Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Brent teachers' leader hits out at Ark Academies

Hanks Roberts, Brent Branch Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has circulated a hard-hitting letter to union members at Copland Community School condemning the plans of the Interim Executive Board, supported by Brent Labour Council, and the DfE, to hand over Copland Community School to Ark Academies.

He says:
So they propose ARK, but don’t worry, there will be a 'consultation'. Really? At the meeting on Monday, to ensure no awkward questions were asked, no questions were allowed at all.
Grahame Price, Chair of the IEB, told us that there was “a strong steerage from the DfE to become an academy.” When he finally agreed to meet union reps after numerous requests in the summer term, he said that there was no choice - the school would become an academy. This was necessary, he said, to turn the school into a good school.
We pointed out Grahame Price's school had been transformed from a "failing" into a “good” school, and it was a Trust not an academy! Clearly becoming an academy is not necessary to being a good school. Equally, being an academy is no guarantee of not being in special measures – Crest academies in Neasden being our nearest example.
If Brent wanted to do something useful for the pupils and staff at the school why haven't they sought to get back any of the money taken from the school by Sir Alan Davies et al?
ARK is run by the ex-joint MD of a News International subsidiary, Lucy Heller, and a handful of multimillionaires including Stanley Fink, Treasurer of the Conservative party, and Paul Marshall, the biggest donor to the LibDems. It was founded by, among others, Arki Busson, a playboy who modestly named the initials of this "charity" after himself - Absolute Return for Kids.
The main aim in life of these hedge fund speculators is increasing their already substantial millions. Any promises from this lot are worthless. When they wanted to build an Academy on the Wembley Park sports ground they promised that local kids would still be able to use the pitches. Needless to say all pitches are now hired on a strictly business footing, with no non-commercial community provision.
ARK staff work longer hours, having to undertake at least an additional 370 directed hours each year. ARK management is even less consultative and collegiate than our present management. Overuse of learning walks is standard practice in ARK academies. Many staff have left or are leaving what was formerly Kensal Rise Primary, now ARK Franklin, because of the restrictive curriculum, expected total uniformity and no creative freedom allowed. Teachers in other ARK academies agree.
A national newspaper is currently investigating concerns over ARK's exclusions policy and admissions in general. Ironically even Ofsted agrees; in their report on Evelyn Grace Academy it states, 'the number of fixed-term exclusions is high relative to secondary schools nationally.' And this ARK academy is judged as only 'satisfactory'.
If anyone consciously supports Copland being taken over by ARK as part of Gove's academy programme they must be bARKing!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Recently opened an Ark Academy in Redbridge - Isaac Newton, serious concerns about school. Trying to produce mini Michael Goves, long school days and lots of homework, lots of detentions, focus on academic performance and going to university. Lots of kids buckling under pressure number of referrals to child health mental services. No accountability to parent or community, leadership team mainly white, students mainly Asian.