Thursday, 6 March 2014

Copland students challenge councillors over ARK forced academisation

Copland students on the picket line
Around 400 Copland school students have signed a petition* to Brent councillors over the forced academisation of their school. A headteacher from the Ark stable has already been appointed. Copland was the last non-academy/non-faith secondary school left in the London Borough of Brent.

The petition states:

We believe it unfair that we have not been listened to regarding the future of our school. We do not want our school to be linked to Ark Academies, We believe that school requires more resources and more permanent teachers.
As Brent Green Party's spokesperson on Children and Families I fully support  the students' petition. It is not just school students who are denied a voice on forced academies but also school staff, parents and the local community.

This is the letter that accompanied the petition:

Dear Councillors,

I am a student at Copland School and I amk sending this petition on behalf of hundreds of students. Probably everyone in the school would have signed it but we did not have permisison to go around classes with it. As soon as Ofsted visited our school last year we collected a petition of hundreds of names and handed it to Brent Council. No-one admitted seeing the petition and so it was ignored, We have now collected hundreds of more of signatuires and this time we have photocopied it and are sending it to every councillor.

I am not including my name and address for I know that our teacheres have contacted all of the councillors but have received very few replies so you will probably not reply to me either and I am frightened of what would happen if ARK Academy found out that I write this letter.

I have some questions:

1. Is it fair that our last petition was ignored?
2.Will you do anything about this petition?
3. Is it fair that staff were sacked at Christmas and now we have no mentoring department at Copland?
4. Is it fair that staff were sacked at Christmas and now our school library is often closed? It even closes at lunch!
5. I know that Brent Council have closed down libraries in Brent. Is it fair that those of my fellow students who have no internet at home cannot do their homework?
6. Is it fair that over their holidays many of our teachers have been sent letters saying they will not be needed next year because there are no students to do their subjects and we will be told that we cannot do certain subjects next year because there will be no teachers for these subjects?
7. Is it fair that Ark Academy is already deciding which subjects we will not be allowed to study (Business, Drama, Media, Music, Photography etc etc)?
8. We are not interested in councillors saying that they want to do the best for us. Prove it. We have made it clear all along that we do not want to become an academy. Support us, our teachers and our parents to keep our school a Community School.
9. Why when our teachers went on strike for 6 days and we joined them on the picket line did we only see one councillor there to support us? We want to thank that one councillor.
10. Will you make it clear in public that you will help us to stop our school from being forced to become an academy?


Copland Student

*Wembley Matters has seen copies of the petition and can vouch for its authenticity.


  1. Can anyone provide an example of any utterance produced in the last year by Pavey, Butt, an Ark employee or an Ofsted functionary which has the principled clarity and directness of this young person's enquiry?

  2. As a resident of Brent I also know that Brent Council has closed down libraries. It is a disgrace to do this in the 21st century. Do these people think that everyone owns a kindle and has the money to download books to the kindle. But to attack a school library is stooping to a new level. Don't they always remind teachers that they are in it for the children. Perhaps for the children of the rich.Shame on Brent Council

  3. I'm looking at these Brent students' questions on a blog which the councillors and Mr Butt and Mr Pavey can pretend they don't regularly read or get informed of the contents of, (though they obviously do). However, the questions and the petition have in this case been sent to the councillors themselves.
    As 'losing' a petition a second time would be to invite the kind of predictable Wildean quotes which would embarrass the most obtuse of local representatives (even in a non-election year), can we assume that this time the young people's admirable attempts to engage in the local democratic process will meet with appropriate reciprocation from the grown-ups?

  4. i think the simple answer to the first seven questions must be no

  5. Good on the one lonely councillor who supported them on the picket line - who was it?

  6. Well done to the students in not just giving up on their school. To get 400 signatures is excellent and this time they have copied everything and made sure it is in the public domain. A lesson learnt that you can't trust the politicians and that democracy has to be fought for.

  7. Lesley Gouldbourne7 March 2014 at 13:19

    Im very proud of these young people for standing up for what they believe to be right and having the determination to get their voice heard. This is the voice of the youth that Brent Council always says it wants to hear- so are they listening?

