Parents protest over plans to force Elton Primary School to become academy

Bury Times: Parent protesters, from left, Jodie Lomax, Beverley Reeves, Shauna Morris and Vikki Young Parent protesters, from left, Jodie Lomax, Beverley Reeves, Shauna Morris and Vikki Young

Angry parents staged a playground protest against plans to force Elton Primary into becoming an academy.

A campaign group, named Save Elton Primary School, has already been set up and members of the group asked parents to sign a petition after school on Friday.

They say about 70 signatures were collected, to add to around 900 names when including their online petition.

The move comes after the school was placed in special measures by Ofsted inspectors in May.

Both Bury Council and Elton headteacher Tony Emmott have objected to the academy move.

Jodie Lomax, of Walshaw Road, is a member of the group and teaches at Culcheth High in Warrington. Her three-year-old son, Joshua, and five-year-old daughter, Ellyse, attend Elton Primary.

She says does not believe the school becoming an academy would be beneficial to pupils.

She said: “Staff morale will drop, which will affect the children. We should be able to have a chance to have our say and improve ourselves — it should not be forced on us.”

Academies are independently run schools which are set up to take over schools which are regarded as failing.

They are free of local authority control and are not obliged to follow the national curriculum. They can also alter school term dates and hours, which has caused concern among parents.

Kirsty Turner, mother of seven-year-old Mason, said: “Mason loves coming to this school, his progression has been great and I am happy with the school.

“I don’t think becoming an academy is going to help. They should leave it to the people in the school.”

Angie Moldauer, of Manchester Road, whose daughter Gabrielle, aged nine, and eight-year-old son Mikey both attend Elton, is “massively against” the decision.

She said: “The school works well in partnership between parents and staff. For it to become an academy means we will not have any right to a say. If it is not broke, why fix it?”

Vikki Young, who has two sons at Elton, 10-year-old Sam and eight-year-old Jake, added: “My boys are doing well and the school needs to have a chance to improve.

“I think that something needs to change, but I am happy. Jake has a reading age of 14 and I have never had any problems with the school.”

Beverley Reeves, another member of the protest group, said they were staying positive about the situation.

She said: “Going off the example of Snaresbrook, we are in a similar situation and are an improving school. We are quietly confident.”

The Department for Education (DfE) recently announced that Snaresbrook Primary School in East London, which was also placed into special measures, would not be forced to become an academy after a long campaign by parents.

Elton is the second primary school in the borough to be forced into becoming an academy, with Radcliffe Primary School set to become an academy on January 1, with Bury College as their lead sponsor.

The group will protest again on Monday when a representative from the DfE will attend a meeting with school governors.

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