The proposed sponsor of Moulsecoomb Primary has pulled out and said that the school faces closure.
New Horizons Academy Trust criticised the campaign against the switch from being a local authority maintained school to an academy.
The academy trust’s director of education Lee Murley said that the biggest losers would be the school’s children.
He added: “At present the atmosphere for those looking to help the school feels toxic.”
The decision to walk away came after the New Horizons Academy Trust voted unanimously against sponsorship of Moulsecoomb Primary.
The board of trustees expressed regret at what they said was a “lost opportunity to help children achieve their potential”.
The trust said that it was invited to step in because Moulsecoomb Primary School was rated “inadequate” by the official education watchdog Ofsted.
Only 41 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standards in reading, writing and maths at key stage 2, compared with the national average of 69 per cent.
The trust said that, as a result of the school’s poor performance, the Department for Education issued an “academy order” in June.
The academy order said that, due to the failure of the local authority (Brighton and Hove City Council) to run the school effectively, it must be placed into a multi-academy trust.
The only alternative would be the closure of the school.
New Horizons Academy Trust, which runs Seaside Primary in Lancing – rated “outstanding” by Ofsted – was chosen to sponsor the school after a number of other trusts declined.
It cited “its pupils’ excellent results, its proven effective management and strong school-to-school support, as well as its close proximity to Brighton”.
Mr Murley, who is also the head teacher at Seaside Primary School, the multi-academy trust’s only other school, said: “We were very keen to work with the staff and parents of Moulsecoomb to share best practice and provide the children with some wonderful opportunities that are currently unavailable to them.
“We are a small, local academy trust. We have first-hand experience in turning a school around and transforming children’s education for the better and we wanted to share how we have done this with Moulsecoomb.”
But the trust said: “Opposition for New Horizon’s sponsorship of Moulsecoomb from parents, staff and Brighton politicians has, however, been strong, with protests and even a mock funeral being staged.
“One of the biggest reasons cited for opposition was that parents feared special education needs would not be provided for should Moulsecoomb become an academy. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We have many children at Seaside Primary with special education needs (16.8 per cent) and they are thriving socially and academically.
“On several occasions, Moulsecoomb parents and teachers were invited along to Seaside Primary to speak to some of the teachers, pupils and parents about what it’s really like being within the New Horizons family of schools but the invitations were refused.”
The trust said that it was keen for Moulsecoomb to maintain its unique identity: “We wanted to keep the name and would have actively encouraged community involvement.
“The location would not change. The building would not change. The only changes would be better management, more opportunities for the children and vastly improved learning.”
Mr Murley said: “Independent due diligence demonstrates Moulsecoomb Primary has a significant projected deficit of approximately £300,000.
“Class sizes at the moment are very small, with many being less than 20 children. Against all national benchmarks this is unsustainable for any school.
“The long-term sustainability of the school financially will continue to raise further problems if not addressed proactively.
“The school is over-staffed and still significantly underperforming.
“Although sponsoring the school would have meant enormous financial risk for the trust, it is one we were prepared to take as children’s education and the fate of a local school are at stake.
“Unfortunately, we cannot work with a teaching body which has no desire to work with us – it diminishes the chances of us, or indeed anyone, being able to improve the school, and hinders the children’s progress.
“As a trust we have a moral obligation to ensure the welfare of our own staff and would feel highly uncomfortable about sending them into an environment where they would not be made welcome.
“At present the atmosphere for those looking to help the school feels toxic. Parental opposition is something we would never bow down to, when something as important as children’s futures are in question.
“But when objections come from within the school as well, that is when improvements become unviable.”
The trust added: “What happens next with Moulsecoomb is yet to be decided but it is likely that a larger academy trust from outside the area will take over.
“The alternative is that the school could be forced to close completely.”
Mr Murley said: “Those who lose the most in all this are the children of Moulsecoomb.
“It saddens me beyond measure to think their learning is suffering due to people’s misunderstanding of what it means to be part of a local academy trust school.
“The politics in Brighton regarding academisation is so entrenched that some candidates are using the situation at the school to garner support and win votes for their respective parties.
“Ironically, they all state how well the school is improving without any relative experience of school leadership themselves.
“I, like many of my colleagues, entered teaching to help as many children as possible reach their full potential and go on to achieve their greatest ambitions in life.
“Regrettably, the future of Moulsecoomb and its pupils is now in the balance.”
Whitehawk Primary School became an academy in September 2013 and four years later in September 2017 – as City Academy Whitehawk – the school became part of the Aurora Multi-Academy Trust.
The old primary school was rated “inadequate” by Ofsted but last year it was found to be “good” across the board with “outstanding” for “early years provision”.
It was a different story for Stanley Deason Secondary School which was rebranded as Marina High in September 1997.
It was closed and reopened under Labour’s “Fresh Start” programme in September 1999 when it became known as East Brighton College of Media Arts – or Comart – before closing for good in August 2005.