EDUCATION bosses have been accused of failing to support Darwen Vale High when it needed help.

Tory spokeswoman Denise Gee led the attack on Labour chiefs at Blackburn with Darwen Council, as the executive called for a ballot on all future proposals to convert local authority schools to independent academies.

Executive member for schools, Dave Harling, successfully proposed a motion to the full Blackburn with Darwen council forum because of the ‘recent upset over the enforced conversion of Darwen Vale School to an academy’.

Fernhurst ward Tory John Slater backed his colleague’s criticism of the Labour administration and called for Coun Harling’s resignation.

Coun Gee said: “It should never have got to this stage. Where was the support for Darwen Vale when it needed it?

“When the council produced an improvement plan after Ofsted judged the school ‘inadequate’, inspectors said that it was ‘not fit for purpose’.”

Coun Slater said: “I stand by my call for Coun Harling to resign.

“Not enough was done by the council to support Darwen Vale.”

Coun Harling said the inspectors were only concerned that some of the council’s improvement plan duplicated the school’s own proposals.

He said it was wrong for a school to be forced into an academy when parents and the local community opposed it, as with Darwen Vale.

Coun Harling said: “This government talks about localism and parental choice, but education secretary Michael Gove doesn’t believe in it.

“He just forces schools like Darwen Vale to take academy status and chooses their sponsor, in this case the Aldridge Foundation, for them.

“Parents should have a ballot on both academy status and who the sponsor should be.

“Darwen Vale has been improving following the Ofsted report and would be judged differently now.”

He accepted an amendment from LibDem leader David Foster calling for any consultation on Darwen Vale’s future sponsor to be run independently of the Aldridge Foundation.

Tory group leader Mike Lee said after the meeting: “Our view is if the council had acted sooner, the school would never have been judged inadequate and there would have been no question about it being forced to become an academy.

“What matters is the quality of the pupils’ education not who runs Darwen Vale.”