On the 17th September over 80 people marched in Horsforth outraged by the lack of consultation involved in the decision for Horsforth School to become an academy. Only four parents were consulted on the decision, which hardly gives parents a chance to express what they feel.
Tanis Belsham-Wray, Aireborough & Horsforth Socialist Party
The march was organised by the local anti-cuts group, Horsforth Against Cuts and is the first march in the area in recent history. The march ended with a rally at the school with several speakers, including Socialist Party members Andy Smith (on behalf of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) and Lesley Connors (a parent of a pupil at the school), with teachers, parents and local activists explaining what becoming an academy would mean. Unfortunately, the school were unable to send someone to collect the petition with over 800 signatures of locals calling for the school to hold a democratic consultation, with the whole of the community, as the decision effects more than just the current parents and children.
John Garvani, a local Labour town councillor, explained that he would be putting forward a motion at the next meeting of Horsforth town council to oppose turning the school into an academy until a full and proper consultation has been conducted. Horsforth Against Cuts will be supporting this and members going along to lobby the town councils meeting this Thursday. The local Labour Party should go further and oppose the establishment of an academy during such a consultation.
Unfortunately this would bring them into conflict with Ed Miliband who spoke at the TUC last Tuesday of his support for academies. As ever, we repeat that the Socialist Party and the anti-cuts movement should stand full square behind any town or city councillors in Leeds that are prepared to vote against all cuts, whilst welcoming critically any votes against specific cuts and explaining the inadequecies of just voting against one attack when tens more are raining down on ordinary people.
The main concern that arose was why the school felt that the decision was kept under wraps if the academy scheme is as brilliant as the condems have been saying it is. Looking more deeply, they have a right to be concerned as although 1/3 of schools have improved since becoming academies, 1/3 has got worse. In fact, many of the academies which have improved have changed their admissions policies to allow more children in on academics rather than letting in the local children.
This is because academies don’t have to follow the same regulations that public schools have too. It allows private companies to come in and employ staff on lower working conditions, cut down on some more expensive services which some of the pupils use and to run the school on the bare basics, all to make a profit. Schools are there for helping children to learn and develop and should be protected from those who just want to make a profit.
The Socialist Party will continue to oppose the academisation of Horsforth school and others in the area alongside other activists in Horsforth Against Cuts and the rest of the anti-cuts movement.