Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/401/4565
Save our education
Stop these academies
COVENTRY'S COMPREHENSIVE education is under attack. Coventry city council recently announced proposals to turn three of our secondary schools into two City Academies.
Jane Nellist, Coventry NUT (personal capacity)
Councils are being held to ransom by the government into accepting City Academies in return for extra funding to re-build or re-furbish our other schools.
Woodway Park Secondary School has been selected as one of the schools, the sponsor being a multi-millionaire Christian fundamentalist who will undoubtedly seek to impose his own religious views on the school for an outlay of just £2 million.
The sponsor Bob Edmiston, a car dealer, already owns multiple radio stations that beam out his religious rantings to millions of people. He already has one City Academy in Chelmsley Wood, Solihull and wants to establish three!
The second academy is proposed for a new, multi-million pound redevelopment by merging two schools, Barrs' Hill and Sidney Stringer. In this case, no sponsor has yet been identified. We could go through an absurd public consultation in September without knowing who the sponsor is likely to be! How's that for democracy?
After much debate in the local paper, some Labour Party councillors and members are clearly unhappy with the proposals from the Conservative ruling group on the council - even though it is the Labour government that is actively pushing these academies!
If these schools are established, it will be disastrous for education in this city. The government intends to create privately run City Academies in every city and town across the country.
Over £3 billion has been set aside for this 'Blair' project. Our demand must be that we have that money to rebuild our schools without any strings attached - that means no City Academies and no PFI!
COUNCILLORS FROM all the mainstream parties voted at a recent Waltham Forest School Organisation Committee (SOC) meeting to close McEntee Secondary School, which had seen off an earlier attempt to set up an academy. This time the United Learning Trust (ULT), a subsidiary of the Church Schools Company, wants to set up an academy.
Many people at the meeting feared that, if they rejected this proposal, the £25 million earmarked for McEntee in the Treasury would not only be with-held for McEntee itself, but also for the refurbishment of all secondary schools in the borough. Most people would call that blackmail.
Two other interest groups voted against the proposal - the schools group, made up of governors and more directly associated with education on the ground than councillors, and, amazingly, the group representing the Church of England, which says ULT has only very tenuous links with them.
Privatisations everywhere are cloaked in commercial secrecy. But it appears that private school outfit ULT, already owning nine private fee-paying schools, is looking to expand its empire. Its stated aim is to own 100 schools.
In The Socialist 14 July 2005: