Embattled Durand Academy heading to Downing Street for 'explosive' documentary

But some parents object to the school 'dragging' pupils into its dispute with the government

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The controversial Durand Academy is set to present a petition to Downing Street tomorrow, calling on prime minister Theresa May to prevent public "attacks" on the school.

The event will be filmed for "an explosive 60-minute documentary", according to a statement released on behalf of the academy.

The move follows a decision by the Education Funding Agency to terminate its funding agreement with the South London-based school, after Durand refused to comply with a list of demands aimed at reducing what the EFA perceived to be potential conflicts of interest.

Labour MP Kate Hoey is due to join 50 parents and teachers from Durand Academy to deliver the petition, which has been signed by 1,219 people.

Last month, Ofsted temporarily published an inspection report which downgraded Durand to a "requires improvement" rating and said the school should be placed in special measures. Ofsted said it was not the final version of the report and had been published by accident.

Durand's founder, Sir Greg Martin, has since told TES that the school had issued Ofsted with a legal injunction banning publication of the report, and has sought permission for a judicial review.

He said the EFA had to to give one year's notice before it could withdraw funding, but that the clock had not yet started due to an ongoing appeal against the EFA's decision.

As well as filming the event at Downing Street, the school recently filmed a school concert and during lessons. Sir Greg said this was "to record what the school's actually capable of" and shine a light on "the school's fantastic achievements and behaviour". It was "part of what we've always done", he said. 

However, TES understands that some parents have expressed concern about the filming and have withdrawn permission for their children to appear in the documentary.  One parent, who did not wish to be named,  said: “There is no way this filming was a normal part of school life.

"It took us by surprise and no specific permission was requested. It is disappointing and upsetting that the school management try to drag the children into the dispute in this way. The children should be kept out of this.”      

Durand headteacher Mark McLaughlin said: "Any parents wishing their children not to be in any filming that takes place in school just have to notify the office and we will ensure they are not. Parents are sent letters and in newsletters during the course of the year to let them know this."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "The department's concerns about the financial management and governance at Durand Academy are long standing and significant in terms of proper management of tax payer's money. A provisional notice of termination was therefore issued to the trust on 4 July 2016.

"Following the failure of the Durand Academy Trust to address our concerns, we confirmed in September 2016 that we were planning to proceed with the termination of the trust's funding agreement.

"In January 2017 the trust made new proposals to address our concerns, which we are actively considering. The decision to pursue these concerns is not one we have taken lightly but it has been done to safeguard the future education of Durand's pupils and to ensure public money and public assets intended for the education of children are managed effectively". 

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