Thursday, 3 July 2008

New Brighton branch of Anti Acadmies Alliance formed to defend state education at Falmer


GROUP TO PROTEST OUTSIDE COUNCIL OFFICES : 4pm, 10th July, Outside Hove Town Hall

A new Brighton and Hove branch of the Anti-Academies Alliance has been formed to oppose proposals to replace Falmer High School with a City Academy, following a public meeting called by the Green Party. Some fifty people attended, including teachers and parents of children at Falmer High School, members of relevant trade unions and staff from both Brighton and Sussex universities.

Speakers included Green Party Education Spokesperson Cllr Rachel Fryer, Linda Newman (outgoing president of the Universities and Colleges Union and a former pupil at Falmer High School), and Alistair Smith, the National Secretary of the
Anti Academies Alliance and a teacher and lecturer in education.

The meeting was chaired by Cllr Ben Duncan, prospective parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown.

Cllr Duncan (Green Party, Queen's Park), said:

"I'm delighted that there was such enthusiasm from parents and teachers in Moulescoomb and the surrounding area to defend a local school from what is, at it's heart, an attack on community run education. Plans for an academy are a big gamble - with our children's future at stake."

The meeting saw animated debate about the proposals to close Falmer High and replace it with an academy, including much discussion of the downsides which were not heard at the recent council-held meeting at the high school.

These centred around:

* the future of children with special education needs
* children whose aptitudes or enthusiasm lay outside of the academies planned specialities of sport or entrepreneurship
* the role replacing the high school with an academy will play in education privatisation

The meeting heard that the proposed academy:

* would not have to follow the national curriculum
* would not have to meet existing staff's pay and conditions into the long term
* would not have to follow the councils admissions policy.

Concerns were also raised that recent government figures suggested that 20 per cent of maintained comprehensive schools were under performing while a third of academies were.

The meeting heard how the proposed sponsor, Rod Aldridge, stood to make financial gains from the proposal. Questioned were raised about his motives, and one speaker challenged him to give money to benefit the education system in Brighton and Hove without demanding control of a state school.

A planning meeting for the new group took place after the meeting and it expects to hold its first demonstration before the Council's next cabinet meeting, which takes place from 4pm on July 10th at Hove town hall.

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