Parents spark rebellion at school closures in Trafford.
Cricket Club 'the only winners' in £21 million Academy deal.
Parents at two schools in Stretford have united in a campaign to stop
the closure of their children's schools, Lostock College and Stretford
High School. Anger has erupted at a deal that would see big business
benefit, but children and teachers left with no more than promises about
Under a complex plan drawn up by the Tory Council, both schools would be
shut by Trafford in August, land from Stretford High School would be
given to Tescos for a new Mega store, and Tescos would in turn give £21
million to Lancashire County Cricket Club for a refurbishment to bring
it up to International Test Cricket standards.
'Its all about money and not our children's education', explains Lesley
Quayle, one of the parents organising opposition to the plan. 'They want
to rush this all through before the elections in May'. Another parent
speaking at a fifty strong meeting last week said 'the only reason is
the £21 million Tesco say they will give to the Cricket Club.' Parents
from both schools have join together to oppose the Academy plan.
Angela Kennedy is another parent organising opposition to the school
closures. 'I am one of a rapidly growing group of angry parents, who
have been told that their children’s beloved schools will be closing in
August this year because they are not financially viable. Can you
imagine how it grates when we hear that proceeds from the sale of
‘public’‘school’ land is going to a private members club."
Sale of school land to Tescos has been approved by the Department For
Education. But locally Labour Councillors are opposed. Labour's leader
on Trafford Council David Acton feels 'the proposals are being driven
very much by the Tesco/LCCC plans, where they wish to sell Stretford
High School owned land to Tesco for £21M and then hand that capital
receipt to LCCC, which is a private members club. In my view it is
totally wrong, and I'm not convinced it's in the public interest. At the
same time they wish to close two schools, and build a new school on
the Stretford site which, with the sale of part of the school land, is
very tight, and therefore they will need to use part of Gorse Hill Park.
All of this is to me is ill thought out."
Conservative, Shadow Children's Secretary, Michael Gove proclaims that,
'We know small schools provide an excellent education, so we should be
doing every thing possible to support them.' Locally, Trafford's Tories
seem to have different priorities.
The two schools down for closure may be small but they are well regarded
by both pupils and parents. Past pupil, and now parent Lesley Quayle
says, 'Lostock College is not just a school, it's the central point of a
community. Lostock college is a good school providing a caring
environment in which pupils are allowed to express themselves and
flourish." Her daughter Elisha, who is in year 10 loves her school, "big
things come from little packages" she said. Streford High School, which
has land that Tescos wants, is popular and 'in the top 1% of all
schools nationally for value added learning at Key Stage 2 - 4'
Trafford College, the sponsor set to take over and then run the two
schools as an new Academy, has yet to unveil its plans. Many Further
Education Colleges are already making cutbacks, and all face future cuts
of 10% across the sector. "The idea of handing the pupils over to
Trafford College, to ‘manage’ them over two sites, until some sort of
multi-storey academy is built, is an insult to our children who ar being
treated like a items from a production line," explains Angela Kennedy, a
parent who works as the Commercial Director of a local company.
Teachers from all unions are opposed to Academies. The NASUWT union
are consulting members on possible industrial action at Stretford High.
All pay and conditions, union recognition, and holidays are at risk
under any Academy take over. The Anti Academies Alliance is a national
body which helps and co ordinates opposition to Academies. Local
spokesperson Mark Krantz, a retired teacher who taught at Lostock and in
Stretford for 27 years, is helping with the local campaign. He said,
'we know in any move to an Academy many of the existing teachers will
leave, pupil exclusions will soar, and no real improvement will be seen
in educational outcomes. I believe young people should be encouraged to
aspire to more than just shelve stacking in a supermarket or glass
collecting at a members club."
Tescos has already faced strong opposition locally. Around 50 protesters
waved placards outside a full council meeting at Stretford Town Hall
last year. Local residents are campaigning against Tescos proposal for a
140,000 square foot store, linked to the redevelopment of Lancashire
County Cricket Club. If the Academy plan is beaten then the school land
at Stretford High School would not become available to Trafford Council
as this school 'opted out' of LEA control years ago. Manchester City
Council are also opposed to the Tesco plan as it would impact on local
shops in Chorlton. Small retailers in Stretford would also suffer.
Parents are determined to sink the Academy plan. A public meeting is
scheduled for Monday 8th March and a demonstration on the Town Hall is
being planned. 'The more noise and the more hassle we give them the more
likely we can get it stopped' said parent Bev Davies, 'There is no way
they are having our schools!'
Save Lostock College and Stretford High say no to
Academy can be found on facebook HERE