John Roan protesters
Teachers at John Roan have held several strikes in protest at it being forced to become an academy

Concerned parents have called for stability at a 340-year-old school at the centre of an ongoing row over becoming an academy.

John Roan School in Blackheath was hit with an academisation order after a damning Ofsted report found it to be inadequate last year.

The government has said that United Learning will take the school over from September, despite concerns from campaigners operating under the John Roan Resists umbrella.

Since the order, staff represented by the National Education Union (NEU) have held several strikes and parents have campaigned against the academy order.

Despite being against forced academisation, Greenwich Council’s cabinet signed off on United Learning taking over last week – as it is required to do by law – sparking fresh calls for stability from Supporting The John Roan, a group representing parents worried about strike action.

One mother, who did not want to be named, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “This ‘resist academies’ campaign does not represent parents at the school.

“Parents are alarmed that the NEU can support strikes at a school that they know is already seriously failing its pupils. We have just had enough of our children’s right to an education coming second to the NEU’s right to strike.  We have done our best to engage with the campaigners and discuss our deep concerns.

“I would never have imagined doing anything other than supporting teachers’ right to strike, but this is not a strike against [the education secretary] Damian Hinds; it’s a strike against our children.”

Previously, more than 100 parents have signed an open letter supporting the school’s leadership and calling for an end to “disruptive” strikes, while others have backed the anti-academy campaign and participated in action days.

A series of new letters sent to the trust have been published on social media in recent weeks calling for an end to strike action.

One such letter reads: “Whilst I do not agree with forced academisation, as you know the council has a duty to facilitate the order.

“Whilst I wholeheartedly support the right to strike, the strikes in this case are a disastrous own goal.”

John Roan School
John Roan School is due to be taken over by United Learning in September

Colin Fancy, a member of John Roan Resists, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “John Roan Resists, which has about 1200 supporters,  submitted to the Department for Education a petition with hundreds of signatures from parents at the school against academisation.

“We support the majority of teachers who are in the NEU and have stood by the school and like us want it to stay with Greenwich and don’t want it to become an academy. We support the many actions of the teachers to defend the school, including taking strike action.

“Strikes are an inconvenience that pales in comparison to the damage that academisation is doing to schools and children. Look at Halley. Look at Brooklands. Look at Panorama’s two programmes exposing what is happening to children and education in academies.”

The NEU was approached for comment but had not replied at the time of publication.

Last year, Greenwich Council published a commitment to keeping schools under its care.

However, the cabinet was forced by law to sign the controversial academy order last week, to the despair of many parents and some teachers.

A spokesman for United Learning said it was too early to confirm whether the NEU would support more strikes.

He said: “It has become clear over the last few weeks that those campaigning against the school’s future are a small, highly-politicised faction who do not represent the views of the school community.

“We look forward to a time when this faction realises they are not representative and everyone can focus on making The John Roan an excellent, local school”.

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Tom Bull is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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