Parents of children at Oxted School deemed it a “very sad day” as plans to move to foundation status were approved, despite mass objection during the past few months.
The change was implemented on March 1 after governors announced two days before that they would proceed with the plans.
The school, one of Surrey’s largest secondaries, held a consultation period from January 7 to February 4, extended until February 11, to give the community a chance to air their views.
A total of 255 responses were given, of which 84 were from parents or carers raising concerns about the plans.
An online petition against the changes – led by Caroline Eastell and Hazel Holt, two mothers of children at Oxted School – reached more than 1,300 signatures last month.
The pair also set up the ‘Against Oxted Academy’ Facebook page and organised a protest in January with parents and pupils campaigning against the proposed change.
Commenting on social media after the announcement, Emma Courtman said it was a “very sad day for Oxted School and students”.
Amanda Lyons wrote: “Goodbye Oxted’s history, goodbye lots of teachers, goodbye land” – while many others commented they were “not surprised” at the decision.
And Natalie Ann Eastman added: “Hope they [the governors] can live with themselves when it all falls down around their ears. Not happy is a massive understatement.”
In a letter to parents, it was claimed the change would allow the governing body to seek greater autonomy and control over the direction of the school, while providing greater opportunities to improve progress.
As a result, the governing body also announced the start of a consultation process for becoming an academy within The Howard Partnership Trust (THPT), which will run until March 27.
It was previously agreed this would be the next stage considered for the School if foundation status was approved.
Miss Eastell said: “I think people have lost heart – there’s not much being answered by anyone. We’re still writing in about what we feel, but obviously they are going to do it.
“If they were left alone I think they would be a bit more open to other avenues, but because the Howard Partnership are basically running the school anyway there’s no other option.
“They announced the decision after a half term – they made the decision way before that.
“We have had three statements read out and Surrey County Council don’t want it to happen. It’s a sad thing.
“We have done the petition and they won’t take it. We have done so much since January 7 and there’s no more I can think of doing. It’s not worth it.”
Miss Eastell added: “It’s such a big school to gamble with.
“All we ever wanted was for everyone to hear both sides and just [have] a simple … ‘do you want Oxted School to become an academy, yes or no?’.”
The school has been holding a series of meetings to inform parents and carers about the perceived benefits of becoming an academy.
Governor Alex Murdoch said in a statement: “Over the past 18 months, Oxted School has made enormous progress in partnership with The Howard Partnership Trust and many parents are telling us that they have noticed how this collaboration has helped us drive up educational standards at the school.
“As a parent myself, it’s also obvious that my children are aware of the improved expectations in terms of their behaviour and dress.
“The governors believe the move to academy status within THPT, a Multi-Academy Trust, seems a natural progression in making further progress.”
Responses to the consultation can be submitted email@example.com or by post to The Governors c/o Oxted School, Bluehouse Lane, Oxted, RH8 0AB, marking your letter ‘Academy Conversion’.