Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/448/5340
The Socialist 13 July 2006 |
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Parents win High Court victory
THE CAMPAIGN Against Academies in Merton (CAAM) has won an important
first victory in the High Court in the first of three test cases over
the government's divisive academy schools proposals.
Socialist Party member Rob MacDonald meets the press.
Photo Paul Mattsson
Led by parent and Socialist Party member Rob MacDonald, CAAM were
opposing Merton council's attempts to turn Tamworth Manor and Mitcham
Vale schools into academies and won the right to a judicial review. The
case was over whether the council and government had to have a funding
agreement to set up academy schools when they have the consultation
The funding agreement isn't just about money. It is like a contract
setting out all details of how the school will be run like admission,
discipline, and provisions for special educational needs. At Tamworth
Manor the controversial admission policy was put out well after the
consultation process ended. The judge likened this to giving the
sponsors a blank cheque.
Merton council's weak legal case basically blamed the government and
launched a political attack on Rob MacDonald as a Socialist Party member
and an 'ideologue'. And the fact that the local Socialist Party had a
good website was mentioned as if that meant we weren't parents! These
desperate red scare tactics were led by the ex-council leader and the
local Labour MP.
Rob said that there are two ideologies here - one for privatisation
and loss of democratic control and one for good quality, comprehensive
education for all.
The court case has raised the whole question of democracy. An
unelected minister Lord Adonis gives control of a school to an unelected
Tory Lord Harris, chief executive of Carpetright.
This highly controversial decision is pushed through the council by
cabinet rather than a full meeting. The School Organisation Committee
doesn't vote unanimously to close the schools so a unelected adjudicator
decides to do it. If all this doesn't work an unelected judge decides.
That's capitalist democracy.
The full judicial review may be harder to win as the government are
likely to join the battle. The courts are not the best area to fight
these battles but any upset for the academy programme would be positive.
Rob has got some legal aid but the community also has to pay towards
costs. So far the campaign has raised £4,000 mainly from trade unions
Unfortunately this leaves the two Merton schools in limbo. Some
parents are concerned and rightly just want some conclusion. Students
and teachers will break up for the holidays not knowing the future. This
is the council's fault - they tried to railroad plans through for
September 2006, despite many warnings from the campaign.
This case might have implications for other areas and could galvanise
If you'd like Rob or a speaker from the campaign to address your
union or campaign group please contact us.
For up-to-date information or to use the message board go to
No to two-tier education
ROB MACDONALD says: "All children should have quality comprehensive
education delivered by their nearest school. If schools need more
resources and help they should not have to be put out to private
concerns to release public money. The introduction of independent
schools is divisive. It will help create a two-tier education system.
"My son's school, Tamworth Manor, was not failing - it was showing
great improvement. They're trying to pull the ground from underneath it
through their eagerness to privatise our public services. It's not
working in the health service, or the railways and it won't work in