Monday, 7 July 2008

Brighton schools - NOT FOR SALE!

Last week the fightback began to save a Brighton high school from privatisation. Plans are afoot to hand over control of Falmer High School in Moulsecoomb to a private 'sponsor' who will have dictator-like powers over the curriculum, admissions policy, staff contracts and our children's education. The school will no longer be run as part of the local, accountable and democratic education system and this Thursday Brighton & Hove City Council will vote to decide to begin this process.

The Socialist Party in Brighton, along with the teachers, lecturers, parents and campaigners who have formed the anti-academy group Brighton Schools - Not For Sale, urge anyone who is free to attend the lobby of the council this Thursday, 10 July, 3pm at Hove Town Hall. An online petition has also been created and you can add your name by following this link:

The academy will be a privately-run school funded by taxpayers' money with initial costs around £30 million. This money is ready to be spent on the school right now but is only released when the local council is bribed into handing control over to a private individual. In this case that private individual is Rod Aldridge, ex-chairman and founder of outsourcing firm Capita. He also happens to have no experience of running a school and is a donor to Labour having given over £1 million to the party who came up with these academy schemes. So why does Mr Aldridge want to get his hands on our schools? Could it be that he can give school contracts to the company he still owns shares in? Check out this BBC link for a bit on his background:

The academy plan mainly consists of knocking down the old buildings and replacing them with a new structure and is being pushed forwards as "the only hope" for pupils. Yet there is the government's own Building Schools for the Future programme also offering money for schools but without the need to privatise them. Why can't the council apply for this instead?

The main worry for campaigners is that parents, residents and staff are not being given a ballot on this issue so that they can decide themselves whether they want an academy. In the first pathetic attempt at a consultation only 10 leaflets were sent out to each feeder school for over well over 1000 parents! The campaign group is demanding that a ballot for parents, teachers and local residents is conducted so that their voice can be heard. Last years' attempts by the Labour-run council to privatise our council homes concluded with a ballot that resulted in an overwhelming vote against the sell-off. This was a campaign with many similarities to the academy plan as it involved bribing tenants with money for repairs if it accepted a private landlord. It was a campaign in which the Socialist Party played a crucial role in getting the full story out to tenants who voted to protect our democratically-controlled public housing for future generations. The same can be done again to save Falmer High School.

A public meeting has been organised by the group for residents, parents and staff at Moulsecoomb Leisure Centre, 4pm on Wednesday 17 July. Come along and help to protect our children's education.