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Earlier this week, following a an imaginative and powerful campaign by Islington teachers and parents, ARK a charity run by a group of bankers and hedge fund speculators, pulled out of a year old scheme to create an independent but state-funded academy on the sites of Islington Green and Moreland schools.

ARK, CEA and the DfES are claiming this was because the academy plans had turned out to be too complicated. It is funny nothing was said about this publicly until this week. Indeed, only a couple of months ago on April 9, ARK representatives and the head of Islington Green School told a community consultation meeting how exciting the plans for the new school were. No mention there or at other consultation meetings with school staff more recently about complications.

What persuaded ARK to pull out was the campaign waged increasingly effectively by parents and teachers in recent months to defend comprehensive state education in Islington. We have held two successful public meetings, protested on the steps of the Town Hall, petitioned, maintained a high profile in the local and national press, planned to remake the Pink Floyd’s “Wall”, changing “Hey! Teachers, leave those kids alone” to “Hey! Bankers, leave those kids alone” and most recently demonstrated outside ARK HQ in Westminster with two fat cats! Partly as a result of our campaign Moreland governors voted a fortnight ago to reject the academy proposals and its millionaire sponsors. This, perhaps, was the final straw.

We have won a battle but the war goes on. Already, there are suggestions that a new sponsor is being lined for a new 11-19 academy on the Islington Green site. The fight to stop St Mary Magdalene primary school being shut in order to create a monster 1400 student 0-19 academy will go on, a fight will include a demand that the adjudicator appointed to decide whether to close the school or not, Elizabeth Passmore, should be disqualified both because of her involvement in failing Islington Green School eight years ago against the advice of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and because until recently she worked for the company, GEMS, which owns 3Es, the project managers for the proposed academy!

Academies will create a two-tier system of education based on social class. This conclusion is one shared with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education and the Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy. They undermine equal opportunities are unaccountable to the local community.

We call on Lib Dem council leader, Steve Hitchens, Islington’s two Labour MPs Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn, CEA (the company which runs Islington’s schools for the council) and the governors and heads of Islington Green and St Mary Magdalene school to join with us in demanding that the government provides the funding necessary to rebuild or refurbish all Islington schools, without strings. We are told by supporters of the academy plans that are children deserve better and we agree wholeheartedly. In which case, should we allow them to become the victims of government blackmail which threatens to refuse Building Schools for the Future funding if Islington does not fall into line with its mad, evangelical free-market cult, plans to set our schools on the path to privatisation? No we should not. The government is prepared to give nearly £60 million to two private sponsors to take over local schools. Let them instead hand the money over directly so that all Islington children can benefit, not just the privileged minority. Islington Council should immediately submit a new BSF bid which includes both Islington Green and St Mary Magdalene schools and refuse to accept any conditions that include the creation of city academies.

From Socialist Teachers Alliance web site at:


June 2005


For Socialist Unity ~ For Internationalism ~ For Peace ~ For Justice ~ For Unity ~ For Socialism