WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!! It's yer opening soon on Broadway ...
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Education Secretary Michael Gove has, once again, shown his democratic principles to be as flexible as his listening skills. The battle of Hove v Gove is over the use of school playing fields. The question Gove has been wrestling with is: should he allow four schools/colleges continued use of a shared playing field or should he let his mates in the Russell Education Trust concrete it over and build a religious school instead?
To the surprise of local residents, the four schools, Brighton & Hove Council and even the local Tory MP (none of whom had been consulted) Gove went with the God SquadBack in September 2012 Gove announced his support for a new free school in Hove. The King’s Church of England School, set up by the Russell Education Trust (RET), is in agreement with Gove’s educational “ideas” (i.e. a return to Tom Brown's schooldays) and has been given the green light to build on what is known as “Bhasvic field”. The 15 acre playing field is shared by BHASVIC, Cardinal Newman School, Stanford Junior School and Stanford Infants School. It's also used as a general public amenity - by dog walkers and those fancying a five-a-aside kickabout.
Between the announcement being made and plans submitted to the DfE was a whole FIVE weeks! Little time to mount any serious opposition, you’d have thought? But local parents and residents have organised and the “Friends of the Field” is fighting the proposals.Two weeks ago the four schools issued a joint statement warning that the plan would leave them unable to deliver their sports curriculum and would “permanently remove a vital green space in the heart of a densely populated city”. Cardinal Newman School’s acting headteacher, Dr James Kilmartin: “We were shocked and outraged. There was no consultation. We use that field every day – for cricket, rounders, athletics, football.” So much for the Olympic legacy then!
And how easy is it for the public to find out about the Russell Education Trust? Not very, according to Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham (someone else Gove has fallen out with). Well, what we do know about RET is that it may have charitable status, but its directors draw a salary, and that salary is dependent upon… the number of schools the Trust runs! For example, whilst the rest of the State education system faces swingeing cuts RET will receive an average of four per cent of Brentwood school Becket Keys’ annual revenue over the first seven years of its operation. That religious free school will receive 2 million quid of taxpayers’ money, possibly rising to £4.5 million by 2019. Nice work if you can get it, which directors Karen Lynch and David Lynch certainly can. RET is an off-shoot of Education London, a private education company offering services that include curriculum planning and management restructuring (i.e. redundancies). And the directors of Education London? Karen and David Lynch…
Why is taxpayers money being used to set up a school which states its admissions criteria as ‘50% Christian and 50% other faiths or non-faiths’? As only around 7% of the UK population are practicing Christians it looks like a lot of people will have to “find God” in order to gain admission. With its “distinctly Christian ethos” what will the school teach about creationism, homosexuality and same-sex relationships?
A new school is needed in the Hove area, but between the four schools there are over 4,000 students in a fairly small area. The proposed King’s School, due to open at Portslade Sixth Form Centre in September 2013, relocating to Bhasvic field three years later, will offer education to 1,100 11 – 18 year olds. That’ll be around 6,000 students in the same place. They’ll be needing a lot of school buses.
But fear not. Surely Brighton & Hove Council can turn this down? Well, no. The council is against the plan, but it is the Department for Education that has the final say. The school land and playing fields are owned by the council, but the Education Act 2011 gives the Government the power to take control of public land allocated for educational use and transfer ownership to a trustee or governing body of an academy or free school, which is free from council control. If this were to happen to Bhasvic field the council will receive no money from the transfer. The King’s School would still need council planning permission to build on the site but a refusal from the council would simply lead to an appeal to the Government. So that's in the bag then!
To find out more head to Friends of the Field
Anti fracking campaigners have got their hands on a Sussex Police report that details an 'emerging' nationwide strategy on protests against the controversial drilling technique. The report has been exposed in a report about the policing of the protests at Balcombe, West Sussex, last summer.
They've stolen our postal service, and are currently giving away the health service, education and prisons to their mates, what's next for this Government? Perhaps the most audacious theft yet - potentially all of our public land.
Artivists take on BPs sponsorship of the British Museum's Viking exhibition.
We started writing about three interesting but unrelated things happening in June. Here is an amalgamated version, which is worth a read.
As politicians get ready to debate the HS2 rail project for the second time, campaigners fight for secret documents to be released - and the environmentally devastating project to be shelved.
Re-occupation of the Hambach Forest, near Cologne in Germany, where activists occupy and fight the expansion of opencast mining.
As fracking companies dig in - communities around the country rise in resistance.