A TOP government figure has waded into the row over Darwen Vale’s academy status.

The Schools Commissioner for England said he entirely backed plans for the ‘failing’ school to become a sponsored academy.

Frank Green, a former head teacher who ran the Leigh Academies Trust for five years, said standards at Darwen Vale High School has been ‘unacceptably low for too long’.

It comes as consultation results show overwhelming community opposition to the academy plan.

Consultation found 87 per cent of people were against and just 13 per cent were in favour.

Mr Green compared the school to Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, in special measures just six years ago.

He said DACA’s results were now above the average for the whole of England while Darwen Vale’s has been below average for the past two years.

Mr Green said: “The ideal partner for Darwen Vale is the Aldridge Foundation. Their success demonstrates they have found a way of rapidly improving a school.

“The closeness will mean the two schools can work closely together and share good practice.

“As a result everyone will gain. Students will have better results, teachers will share their expertise more easily and the community will have many more young people leaving school with the skills, attitudes and achievements required for adult working life.”

He added: “Across the country underperforming schools are being turned around after being paired up with excellent sponsors. I would encourage the public to look beyond the myths surrounding academies and consider the facts that show this is the best option for the pupils at Darwen Vale.”

The consultation which found a negative response to an academy change surveyed 223 people. 193 did not support Academy conversion, while 30 said they did support the plan.

Darwen Vale’s NASUWT representative Claire Ward said: “This is a DfE official who has said it is his goal to turn all state schools into academies.

“It is no surprise at all that he believes the myth that Darwen Vale is a failing school in need of help.

“He and the Secretary of State have completely ignored the HMI reports which state good progress being made at DVHS. “They also ignore the stark consultation statistics which show the views of the local community preferring to comment on a school they know nothing about from their offices in London. This conversion is fundamentally wrong.”