Police called to primary school amid anti-academy protest

Posted On 10 May 2021 at 5:21 pm

Police were called to a Brighton primary school when parents blockaded the gates and padlocked side entrances to stop new academy bosses visiting.

Moulsecoomb Academy is set to be taken over by The Pioneer Academy more than two years after it was rated as inadequate by Ofsted.

Parents, unions and local politicians from all parties are opposed to the takeover, and this morning parents and campaigners stood outside the gates to stop Pioneer representatives in.

Pioneer CEO Lee Mason-Ellis said the school called police after the padlocked gates were raised as a possible fire safety risk.

But campaigners said the main gates were never locked and insisted their protest was peaceful.

The Hands Off Moulsecoomb campaign said: “Pioneer Academy bosses were met at the gates at roughly 7.30am by several parents and community activists who were doggedly committed to keeping them out of the school through peaceful protest.

“Side entrances to the school were temporarily locked and a large group of campaigners stood in front of the main gates, only letting staff, pupils, parents, and maintenance workers pass through.

“Safety concerns were considered, with phone networks planned in case of emergency. The main gates to the site were never locked and Pioneer were only prevented from entering by a barrier of people.

“This afternoon, parents received an electronic communication from Mason-Ellis to say that they have postponed their planned visit tomorrow. In this communication he claims that protesters had ‘potentially [put] children at risk’.

“Campaigners refute this and say they had considered safety measures and were prepared to immediately open side entrances in the event of an emergency, or to let emergency vehicles through the unlocked main gates without delay.”

Mr Mason-Ellis told Brighton and Hove News: “When we arrived, the gates to the school had been padlocked by campaigners on the outside, which concerned us as a safety risk in the event of an evacuation. The police were called by the school and we discussed our concerns with them.

“We observed some stress and anxiety from parents and children trying to access the school site and have now made the decision not to visit the school tomorrow but to complete the due diligence in a different way, to avoid any further anxiety for the children of Moulsecoomb Primary School.

“We would like to reassure parents, staff and the local community that the protests we observed today will not deter us from partnering with Moulsecoomb Primary School and supporting this school in the future.​”

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: “Police were called around 8.25am on Monday (May 10) to reports of a group of people protesting outside a school on The Highway, Brighton.

“Officers did attend to engage with those present. The protest had concluded by midday.”

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