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Haggerston school keeps on fighting
AROUND 200 pupils, parents and teachers gathered outside Haggerston girls' school's gates recently to show Hackney's Schools Organising Committee (SOC) what they thought of plans to make Haggerston a mixed-sex school.
A lively demonstration set off for the Learning Trust HQ with pupils chanting, wearing badges, and carrying balloons, placards, and banners. Pupils then gathered on the Town Hall steps to watch a GCSE drama group perform their exam piece and performances from the year nine choir and the school's Turkish dance group.
Pupils, parents and teachers opposed the Trust's plan from the outset. The Trust wants to break up the strong community feeling in and around the school in order to make future privatisation easier to push through.
They also want to break down the school's strong NUT group (which Trust managers call the 'Haggerston Soviet') because many teachers would leave if the school's present status changes.
Haggerston is successful. Ofsted praised it as among the best schools in the country, taking into account its 'value added' score. The Trust, however, say too many boys have to go to schools outside the borough and they need to sort this out, but many girls also leave the borough. And in the last few years one mixed school and two boys' schools have been closed down.
The Trust also say Haggerston cannot 'compete' with the Bridge academy, a mixed academy run by UBS bank, being built 100 yards from the school. The Bridge is being built on the undersized site of a closed primary school, and rumours suggest that UBS wants Haggerston school, with its large grounds, to be their academy and the new building to be its sixth form.
At the SOC meeting after the protest, a Muslim parent explained that her community wanted the continued choice of an all-girls multicultural community school, otherwise many would feel compelled to look at what she saw as the unwelcome segregation of private faith schools.
As the SOC couldn't decide on Haggerston's future, the final decision will be taken by the government's Schools Adjudicator.
In The Socialist 6 April 2006: