A historic Greenwich secondary school embroiled in a long-running battle over a “forced” academisation saw fresh strikes today as kids start to take their GCSEs.

Parents, teachers and campaigners silently protested outside the John Roan as part of the latest calls for the Government to scrap a highly controversial academy order.

The 300-year-old school was told it was to be academised following a damning Ofsted report in June 2018– part of new Government policy that instructs failing schools to be taken over.

The University Schools Trust was poised to move in before dropping out in December, claiming it could not turn the school around with the resources it had.

No new sponsor has been confirmed, with rumours United Learning are tipped to come forward, but campaigners remain determined to force the government to revoke its order.

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Speaking outside the school this morning before the campaign headed to Westminster to lobby the Department of Education, teacher and union rep Kirstie Paton told the LDR service: “This is the last thing teachers want to be doing.

“We feel compelled because we are not being listened to as a community. Our biggest anxiety about academisation is the impact on our students. We’ve studied and there is no evidence to suggest the school improves by joining a multi-academy trust.

“We recently had a monitoring visit and the inspector said we are making steady progress. There’s still room for improvement, but they said our leadership can take the school forward, why would you want to mess that up?”

“We are anxious about the future and the best thing is for Damien Hinds to revoke the order. We can do this.”

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Academies are publicly funded schools that are not under a council’s control, and have more power over pay and curriculum. They are funded by the government, not the local authority.

Critics, such as one John Roan mum who has a daughter in year nine, say academies put profits, grades and business above children’s wellbeing.

“It’s a scandal”, she said.  “We can’t let this happen. We cannot let a business run our kids’ school. There’s just no way.”

The John Roan has lost several days in the last year to industrial action, but one grandmother today said she respected staff for “standing up for her grandchildren’s education”.

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Kes Grant, who has three grandkids at the John Roan, said: “I know a lot of people see the disruption with [striking] but the unions have tried, like this morning, to be quiet and respectful. I think if you have a work force that can’t withhold its labour then it can be exploited.

“I am hoping that we can move on and people will say there’s no point forcing the academisation on a group that are so opposed to it. Give us six months to turn the school around.

“We are having discussions as a family because we are so opposed to academies we would consider taking our children out.”

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Greenwich Council passed an anti-academy motion last year but is legally obligated to facilitate an academisation.

Cabinet member for schools David Gardner said: “Ultimately, what we all want is for the children to have the best education experience which means working together to achieve this. Royal Greenwich continues to invest directly and support John Roan’s school improvement programme to deliver this goal.”

Responding to the strikes at the John Roan, schools minister Lord Agnew told the LDR service: “Ofsted found the school to be Inadequate, and we simply won’t stand for underperformance to persist when the benefits of academisation speak for themselves, which is why we are working to secure a trust with a strong track-record of raising standards to take on the school.”