Guest blog by Guestropod
Anyone following the Kensal Rise Library correspondence on Wembley Matters LINK would be struck by two things: 1. the level of interest in the matter 2. the desire to communicate that interest and the related opinions to councillors, with the implicit expectation that the elected representatives would respond to them.
A similar level of interest and a similar expectation of a response to their concerns also seems to have characterised the involvement of Copland students in their opposition to the dismantling of their school and its takeover by the Ark academy business. This opposition was ultimately expressed in a letter which followed up a petition signed by well over 400 students and addressed to Brent Council's Head of Children and Families. Apparently, none of these students had participated in any similar action before and many would have been unaware that it was possible for them to do so. I would imagine that the experience was worth a term's worth of Citizenship lessons.
The original petition was ‘lost’ by Brent council and further copies had to be provided. A copy of the follow-up letter went to every Brent councillor. LINK
Out of the 60+ councillors who were sent the letter, I gather that a grand total of 3 (THREE) managed the courtesy of a reply, (2 Lib Dem, 1 Labour).
Anyone teaching in Brent at the 2010 General Election would have been impressed by the level of interest shown by 6th form students keen to use their vote for the first time. The mock election staged at Copland and organised by Mr Allman was supported by local and national politicians and enthusiasm for the breath of fresh air and honesty which Nick Clegg appeared to be offering was palpable. Within a few months most of these students were in further education. And grants were tripled. A more effective way of disillusioning a generation of new voters is impossible to imagine.
None of those kids who signed the Copland anti-academy petition have the vote, so presumably they can be ignored. Those Copland 6th formers who voted Lib Dem in 2010 did have the vote, but they were ignored and betrayed anyway. Those contributing to the Kensal Rise Library discussion on Wembley Matters and elsewhere no doubt all have the vote, probably used it last time and are likely to vote again on May 22nd. It’s good to see the faith they seem to still have in the democratic process and in their elected representatives’ responsiveness.
I would hope that Copland's current and past students could share that faith. But I can also imagine (and sympathise with) the reasons why they might not.