|The outdoor space currently enjoyed by Sulivan children|
On Saturday I will be moving a motion calling for the revision of Green Party Education Policy in the light of the enormous changes brought about by the Coalition government.
Down in Fulham in South West London a battle is raging which epitomises these issues. Sulivan Primary is a local authority school rated Good with outstanding features by Ofsted. It is a small school with a form entry of 45 children. It is strongly supported by its parents who rate its care for pupils, accessibility for SEN and disabled children, and the amazing learning opportunities provided by its large play areas and outdoor science laboratory.
Just the kind of child-centred community school that we in the Green Party would like to be the norm.
|Save Our Sullivan campaigners at Hammersmith Town Hall|
In a further twist it wants to close Sulivan and transfer pupils to New Kings School, a one form entry school which is committed to become a privately sponsored academy.
At present there is spare capacity at Sulivan (overall 89% full but at capacity in younger classes) the closure/merger would actually reduce the overall number of school places at a time when an increase in demand is projected. The merged school would have a 2 form entry (60 children) against the current joint entry of 75.
Closure of Sulivan will enable the borough to divest itself of a local authority school and will satisfy Gove with another academy and free school to add to the empire which is accountable only to him.
Not surprisingly teachers and parents have risen up against this proposal and organised themselves into a effective lobbying force. At a recent meeting about the closure, attended by parents, teachers, residents and governors there was standing room only with the attendance estimated at between 250 and 300.
An account of the meeting can be found HERE . Among the contributions was one by the mother of a child with impaired mobility who said that the single storey Sulivan was accessible for her child. She feared segregation at the Victorian New Kings, even if a lift were fitted.
A child bravely got up in front of the panel and large audience and, praising her headteacher and teacher several times, said that she loved he school and that she and other children would do everything they could to save it. She got huge applause from the audience but only a 'we'll bear what you say in mind' from the chair.
A teacher pressed the question, 'Please explain – with evidence and examples - how you know that this amalgamation will provide a better education for the children.' and never got a satisfactory answer. Because of course this is not a decision that will be made on educational grounds but one made to further Gove's agenda of dismantling democratically controlled and accountable schools and opening the system up for privatisation and eventual profit making.
The dismissal of parents' views (unless they are parents who want to set up free school), ignoring of children's interests, and undemocratic procedures and sham consultations are all consistent with what teachers, parents and governors are experiencing with converter academies and forced academies.
The Green Party must stand alongside local campaigners on these issues.
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