CAMPAIGNERS are calling for the conversion of a failing school into an academy to be halted until the coronavirus outbreak is contained.

Prestwich Arts College was due to become an academy on April 1 but the trust behind the move is now working towards a conversion date of May 1.

The school, which was rated inadequate by government watchdog Ofsted, must now be turned into an academy.

But anti-academisation campaigners, led by a former pupil, have called for the whole process to be halted while schools are closed during the coronavirus outbreak.

Josh Harcup has written to the regional schools commissioner asking for the forced academisation of Prestwich Arts College to be halted.

He said: “There is currently a global health crisis which must firstly be dealt with and it would be highly inappropriate to continue this process.

“Schools are closed for the foreseeable future and there is huge uncertainty over if or when GCSE examinations will be held.

“Given that schools are likely to remain closed until possibly September, I would suggest the consultation deadline be delayed until at least December 2020.

“We all want the best for students and staff and this irreversible process must be carried out correctly.”

The regional schools commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, Vicky Beer, has been contacted for comment.

Phil Rimmer is the executive headteacher and CEO of the Rowan Learning Trust which is set to take over Prestwich Arts College.

The Department for Education said that in light of the current public health crisis, decisions on the academisation of Prestwich Arts College will not be made at this time.

He said: “The conversion date was moved prior to the coronavirus outbreak. I will be speaking to the Department for Education later this week to determine the implications of the current situation.”