A HALE headteacher is under pressure to explain to parents why she has turned down Trafford council’s offer of a new £8m school – in favour of becoming an academy.

The head of Stamford Park Junior School, Cathryn Downing, has also been accused of discussing the proposal in private for more than a year.

In February, council chiefs tabled plans to amalgamate the junior and infant schools, as they both currently share the same building.

The move would have reduced class sizes – and made a ‘significant’ difference to the century-old building, parents have said.

While infant school governors, supported by headteacher Anne-Marie McDowell, said a brand new school would ‘benefit future generations’. 

However, despite opposition, Ms Downing has announced she turned down the authority’s multi-million-pound offer.

She said the deal was rejected because the authority offered ‘very limited detail’ despite requests for more information.

“I needed to make a decision to ensure the long term sustainability of the school,” she said.

“In moving towards joining the Hamblin Academy Trust, the school will be able to utilise its expertise.

“There will also be opportunities to develop our curriculum – and have an even greater focus on pupils with special educational needs. ”

However,  lead campaigner Laura Fisher disagrees arguing the plan acadamise would not be in the school’s best interest.

“The building is in such a poor state,” she said.

“Due to the lack of space in the infant school, small groups of children are being taught in corridors.

“A new building would provide appropriate areas for teaching as well as improved access to outdoor areas – all of which would greatly benefit the children.

“How can the junior school make a decision that is deemed to be in the interests of all pupils, when the weight of the argument in favour of a new school is so great – and has the backing of so many parents?”

Her comments were supported by infant school governors, parents and the headteacher.  

“Accepting the council’s offer of a brand new school would be the best option for everyone involved,” said a spokesman. 

“It wouldn’t just help current pupils – it would also benefit future generations.

“We are very concerned that despite strong opposition from parents of both schools, coupled with support from the local authority, the rush towards academisation seems to be continuing.”

“As governors of the infant school, we are keen to promote a fair and equitable discussion on the merits of both amalgamation and academisation,

involving parents closely in that discussion.”

Ms Downing said there are plans to consult with everyone involved before a final decision is made.

“We fully appreciate the difficulties that our neighbouring infant school faces in securing its future,” she said.

“However, as the Department of Education and unions have clearly stated, it is for each individual school to determine their best way forward during these challenging times.”

If the proposals go ahead, the school could make the transition to academy status as early as September.

It would then be classed as an independent state-funded school, which receives its funding directly from central government, rather than through a local authority.

The headteacher would deal with the day-to-day running of the school, but it would also be overseen by the trust – and will form part of an academy chain.

The trust and schools will provide advice, support, expertise and a strategic overview.

They also control their own admissions process and have more freedom than other schools to innovate.