A 16-YEAR-OLD autistic boy is leading a campaign to stop his former school from becoming an academy.

Prestwich Arts College has been ordered to be turned into an academy after it was rated inadequate by the government's watchdog Ofsted.

Once a private sponsor is found, the state-funded school in Heys Road will be taken out of the local authority's control.

But ex-pupil Josh Harcup, who was on the school's council for four years before leaving Prestwich, believes that this is not the right way forward.

The Radcliffe resident says academisation eliminates democracy by handing over a public asset to a private company.

He said: “We can’t gamble with children’s education. We can’t allow all this to go on. It’s not right for Prestwich Arts College. Prestwich is close to my heart and there’s no chance that it should be allowed to become an academy. We will stand in their way. We will do everything we can to stop this privatisation process.”

Chair of governors, Cllr Eamonn O'Brien, said that dozens of meetings have been held with parents to discuss the matter.

He said: "As this is a forced academisation, there is nothing we can do to stop it unfortunately. Therefore, our sole focus now as a governing body and school is to make the necessary improvements in Prestwich Arts College, so that every pupil gets the best possible education."

The Regional Schools Commissioner is responsible for overseeing the academisation process. The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

Campaigners will lobby governors ahead of their meeting at the school on Thursday afternoon.