Bethnal Green Technolgy school governors vote to go ‘academy’

School governors have tonight (Weds) voted to turn Bethnal Technology College into the first ‘academy’ in London’s East End and opt out of local authority control.

The controversial decision came in the face of protesting parents and teachers who lobbied the governors’ meeting at the school.

The governors voted 12 to four to switch to ‘academy’ status, with three abstentions.

The school which has had �20 million of public funds invested in it has flown in the face of a widespread campaign in the East End led by the teacher unions, parents and politicians including veteran Labour Government minister Tony Benn who was in Bethnal Green last month to sign a petition against opting out.

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman tonight condemned the school governors’ moves towards ‘academy’ status just minutes before the vote while chairing his own cabinet meeting at the Town Hall five miles away.

“The school is best serving the interests of the community staying with the authority,” he told councillors.

“There should be an open debate when any school goes down the ‘academy’ route, especially with so much public money invested.”

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But most of the governors ignored the protests from parents and politicians and backed chair of governors Graham Taylor’s pet project to turn the once-ailing comprehensive into a Government-funded academy.

The move could split the local Tower Hamlets Labour party. Mr Taylor is also its chairman.

One protester, a prospective parent of the school, told the East London Advertiser after the vote: “This could badly damaged the local party. Members will quit over the ‘academy’ issue because of Mr Taylor’s move to quit the local authority.”

The move have already begun, with four more Labour councillors quitting and joining Mayor Rahman’s independent administration at the Town Hall.