EDUCATION boss Dave Harling is demanding parents get a ballot on schools becoming independent academies free from local authority control.

He is urging fellow councillors to back his call for a vote on such changes in the wake of Darwen Vale High being forced by Whitehall to seek the status.

The senior Labour politician has tabled a motion on the issue for Thursday’s Blackburn with Darwen’s full Council meeting.

He has been backed by former Tory leader of Lancashire County Council Geoff Driver, who last year had a public dispute with Education Secretary Michael Gove over schools being pressurised into the status.

Concerns have been raised by councillors, staff and parents over the forced change to Darwen Vale after the school was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

The formal change will come into place later this year, with the Aldridge Foundation, which runs Darwen Academy, as preferred sponsors.

Coun Harling’s motion reads: “This council notes the recent upset over the enforced conversion of Darwen Vale School to an academy.

“It notes schools now have the power to convert to academies with a minimum of consultation.

“This council believes parents should have the final say on the status of their children’s school and on the preferred sponsor of any academy.

“It calls on any schools consulting on whether nor not to become an academy and on the preferred sponsor – whether through choice or by direction – to hold a ballot of parents.”

Borough Liberal Democrat leader and Whitehall councillor David Foster said: “We agree with the motion.”

The Department for Education was unable to provide a comment before the Lancashire Telegraph went to press.