.

"I think we have a fantastically good case and good opportunity to beat this and I hope people don't give up and keep fighting."

Proposals for foundation status were first put forward in April last year when new headteacher Adyin Onac took over at Fortismere.

Since then the governors have fallen foul of the law by attempting to change admissions criteria for sixth form students from five A to C grades to five A to Bs.

The Department for Education and Skills ruled the change illegal and ordered the governors to stick to the existing arrangements.

The latest consultation with parents ends tomorrow but governors have not promised to make the responses public.

Parents and local residents derided the process as a sham and said the whole community should be asked for their views before any decision is taken.

Clive Menzies, chairman of the governors at nearby Highgate Wood secondary school said: "I wouldn't call it a consultation and I don't feel it's adequate.

"It looks like someone has hijacked the governing body.

"This sounds like a dodgy agenda, and if parents value the future of children at Fortismere they need to make it their business to find out what's going on and if necessary, change the governing body."

Chairwoman of governors Jane Farrell said teachers had been asked for their views but refused to tell Broadway what they said. Ms Caldwell says the "vast majority" of staff are against the proposals.

Ms Farrell said: "Whenever changes are proposed there are always strong emotions and feelings and I understand people feel strongly about both sides of the argument.

"That's why we are carrying out the consultation.

"We want to do what is in the best interests of the parents of the children who come to the school. If we didn't think foundation status was in their best interests we wouldn't be doing this consultation."

broadway@hamhigh.co.uk

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