‘DEFEND STATE SCHOOLS!’ – ‘Trusts’ roll-out slammed

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Teachers occupying the Wembley Park Sports Ground  against a City Academy say No to privately run schools
Teachers occupying the Wembley Park Sports Ground against a City Academy say No to privately run schools

‘WE WILL never give up state education,’ a teachers union leader vowed yesterday, after the announcement of plans to remove more schools from elected local authority control.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls announced the ‘first wave’ of ‘Trust’ schools that will have control of schools’ assets, staffing and the admission of children.

The Trusts will be run in partnership with ‘outside bodies’, including charities and private companies.

The Trusts can run groups of schools.

In Bedfordshire, for example, three lower schools, three middle schools and one secondary school, Sharnbrook Upper School, will be run in a partnership with Unilever and Capita, as well as Bedford College of Further Education and Cranfield University.

Parkside Federation (Coleridge Community College and Parkside Community College schools) will be run in partnership with the City of Cambridge Education Foundation.

The government also announced there will be an incentive of up to £300,000 for ‘high-performing ’ schools to merge with their ‘weak’ neighbours.

Thirty schools – seven individual schools and 23 in groups or federations – are involved in the first 13 Trusts being launched this term.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) responded that: ‘Dismantling the local authority family of schools would be a disaster for youngsters and communities alike.’

Hank Roberts, a member of the NUT national executive and the national executive of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), told News Line: ‘Brown is carrying on with Blair’s privatisation agenda. That’s exactly what Foundation Trusts means.

‘ “Linking up’’ is twaddle and camouflage for the fundamental issue, which is that they want to privatise the management of the whole of the state education system.’

Speaking about the reports that some universities will also be involved in the running of the school trusts, he said: ‘It is an absolute disgrace any college or university gets involved in assisting the government’s privatisation agenda.

‘They should concentrate their efforts on the education of their own students.’

Roberts and other teachers in Brent, north-west London, are resisting plans to build a privately-run City Academy by occupying the proposed site at Wembley Park Sports Ground, next to the new Wembley Stadium.

He said: ‘We will never give up the fight to stop an Academy being built on that sports ground, but also the fight for the whole of state education.

‘If they think they’re going to get away with it, they’ve got another think coming.

‘Direct action will form part of our strategy to defeat them.’

The leasees of Wembley Park Sports Ground have won a one-year extension to their lease, Roberts said, and the occupation will be suspended tomorrow when a celebration is being planned.

A demonstration is also due to take place on Saturday.