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Sheffield parents back academy in ballot

The first ever parental ballot on academies has resulted in an overwhelmingly positive response, with more than seven in ten voting in favour.

Parents in Sheffield were sent ballot papers on a proposal to replace Parkwood High School with an academy backed by the multi-faith sponsor, Edutrust.

The result was 70.6 per cent in favour of the proposal, compared to 29.4 per cent against. The turnout was 23.9 per cent. Parents of Parkwood pupils and its feeder primaries were asked to participate.

Sheffield became the first local authority in the country to offer a ballot on academy plans in a bid to better understand parents' wishes.

It has said it will hold a similar vote in each time it consults on moving a school out of local-authority control, although the results are not binding on its final decision.

"This consultation has enabled local people to have a voice in very local issues," said Cllr Andrew Sangar, the cabinet member for children's services.

"We're committed to making more and more opportunities available for people to have a say in what goes on where they live."

Alasdair Smith, from the Anti-Academies Alliance, said: "It is absolutely right to give parents a ballot.

"But it is nonsense to say that if they don't like the result, they can ignore it. That will put people off voting." He added that he was concerned that opponents of the academy had not been given a proper platform from which to voice their opinions.

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