Parents protest against school privatisation
Local parents, residents, teachers and campaigners staged a protest against school privatisation today. The group are concerned that all new schools have to be academies, which means they are handed over to a private company or charity trust to run, and that Cambridgeshire Local Authority are actively encouraging all schools, new and existing, to leave local authority control. In Cambridgeshire nearly all secondary schools are now academies and there are fears that primary schools will be pushed to convert as well. (acadamies receive more funded using a formula that top slices money out f the existing budget of LEA schools)
The protest was staged ahead of the County Council meeting on 29 January where the County’s Cabinet is expected to agree to hand the site in Green End Road, which until very recently operated as a county run primary or infant school, to the private company Active Learning Trust to open a 210 place new primary school.. The final decision on the handover will be made by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education in Westminster though.
The protestors cut a cake iced to say ‘our children are not for sale” after it has emerged that the extra funding needed for the new school in East Chesterton would not come from the Department of Education but would have to be found by Cambridgeshire County Council through topslicing its own school’s Budget.
Anna Gordon, a local parent who is applying for a primary place in East Chesterton for September 2013 for her son, said:
“We want our schools to be accountable to the public and so the county council should stand up to Michael Gove’s undemocratic policies and demand that the Local Authority is allowed to run new schools. The new school is bound by company law to be run in the interest of the company not the pupils. The tax payer will have to fund the new school at a higher rate but won’t get to decide how the money is spent, creating a system that is set up to undermine the remaining local authority schools.”
Clare Blair,a longstanding governor and chair of governors at a community primary, said:
“The rushed process in East Chesterton has also shown the flaws in the current system which means that all decisions on schools have been taken away from local people and local accountability and taken instead in Westminster. It has made a political football out of children’s education when all that parents’ want is a good local school under local authority control. We will continue to say that until politicians start to listen and act.”
Anuj Dawar, another East Chesterton parent applying for a primary place for His daughter said:
“It is undemocratic and contradicts the governments spin about choice and localism that the council are refusing us the choice of a local authority community school.”