A HEADTEACHER is calling on parents to rally as the consultation on the academisation of Darwen Vale High School is set to begin.

Headteacher Fiona Jack is urging parents and members of the community to get involved in the process over the next few weeks.

Mrs Jack is asking parents to give the Department of Education a 'wish list' of what they want for their school.

However union leaders have criticised the news that academy sponsor the Aldridge Foundation is to lead the process and that parents will not be balloted.

Blackburn with Darwen Council have also called for a parental vote to feature.

In a letter to parents, Mrs Jack said: “The Secretary of State will consider a number of factors, including the consultation, in making his final decision. It is important to emphasise that the consultation is not a vote or ballot.

“The sponsor will want to work with staff at Darwen Vale to understand what the educational priorities for families in the area are. It is also an opportunity for families, staff and pupils to consider what they might want of a sponsor; in effect, to create a ‘wish-list’ for Darwen Vale.”

She added: “I want to assure you that my only goal is to achieve the very best for our pupils – your children – and I hope that we can approach this period of consultation in a positive way to ensure that we get the right outcome for Darwen Vale.”

NUT representative from Blackburn with Darwen, Simon Jones, said: “It’s clearly an undemocratic and sham process unless parents have their say.

“Forced academy conversions are usually very unpopular and parents tend to be 80 or 90 per cent against. We would like to see a true representation of parental views and I applaud the council for backing this call for a vote.”

At Blackburn with Darwen Council, councillors from all parties were in agreement that parents should have the final say.

Councillors voted in support of a motion calling on any school consulting on whether on not to become an academy, and on the preferred sponsor, to hold a ballot of parents.