Governor steps down over Leeds academy bid EXCLUSIVE

Prince Henry Grammar School.
Prince Henry Grammar School.
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The deputy leader of Leeds City Council has stepped down from her role as a governor of a historic school following a fall-out over its academy bid.

Coun Judith Blake, who is also the executive member for Children’s Services, is among a group of governors from Prince Henry’s Grammar School, in Otley, to have resigned following the controversial decision.

The governing body voted 10-9 in favour of transforming the 400-year-old school into an academy – despite opposition from teaching staff and parents.

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In an open letter, the group of seven ex-members of the governing body said it feared the views of parents and the community had been ignored.

Coun Blake said: “When schools are making these momentous decisions it is really important they have the consensus of the governing body, staff and parents to the best of their ability.

“All the governors who have left have left with a great sense of sadness and we really regret the situation that has unravelled.

“We recognise that schools are going down different routes but what makes it very difficult is when there is such division and such bad feeling that has been caused by really riding rough shod over the views of people in the local community.”

The ‘No’ group says the future of such a historic school should not be decided by such a narrow margin.

Local MP Greg Mulholland raised the matter about the vote being so close in the House of Commons and he has also penned a letter to the Secretary of State.

He said: “It would seem much more appropriate for this to require a much more clear cut majority, to ensure decisions like this are made with clear support.”

Rehana Minhas, from the ‘No’ group, added: “We urge the governing body to re-visit its decision on the vital issue for the future of such a much-loved and venerable school.”

The school’s headteacher Janet Sheriff said legal advice had been taken to ensure the “democratic process” had been followed. She said the majority of governors who voted in favour had done so to “maintain all that is good about Prince Henry’s and to help us achieve our vision of further improvement.”

The school also sent a letter to parents to reassure them that the name of the school and the uniform would not be changing.

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