Fight to stop Leathersellers is not over!

As you may have seen, in the summer the Mayor decided to approve the takeover of Lewisham Bridge Primary School by Leathersllers.

He did this in spite of the fact that over 100 parents expressed their concern over the proposal by signing a petition which stated that, above all else parents’ views have not been taken into account.

I saw the Mayor at the Country Fayre on Sunday and I told him that there is a significant number of parents who feel as though our views are being ignored. We have had at least 3 consultations several public meetings, focus groups etc where parents have expressed their concerns for the plan. Each time we are ignored and the plan moves one step further to completion.

I was told that I have mis-represented the issue that this is not privatisation, the new school won’t be a private school. Excuse me Mr Mayor, but I know what a private school is and I’m well aware that this is not a proposal to turn the school into a fee-paying school. But giving away a public asset to a private company used to be called privatisation – maybe they have a new word for it in New Labour. We have several examples of privatisation: Group 4 put in charge of prisons, but kept losing their prisoners! The tragedy of the rail accidents caused by the incompetence of the rail companies. Extortionate charges from energy companies!

I asked the Mayor if he would attend a meeting of parents and teachers at the school where we can air our feelings and get a chance to hear his opinions on the matter. I think we should now put pressure on him to do just that.

Parents have real concerns which it is his duty, as Mayor to address:

1.) Leathersellers is an unaccountable body. They control the governing body. What recourse do parents have if we don’t agree with their strategy for the running of the school?

2.) Why are the land and buildings being given away to Leathersellers?

3.) How has the plans for new school affected recruitment for the current academic year?

4.) The site doesn’t seem to be big enough for such a school. Indeed the Secretary of State is being asked to waive the necessity of providing playing fields on the site because there is no room for them.

5.) There is a plan to decant the school to the Mornington Centre in New Cross. How will that work exactly? How will children and staff be transported there? How will affect the start and end times for the day? How will it affect the many excellent after-school clubs (football, rugby etc.)? How will it affect the after-school club and Breakfast Club? How will nursery children be transported to and from school?

It’s really important that we don’t give up – we are not figures on a page to be moved about by the Education officers at Laurence House. We are real people, this is our children’s future, all of our children!

Eleanor Davies (parent at Lewisham Bridge)

3 Responses to “Fight to stop Leathersellers is not over!”

  1. Kirstie Paton Says:

    I was also at the County Fayre at Cornmill Gardens last week and spoke to the Mayor. I was shocked at how little he seemed to care about the impact his decision will have on the future of children in Lewisham. He kept on saying what a wonderful school Prendergast is and how they have delivered great education to the children of Lewisham, far superior to anything the council could achieve.

    But not all the children – Prendergast School until recently ‘interviewed’ it prospective students – a well known method of back-room selection. They have been forced through new admissions rules to abandon this, but everyone knows that they don’t take a diverse mix of children. For a start off, they exclude boys! If you compare the number of children who have special educational needs with other schools, they have many less. This is because they are not required, unlike local authority schools to educate children who have special educational needs.

    Their other great contribution to the education of children of Lewisham is to run the fee paying school, Colfes – hardly an example of equality of opportunity! If you haven’t got the money you can’t attend – as simple as that.

    I understood that the principle that ‘education is a right, not a privledge’ was one of the bedrocks of Labour Party policy. Clearly Mayor Bullock is happy to abandon any adherence to socialist policies such as the goal of offering every child an equal chance to reach their potential.

    I am still amazed that this Local Authority who recieve taxes and were elected by us to run education has simply abandoned the job! If they are so useless then why don’t they resign on mass and let people who are committed do the job.

    The Mayor in our discussion admitted that the Council was selling (giving?) our assets away and against the wishes of the vast majority of residents and parents. When I asked him why the new school couldn’t be built on the Ladywell Pool site, when the new pool is up and running, he fell silent. Further questioning revealed that the Council intend to sell the land off for housing – more ‘affordable’ housing that working families can’t afford no doubt.

    There is a solution. Lewisham Bridge stays and the new secondary school is built on the site of Ladywell pool once the new pool is up and running. This would be sensible, this would be in the interests of the whole community.

    Why won’t he do this? Because the Mayor and the Labour Party he supports are so in awe of the neo-liberal idea that the private sector can do it better and cheaper they just keep on blindly, even when it is deeply unpopular. Surely the crisis of the banking system this week tells us one thing – these people that Labour have been sucking up to are greedy parasites who will suck the last bit of blood dry. What sort of sick world do we live in when the directors of Meryll Lynch et al who messed up big time, still walk away from the debris with 26 million dollars in their pockets!

    I think it’s time we told them – hands off – we own and run our schools thank you. We will take your private schools back into public ownership and we will plan education so that all of our children get the chance to flourish, not just the ones who happen to be ahead of the game.

  2. Melissa Says:

    I take it the fight is now well and truly over as I hear that the school will close this Easter.

  3. Eleanor Says:

    I still don’t think we should give up. Although it is 11th hour the planning application has not yet been given approval. Major issues have been pointed out in this letter that a number of people have sent to Lewisham Council. I have posted the objections to the home page of this website. If you wish to send in your objection it’s not too late – the deadline is 18th March.


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