    1. Or even, dare we dream, answering?

  8. Well done students. I wish you every success.

  9. Seamus Sheridan8 March 2014 at 09:36

    I am one of the teachers who went on strike to stop Copland from becoming an academy. We always knew the parents and students were just as opposed to becoming an academy as we are. Teachers have shown the strength of their opposition by going on strike for 6 days. Why does Brent Council not give students and parents a vote? If parents and students voted to become an academy most teachers would respect their decision.

  10. If the Copland students' letter and petition were posted last week then we can assume the councillors have all now received their copies. Would it be possible to name on this blog the councillors who have and haven't had the courtesy to reply by, say, next Wednesday? If any of them are having any problem replying perhaps they could announce that in the meantime as well.

  11. I am a student at Copland, and it is quite unfair what is happening. We have not been consulted and we ought to be because what in this so called place where democracy exist, we our voice at all. What sort of example is that supposed to set?

  12. Here are the answers to your questions.
    1. No
    2. No
    3. No
    4. No
    5. No
    6. No
    7. No
    8. We can't prove it because we have sold out to the Tories. We can only get money to improve your school if we agree to turn it into an academy.
    9. We cannot join your picket line because it will look bad for us.
    10.No; because we would look like slimy bar stewards who would undermine the Tories in the council
    Mohammed Butt
    Michael Pavey

    1. An admirable outbreak of candour. Well done , councillors!
      But that's only 2 of you. We await all the other councillors' replies with interest.
      ( Your answer to 8, though, is mistaken. The decision to rebuild the school was made months ago and is unconnected with Ark. Unless you know something we don't know, of course).

  13. Judicial Review has to be held so everyone in community can have a say in the future of A public asset.

    Simply giving to a hedge fund who are playing judge and jury is totally against the principal of democracy.

    It is obvious the only reason why hedge funds have become so powerful is there is no body who can touch them.

    Enough is enough make a stand against these undemocracritcally elected IEB's who are only interested in profiting for themselves.

    The first Councillor to actively say they will support and lead a Judicial Review has my vote.

    Councillors listen up !!!

  14. Copland Community is the last non academy, non faith, mixed Secondary School In Brent. I am one of the teachers who went on strike in order to prevent Copland Community School becoming a forced Academy. I am sickened and appauled at the lack of consultation shown by Brent Council towards students, parents, staff and other colleagues. As a resident of Brent, Why have parents and students not been allowed to have a democratic vote as to whether they would like Copland Community School to become an Academy? When will parents, students, teachers and others be allowed a voice? Shame on Mohammed Butt and Brent Council for not allowing Democracy to occur in Brent ......... When will you listen to parents, residents and the young people of Brent?

  15. Copland Community School is the last non Academy, non faith, mixed Secondary School in Brent.
    When will parents and students be given their Democratic right to vote about the future of Copland Community School rather than being forced into becoming an Academy?
    Shame on Mohammed Butt and Brent Council for not allowing residents, parents and students of Brent their right to vote about the future of their school..... Copland Community School.

  16. As a supply teacher who worked at Copland in the last Academic year, I think it is most important that parents, pupils and staff are duly listened to and proper consultations are undertaken before enforcing the Academy status for Copland School. The staff who I know have worked really hard over the years to improve Copland need to have their wishes respected in all these changes. Most importantly it is questionable for Brent Council to steer forward with these plans without providing opportunities for students and parents and teachers to vote on this very important matter. My hope is that parents, students and staff will be provided a fair chance in all these changes.

  17. Hope you had time over the weekend to post off your replies to those young concerned people, councillors.

    'Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the council told the Times he would be “more than happy” to sit down with these pupils to discuss the future of the school.' Kilburn Times online 11/03

    'Delia Smith, principal of Ark Academy, said ... a majority of parents supported the new plans.' (Kilburn Times online 11/03). In fact, as the Consultation Report (which Ark wrote!) states: 29 parents voted in favour of Ark's plans. There are roughly 1000 students at the school. Copland Maths department have confirmed that 29 out of 900-1500 does not constitute a majority (Wembley Ark's Secondary Maths department has not yet been the subject of a full Ofsted inspection).


  20. Start listening Councillor Butt and call for an immediate Judicial Review or else face the wrath come May

    All people want is à fair opportunity for all options to be considered and not simply the option that best benefits Ark