Hackney school will be first primary academy in borough if application is approved

GV of Northwold Primary School, of Northwold Road, Hackney.

GV of Northwold Primary School, of Northwold Road, Hackney. - Credit: Archant

A school has made the controversial decision to apply to become the first primary academy in the borough.

Northwold Primary School in Northwold Road, Clapton is awaiting an “imminent” decision by the secretary of state for education Michael Gove about whether it has been successful in its bid to adopt academy status and leave Hackney Council’s control.

The school, which has 470 pupils on its roll, applied to the Department for Education after the majority of staff who took part in a secret ballot in October supported the move.

Alison Kriel, who became the school’s headteacher in 2009, said academy status would allow the school to “make independent decisions”.

She said: “We have chosen to become an academy because we want to make decisions for our own school.

“We carried out a secret ballot and the staff voted in favour of the process. The government said they would not consider our proposals unless it had the backing of staff.

“We can see changes ahead and want to retain our autonomy. That includes making changes about the type of academy we want to be.

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“A lot of schools are forced to become academies for negative reasons. We are doing so for positive reasons.

“We really like our school and are proud of the school as it is.”

Ms Kriel said the name of the school, which achieved the best SAT results in Hackney and the third top results in London last month, said it would not change name and the National Curriculum would continue to be followed.

She continued: “Pupils, parents and teachers won’t notice a difference.

“Because we are the type of school which is high-achieving we want to continue with the work we are doing and work in partnership with like-minded schools with the same values. We are pro-inclusion and believe in integration. We want the children to have a really successful and happy time in school.”

If the plans are approved, Northwold Primary will now lose services provided by Hackney Council instead get a slice of the borough’s central education pot to spend as it wishes.

Jamie Duff, National Union of Teachers (NUT) representative for Hackney, said: “The NUT is opposed is opposed to the academy conversion process.

“We see the academy programme as creeping privatisation. We would be very concerned about the pay and conditions of teachers. We would also be concerned about maintaining quality education at the school in the future.”

Cllr Rita Krishna, cabinet member for education and children’s services, said: “If Northwold School becomes an academy they will nevertheless still be a Hackney school. We will continue to support them; the most important thing is that we secure, collectively, the best start in life for children in Hackney.”