Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Protesting against the proposed Academy school in Battersea.

Posted in Protesting against the new Bolingbroke Academy in affluent Battersea by sheelanagigcomedienne on December 6, 2010

Protesting the new Academy in Battersea

Photo: Wandsworth Save Our Schools received a positive reception from the public when they protested outside the ARK consultation on Saturday, 5th December 2010

Here we are outside the Northcote Library protesting against the proposal to establish a new ‘Free’ school – the Bolingbroke Academy on the site of the old hospital with the 13,000,000 purchase price being paid by Wandsworth Council. This is the same Council that claims that there are enough secondary school places available in the Borough. Indeed, there ARE places available locally in Chestnut Grove although apparently only 6 pupils from Northcote actually attend it. The truth is that this vociferous group of affluent parents from this  area of the Borough do NOT want their children to attend the existing schools but have organised to get one in this area with the proposition that it takes pupils from 4 feeder schools – Belleville, Honeywell, Wix’s and Highview.  They are so out of touch with life for the rest of us that they propose this on the assumption that 4 feeder schools is the norm in London!

PRESS RELEASE from WANDSWORTH SAVE OUR SCHOOLS.

Wandsworth plan to give away £13 million+

Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has criticised Wandsworth Council for having over £100 Million sitting in its bank account, doing nothing.

At the same time, school buildings are in desperate need of modernisation and repair and the Council is planning to shut York Gardens Library and Community Centre, serving an area with considerable deprivation, saving a measly £100,000.

Wandsworth Save Our Schools says that it is, therefore, staggering that Wandsworth Council is reported to be paying £13 million to buy Bolingbroke Hospital for conversion to a school.  This might make sense if Wandsworth had done a proper assessment of need and were going to operate the school. However, this is not the case.  It is being done in response to the demands of a few, affluent parents who do not want to send their children to mix with children at other local schools.  Only 1% of 11-15 year olds in the Northcote ward attend Chestnut Grove School, which is only a mile away and rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Furthermore, the Council will be handing the building over, at peppercorn rent, to ARK and the Neighbourhood Schools Campaign, thereby giving up any influence or powers of intervention if things go wrong.

ARK has little experience in running schools in this country, opening its first academy as recently as 2006, and is a charity established by venture capitalists. However,  Wandsworth SOS do not challenge the motivation of ARK but wonder how their claim that “ARK Schools was established in 2004 to help break the cycle of underachievement in schools in the UK’s most challenging urban areas” fit in with the Neighbourhood Schools Campaign, whose core is an extremely privileged group of people.

This begs the question then: Why is it that Cllr Lister has more faith in ARK and the NSC than he has in his own officers?  He has said that he welcomes “free” schools to Wandsworth and is clearly willing to spend our money on them.  Given the affluence of the “Tween the Commons” area and the research that has shown that “free” schools in Sweden have increased social segregation, is Cllr Lister supporting a segregated elite?  At a meeting on Sunday, Jane Ellison MP correctly claimed that, in order to give parents choice, there needs to be surplus places.  However, she did not expand on how the country could afford to fund the number of surplus place required to give ALL parents choice.

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With the great upheaval in school and education we need  this time the a public meeting with Wandsworth Council and all interested parties on the issue of admissions, academies etc and the notion of parental choice. The parents pushing for the new school claim that they only want a secular school. Of course, they like many others are NOT also campaigning against religious schools which greatly reduce choice and are NOT inclusive schools.They accept the status quo and will NOT SPEAK OUT AGAINST RELIGIOUS APARTHEID. They want to be perceived as nice, tolerant people, righteous folk. Bloody hypocrites.

The existence of religious schools are anathema to education, community cohesion and provide a narrow view of education and a dogmatic presentation of their supernatural beliefs. Yet the very existence of them is so often the elephant in the room. This blind spot is common to the politicians, teacher’s unions and parents. The demand for more religious schools will expand and be encouraged to include all sorts of sects.  Having school children educated separately according to their parents supernatural beliefs should not be pandered to and is madness. I have to have faith that, in time, good sense will prevail and that religiously segregated schooling will be seen as bad and dangerous.

I have asked Tony Tuck, Chair of the Battersea Society, if they would host such a public meeting. As we are generally folk of an ‘uncertain’ age it would be a good way of attracting younger people/parents as well as fulfilling the role of impartially representing policy and planning in Battersea.  We’ll see.

Update December 2014. The Academy went ahead and there never was a public meeting on the education proposals on Academies and Free Schools. The policy of free schools and academies has been a disaster and and disgusting waste of money.  Nearly half of all primary schools in England are C of E schools – where’s the parental choice for those who do not want a church run school for their children. Academies and free schools are yet another attempt at imitating the privileged private, fee paying schools which continues to school the wealthiest and most privileged people in Britain especially those in Government and in business.

The Bolingbroke Academy is one as you can see from its websiteThe Bolingbroke There is no mention of its history as a hospital that Caroline Ganley MP for Battersea  was so instrumental in getting it established as a hospital and where she died. I have blogged about her as she is one of my heroines.   Caroline Ganley MP Battersea 1945-1951

bolingbroke hospital

To keep up to date check out The Anti-Academies Alliance  Anti Academies Alliance   with the caveat that it will make you very angry when you discover the terrible waste of money they have been to set up, the establishment of schools with very few enrolments, the pathetic performance by many of the them, the forcing of primary school and secondary schools to become academies against the wishes of parents and community but welcomed by heads with enhanced salaries.

The Anti Academies Alliance is a campaign composed of unions, parents, pupils, teachers, councillors and MPs.

Academies are schools that are run by a private sponsor. They are outside of the local family of schools, not accountable to the local community, allowed to set their own curriculum and terms and conditions for staff. We oppose the government’s Academies programme and believe we need ‘a good school for every child’.

The government initiated PriceWaterhouseCooper Academies 5th Annual report concludes that “there is insufficient evidence to make a definitive judgement about the Academies as a model for school improvement”.

Here are some of the latest stories Death Knell for the Autonomous Academy? Parents Campaign at Inkersall Primary – Hands Off!  Millions Wasted on Unproven School Improvement Experiment

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