Lewisham Bridge is a two form entry primary school. The Council plan to build a 3-16 year school incorporating a one form entry primary school with a new four form secondary school. Despite initial assurances that the school would be a local authority community school, Mayor Bullock has agreed that the school go to ‘competition’ to the highest bidder.
Leathersellers (via Prendergast School) have been given exemption from competition and have put in their bid to run the new school at Lewisham Bridge. Despite the fact that the consultation for the new school has not started the Council have already agreed that from September 2008, there will be a one form entry for parents seeking to send their children to a local school.
This is privatisation by another name.
Why is this bad news for Lewisham Bridge?
Employment – If they are reducing the number of classes at the school, this could mean redundancies. Staff will be employed directly by Leathersellers and therefore may not be part of current national pay structures and conditions of service.
- Governance – No accountability – Leathersellers will appoint governors with only token parent and staff representation.
- Admissions – the sponsors can decide their own admissions. In order to get better results which children do you think they will want at their school? Local Authority schools have a statutory duty to admit children with special educational needs (SEN). Prendergast School currently has one of the lowest percentage of children with these needs.
- Curriculum – the sponsors have enormous freedom over the curriculum – this could mean the end of a comprehensive curriculum where students have a broad choice of subjects rather than a limited diet of courses dictated by the needs of big business.
If the spread of Trusts and Academies continues, we will witness the break-up of local authority schooling in Lewisham.
Don’t give away our school!
Lewisham Bridge is a well-run school with happy successful children – allow the staff, parents and pupils to build on that and keep the school under the control of the local authority.
Leathersellers Livery Company (Trustees of Prendergast and Colfes) has been granted exemption from the competition requirements. They have the backing of the Secretary of State for Education: “[The Secretary of State] was encouraged that the Leathersellers Livery Company indicated they would consider other options for strengthening links with Lewisham schools in the future …. [He] was satisfied that the Leathersellers have a proven track record in Lewisham which suggests that their support for both Crofton and the new school would be a positive measure” Source: CYP Report to Mayor & Cabinet 11th July 2007
Socialist Party councillors, Chris Flood and Ian Page submitted a motion that called on Councillors to keep the new school under local authority control. Instead the council chamber, by a narrow majority, agreed to hand over our assets and the future of our children’s education to an unaccountable business. The Council has been boasting that it was recently awarded the status of a four star authority which gives it the right to build new schools without seeking exemption from competition.
Will they now stand up and agree to run the new school or do they have no confidence in their ability to provide high quality education for the children of Lewisham?
It doesn’t have to be this way…
Aske’s hoped to win a bid in a competition forced on Haringey Council but lost – the Council put in its own bid and won the competition. Sir Steve Bullock received his knighthood for “services to local government” – instead of handing over local government services let’s call on him to stand up and keep Lewisham Bridge a local community school.
Lewisham badly needs a new school. The government is forging ahead with its ruthless programme to privatise schools: The Government has made it clear that it wants all new schools to open as self-governing schools. Indeed there is an implied threat that Lewisham will only receive funding for a new school if it agrees to move forward with the Government’s Programme.
VT Group, a ship building company, have been awarded the BSF contract in Lewisham. The BSF programme in Lewisham will have a contract value expected to be more than £400m. Over the next 25 years including the initial capital expenditure of £210 million on school refurbishment and rebuilding. VT’s share of the overall contract is 50%. This means that they will make millions out of education and have a 50% stake in the running of our schools.
Parents and teachers at Lewisham Bridge demand:
- No to sham consultations.
- A new school but not at the expense of Lewisham Bridge.
- Childrens’s needs before council budgets.
- No cuts, no closures, no compulsory redundancies.
- Make every school a great school!
- Stop privatisation – keep our schools under public ownership.Keep schools under the control of the local authority, accountable to parents, teachers and children.