Following my story just before Christmas on Michael Gove's controversial friend Katherine Birbalsingh's announcement that she has acquired a secondary free school site in Wembley Park LINK, Brent teacher unions have issued the following joint statement:
The joint teachers' unions in
Brent are very concerned that Katharine Birbalsingh, having failed to get
premises first in Lambeth and then in Wandsworth due to parents, teachers and
the community campaigning against, is aiming to open her 'free school' the
'Michaela community school' in the Wembley Park area.
It is uncertain where the proposed site is and there is little information on her website as to consultation with the community with the promised meetings for parents not advertised. Birbalsingh has said that ICT would not be taught at her school because the emphasis would be on maths, English and foreign languages, not skills. Birbalsingh has already been accused of wasting taxpayers' money by parents and teachers in Lambeth and Wandsworth. Each time money has been spent on PR, consultants, website design, leaflets and letters, hire of halls for public meetings, etc. The Department for Education have refused to give the information on how much has been spent saying that this information will be given when the school opens in September 2013! She has even appointed herself as the 'headmistress' according to the website – appointed by whom?
BTA Secretary said,:
Planning for school places has to be done in collaboration with the local community. Putting this school in the Wembley Park area will directly compete with our existing local schools, including the ARK academy, Preston Manor, Copland, Wembley High and the Crest academies (who are currently building new schools with increased capacity) and it is not where the shortage of school place are.
Evidence from ‘free’ schools has shown that they lead to increased social segregation, lower attainment and the Breckland Free school in Suffolk is the first being run for profit with more to come. These are not the kind of schools that will improve the attainment of any pupils except those she decides to 'select'. The free school movement is part of the plan to privatise our services and will worsen education. We will campaign strongly against such a school.
Shane Johnschwager, NASUWT Branch Secretary and National Executive Member said:
Brent schools are in the top 10 per cent in the country. This was achieved through the collaborative community approach to state education that Free School’s seek to undermine. All those who live in and send their kids to school in Brent because of traditional Brent Values should oppose this school..
Hank Roberts, ATL Branch Secretary and National President said:
We should pay serious attention to the fact that Birbalsingh and her proposals have been rejected by two communities in South London. Now she is trying it in North West London. We in Brent need to send her packing too.