MORE than 1,000 people have signed a petition urging the Government to open a full consultation over forcing Darwen Vale High School to academy status.

The petition, launched by prospective parliamentary candidate for Darwen Will Straw, was initially launched online, but paper signatures have also been collected.

Targeted at schools minister Lord Nash, the petition says: “Give parents and children a choice over Darwen Vale. We, the undersigned, believe that parents and children in Darwen should have a choice about their children’s secondary education.

“The parents, pupils and staff of Darwen Vale should be consulted by the Government before a decision is taken about the future management of the school.

“Local consultation is the best way forward.”

As reported in the Lancashire Telegraph last week, the Government has targeted the school after it was given a ‘requires improvement’ rating by Ofsted earlier this year.

But bosses at the school, as well as community leaders, have slammed the decision, saying the school was already on the up, and headteacher Fiona Jack was turning things around having been in place for less than two years.

The Government has also suggested The Aldridge Foundation, which runs the town’s only other secondary school Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, as its preferred sponsor.

However, this has been rejected by governers, and Blackburn with Darwen Council has vowed to fight the decision.

On Saturday, volunteers collected signatures on the Oakdale Estate and surrounding area and, combined with the online petition, collected 420 signatures on that first day.

Mr Straw said: “The speed with which parents and members of the community have signed the petition shows the strength of feeling about what is happening at Darwen Vale.

“Parents, children and teachers quite rightly want a choice about the future of their school and a proper consultation, rather than having a decision imposed by the Government in London.

“I hope that everyone in the community can come together to support the school and put pressure on Lord Nash, the schools minister, to rethink his dec- ision.”

To sign the petition, visit