Union bosses have threatened further strike action at Worthing High School as governors continue to press ahead with the controversial move to academy status.

Pupils return to lessons today in the midst of a divided school, with the majority of parents and teachers opposing the senior staff’s plans.

Teachers went on strike before the summer holidays with 85% of the school’s most represented union voting in favour of industrial action.

However the proposal has now advanced with the secretary of state, Michael Gove, last month agreeing to the conversion “in principal”.

The proposals added that the school would formally convert on November 1.

A number of parents wrote a joint letter to Mr Gove in which they asked for his intervention in the plans.

In his response, he said he was “disappointed” to hear of the breakdown in communication between parents and the school and hoped that they could “work together” in the “best interests of the pupils”.

James Ellis, from Unison, said: “There is no date set for action but it is a possibility.

“As I understand, this is far from a done deal and the appetite and energy is still there to change the decision.”

The NUT, which is the school’s most represented union, has already balloted on “discontinuous industrial action” and as a result they don’t need to ballot again before striking. All they must do is give the school seven days’ notice of their plans.

Sarah Maynard, from the Academy Action Group, said that they had gathered a further 400 signatures over the last few weeks.

She added: “We continue because we support the teachers at Worthing High School, because we oppose the privatisation of our state education system, because we feel the governors’ consultation was shambolic and undemocratic and because we have lost faith in the school’s management.

“We believe the governors should abandon their ill-conceived smash and grab initiative and focus on what is really important: raising the standard of education for our children.

“Our campaign group has growing support and includes many parents at Worthing High School and its feeder schools as well as three local councillors and the wider community.”

The school’s business manager, Karen Hayler, said that the school had been granted its academy order in principle, which is the usual practice.

She added: “The school will now work towards having their funding agreement put in place.

“The governing body is committed to becoming an academy, however the decision in theory can be pulled at any stage up until the conversion.”