The campaign to stop the closure of two local schools in Trafford,
Manchester was boosted last week as a 100 strong meeting of parents
and students decided to step up the fight against the plan for an
Academy. "This is a scam!" said Alasdair Smith, of the Anti Academies
Alliance. "What they want to do is what Maggie Thatcher did -
privatisation and cuts. They want to put two schools into one, and
sell off the assets."
"All you are thinking about is the money!" said one fourteen year old
student, silencing the only advocate of the Academy plan present. The
Labour Cllr David Acton confirmed that the Tory Council are set to
sell school land for £21 million to Tescos, so that Old Trafford
Cricket Club can then be renovated. "None of the money will go back
"Our children only get one chance, now they want to it take away. Our
kids should be able to take subjects like music, drama, languages.
What about going on to University?", said parent Bev Davies. "But they
only want to give them vocational education." Bev is helping organise
a 'Lostock army' of parents to march on Trafford Town Hall. Parents
from Stretford High are now joining the fight. "We need to unite both
communities together to fight to save both schools," said parent Emma
March to stop the Academy.
Assemble 3.45pm Thursday 18th March. at Lostock College, Barton Rd.
Stretford. March to Stretford High School and then on to Trafford Town
Hall, Talbot Rd.
Parents spark rebellion at school closures in Trafford.
Tescos and 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 their future.
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
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