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Councillors slam Education Secretary over Brierfield academy bid
EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove has come under fresh fire amid claims a second Pendle school is being ‘bullied’ into becoming one of the minister’s controversial academies.
Councillors are set to write to Mr Gove urging him to give extra resources to Lancashire County Council to help Brierfield’s Walter Street Primary turn its fortunes around, instead of including the school in an academy project with Nelson and Colne College.
Brierfield Labour councillors Naeem Ashraf and Mohammed Hanif are behind the move, which will also see Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and county council leader Coun Geoff Driver lobbied.
Coun Ashraf, in a motion to Pendle Council, claimed the school was being ‘bribed’ with the promise of new uniforms and signage and there had been ‘poor’ consultations over the move.
Coun Hanif said: “The governing body has been bullied to go along with this and has been told there is no point in fighting this.”
Another potential academy partner, Walverden Primary, has already withdrawn, after similar allegations of pressure being put on governors.
Coun Driver welcomed a successful appeal by Walvedern to Ofsted, when teachers insisted they had a ‘robust’ plan to rejuvenate the ‘failing’ school.
Nelson’s Castercliff Primary and Colne Primet High are the remaining partners for the college’s academy project.
But Conservative councillor Shelagh Derwent said she wanted details of the ‘poor’ consultation and ‘bullying’.
“It is very easy to say these things but it is another matter proving them,” she added.
But Liberal Democrat councillor Ann Kerrigan said: “I don’t think that being in an academy necessarily makes a school better.”
Schools which opted to become academies were also exempt from paying council tax so councillors should support their retention by the education authority, she added.
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