‘Hands off Budmouth’ was the message from protesters concerned about the Weymouth senior school becoming an academy.

A protest was held outside the school by Budmouth College Anti Academy Action Group.

It comes after the announcement that Aspirations Academy Trust will be taking over the school on September 1.

Among the placards were messages including ‘Keep Budmouth a local school’ and ‘Hands off Budmouth’.

The Echo reported last month how parents, teachers and carers had voiced concern over plans to turn Budmouth into an academy.

It was announced in January that Budmouth would be taken over by Aspiration Academy Trust – the same trust which operates Atlantic Academy on Portland.

Tony Afanasiew, who helped organise Friday’s protest, said: “It went well. There was a mixed reaction, some people in cars were tooting their horns and giving us a thumbs up. We had one or two in favour of the school’s academisation, but they were in the minority. An awful lot of people were slowing down their cars to read our placards.”

He added: “It’s the first demonstration we have held, so it was good to get it up and running.”

The protest was made up of concerned parents and their children, who joined in after they had finished school.

Protesters are concerned about the impact on the school and its students when it becomes an academy.

Mr Afanasiew said: “If you look online at the performance of academies across the country they are not at all satisfactory. Their finances are weak, they try to save money by reducing classroom assistants, so support for children is reduced. Special needs students are also neglected badly, and the number of subjects taught at schools are reduced.”

He added: “In the case of Budmouth College it went from being an outstanding school in its Ofsted reports for 2010 and 2013. When it was without a principal for over two years the school’s performance dropped. At the next Ofsted inspection, it was rated inadequate.

“When Richard Jacobs came, he was doing such a good job. The Ofsted interim report said he was doing everything he could to get the school back on track, but

before he could do so, the school was forced into academisation. The school would have been outstanding again in a short period of time. There’s no need to remove it from local authority control.”

An online petition on Change.org has also been launched called ‘Stop the forced academisation of Budmouth College’, which has attracted more than 150 signatures.

Aspirations Academy Trust operates 13 mainstream schools operating in southern England including four in Dorset.

A spokesman for Aspirations Academy Trust said: “We are aware that a small group of people were protesting against academies outside Budmouth College last Friday.

“We are delighted to be taking on Budmouth College into the Trust as we believe it has the potential to be one of the best schools in the region. We have exciting plans for the students of the college improving the curriculum, the facilities, and support services.

"David Herbert, the interim principal, will start in the permanent full time position as principal after Easter. We are delighted with this appointment and Mr Herbert held a good meeting with parents recently to set out his and the trust’s vision for the school.

"Budmouth College has a very positive future ahead of it after many years of instability. Our success at Atlantic Academy Portland, in taking one of the worst schools in the country and , over the last two years taking it to one of the top 20 most improved schools, should serve as a reassurance to parents.”