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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 January 2011

Bankers' "Free school" excludes poorer pupils

A PROPOSED 'free school'/academy in Wandsworth, south London, run by 25 bankers working for top City firms, has displayed blatant class discrimination by excluding children from poorer neighbourhoods.

Bolingbroke Academy is due to be built on a former hospital site. Leading City firms such as Rothschild, Credit Suisse, CitiGroup, Barclays Capital, Coutts, Normura, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and RBS are using Con-Dem education minister Michael Gove's flagship academies policy to create an elite school.

This academy's sponsors have decided to use feeder schools for its intake. These schools will be in some of the most well-heeled areas of Battersea. But one nearer school, based around a council estate and with wage levels about half those in the feeder schools, is excluded.

At a time when huge education cuts are threatened, the academy could suck resources away from the rest of the education authority, Tory-controlled Wandsworth.

For a start, buying the hospital site will cost the council 13 million with more public cash being spent on its conversion to a school and 6 million yearly for running the academy. All this just to pass a school over to bankers - as if bank bosses haven't gained enough in recent years!

So far, Gove's Department for Education has approved many such projects. But as Martin Powell-Davies, NUT National Executive member for Inner London, recently commented on the government's academy proposals: "most schools quite rightly refuse the offer."

"Any financial advantage that new academies might make from the move would come at the expense of the central local authority budget, reducing their ability to support other schools and families. Governors are being bribed by the government to try to break-up comprehensive local authority schooling.

"Chains of unaccountable education businesses will end up replacing elected local authorities - which is what the government intends."

This barefaced bias is typical of what will be seen if the Con-Dems get their way. Teachers and parents must fight these plans.


No to academies!

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