This new documentary film follows parents and teachers from Downhills School in Tottenham in their battle to stop Education Secretary, Michael Gove, forcing their school to become part of Carpetright magnate, Lord Harris’s academy chain. Their campaign is based on a conviction that they have “parental choice”, something Gove has promised parents across the country, but in their case, and many others it seems, has consistently failed to deliver.
In following this increasingly bitter campaign, the film meets others who’ve had similar run-ins, and uses secret footage and email correspondence, sourced through FOI enquiries, to reveal how local authorities and headteachers are being bullied into serving up schools for forced academisation, to keep the minister sweet.
The film challenges a number of misconceptions about academies, including that they out-perform non-academies. It also includes interviews with leading educationalists such as Ben Levin who sees the Education secretary’s obsession with structure rather than the quality of teaching as a damaging irrelevance.
The film is directed by Rhonda Evans, whose previous work includes films about teaching in Alberta, Canada, which contains the highest performing schools in the English speaking world. Unusually it’s being distributed on-line, and at selected viewings including the Cambridge Education Society on 11 February and at the Institute of Education on 13 February.