The leader of Kingston Council has criticised education secretary Michael Gove for “forcing” academy status onto schools like Knollmead Primary School.

The new headteacher of the school has promised to turn it around after it was rated inadequate last week after an Ofsted inspection.

Under current Government rules, any primary rated inadequate by Ofsted is automatically teamed up with an academy school rated outstanding, with a view to becoming an academy free of local authority control.

But Kingston Council leader Liz Green said new head Emma Kelty should be given time to turn the school around herself with the help of the authority, citing the turnaround at King Athelstan Primary in Kingston as an example.

The Villiers Road school received the borough’s worst Ofsted report for nine years in 2010, but managed to leap up to good, the second highest rating, in 2011.

Councillor Liz Green said: "I think Michael Gove’s policy of forcing academies is wrong.

"We know we can help Knollmead get to where it needs to be – we’ve shown that with King Athelstan.

"I don’t understand why the authority has so much mistrust of local Government.

"It’s a new head and there is no reason to think she is not up to the job."