Friday 26 April 2019


From the Brent branch of the National Education Union (NEU)

UPDATE: The Call-In will be heard by the Scrutiny Committee on Thursday May 9th 

Brent NEU Officers have written in the strongest terms to Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, after the Labour Cabinet voted to support a ‘Free’ School on the Roundwood Youth Centre site. ‘Free’ schools are academies and part of this Government’s privatisation of state education programme.

Brent NEU had been repeatedly assured that there were no plans for any more ‘Free’ Schools. Cllr Butt had also publicly assured the local Labour Party of this when the idea was first mooted. Yet that is exactly what is happening – with Brent actually being the ‘sponsor’. It is to be run by Brent Special Academies Trust. 

Now the decision has been called in by a group of councillors led by Cllr Jumbo Chan stating that the Cabinet has not fully explored options for a Local Authority controlled school to provide alternative provision at the site of the Roundwood Centre or other potential school sites in the borough such as the Roe Green Strathcona site.

Brent NEU understands that local Headteachers are opposed to a ‘Free’ School, and that some of them had initially been approached to take on Roundwood as an extension of their own school. We have been told that these approaches had not been taken up. We have formally requested, under FoI, copies of any correspondence relating to this as we do not believe this was fully pursued by the Local Authority.

Brent NEU fully understand and support the need for more provision for students who are temporarily excluded from school, but strongly maintain that such provision should be under LA control and not as a ‘Free’ School run by a Labour council and an academy trust. 
It has been national Labour Party policy since last year not to support any new academies or ‘Free’ Schools and, when in power, to allow academies to return to the Local Authority. Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, reinforced this message when he spoke to the NEU annual conference in Liverpool on 16th April. A motion was also passed at the Brent 
Central Labour Party meeting on 18tht April condemning this latest move by Brent Council. 

Hank Roberts, Brent NEU President and National Executive member said:
Has no-one at the top of the Council watched the Panorama programmes exposing the iniquitous practices of academies? I am sure they have, yet Cllr Butt and Cllr Sandra Kabir, who led the privatisation of The Village school, continue to support the privatisation of our schools supported by Gail Tolley, Strategic Director, Children and Young People. Instead they should follow the lead of other Labour Councils who are promoting the party line such as Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Camden and Redbridge to name but a few.
Editor’s Note: At the last Cabinet meeting when the free school proposal was approved local Labour Party member Graham Durham interrupted the proceedings to condemn the Labour Council’s move to invite potential sponsors to set up an alternative provision free school at the Roundwood Centre:


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