[IMC-UK-Features] [Feature Proposal Teachers 'Tent City' Occupation Defends Wembley Sports Ground From Privatisation
maqui at syndicate.org.uk
Wed Jul 16 15:18:16 PDT 2008
I propose the feature below for the UK, London, Education and Free
Spaces middle columns. There are quite a few report on the wire about
this,, some of which contain substantial research about the story, and
which I have used for the Content as "Background Story"
I haven't got time now to add all the links and html, but i intend to
do it tomorrow at some point and publish it by the evening if there are
Teachers 'Tent City' Occupation Defends Wembley Sports Ground From
(or something shorter if someone proposes an alternative title :-)
The Wembley Tent City Occupation located on Wembley Park Sports Ground,
is opposed to the plans for a privatised Wembley Park Academy school to
be built on one of the few remaining green areas accessible to the
local community for sports training. The campaign is in keeping with
the wave of resistance to new school academies up and down the country.
The Wembley Ark Academy is an American and British educational charity
sponsored and run by a group of millionaire merchant bankers and
currency speculators, led by french/swiss and multimillionaire Arpad
Busson. The Ark Academy is estimated to cost around £30 million of
public money yet it would be privately run.
The re-establisment of the 'Tent City' started on the 30th of June,
following last year's previous permanent occupation of the site that
lasted six months, and which saw tree houses being built. The site was
then only vacated when the protestors won a year’s extension on the
lease. Wembley teachers and their local supporters argue that after
more than two years of campaigning to keep the community sports grounds
out of the private sector, they are not going to give in now without a
fight, as the building of the planned Wembley Academy is part of
Brent's council drive to privatise schools, turning education into a
profit making business instead of a basic human right beyond the
'logic' of the market.
On Wedneday 16th, teachers and local people continued the occupation
despite renewed threats of forced eviction and possible arrests. They
took permanent positions on the roofs of the building next to the
sports grounds, with at least one protestor locking on to the main
mast. An earlier eviction had been set for Tuesday 15th, when around 50
local people turned up to show support. It is now expected that the
eviction will happen soon and 'by surprise' in the the early morning,
and so they call for urgent solidarity and for people to go up there
and show their support.
The Wembley Tent City Occupation, located on Wembley Park Sports Ground
next to Wembley-Park tube station (Metropolitan Line), is opposed to
the Wembley Park Academy school which Brent Council is yet to give full
approval to. The campaign is in keeping with the wave of resistance to
new school academies up and down the country. The Wembley Ark Academy
is an American and British educational charity sponsored and run by a
group of millionaire merchant bankers and currency speculators, led by
french/swiss and multimillionaire Arpad Busson. Arpad "Arki" Busson is
senior partner of EIM fund management company (with assets reported as
ranging from £5 billion to £10 billion). The Ark Academy is estimated
to cost around £30 million of public money yet would be privately run.
Unlike PFI in the NHS, the taxpayer puts up virtually all of the
initial capital cost. It is not clear whether Busson himself declares
non domicile tax eile status, and so, pays no tax in the UK himself.
The occupation is also in defence of a recreation ground with 2
football pitches and the Sunflower childrens nursery as well as other
small businesses also on the site. The sports ground, in the shadow of
the arch of the new Wembley stadium, is used by several hundred
different youngsters and teenagers from the local area who are
comprised of a wide range of ethnic diversity, some of whom come from
the local Chalk-Hill estate, who pay as little as £1 per training
session. Though Brent Council have guranteed that access to play on the
football pitches will remain for the next two years, ARK have so far
not made any commitment to either keep the football pitches nor retain
the local young community's affordable access to this local recreation
On 03 June 2008 Brent Town Council approved the child charity Ark
proposal to begin the initial construction of temporary housing for 200
school pupils in huts as a forerunner for the new Wembley Academy
School. That planning meeting approved this scheme, seemingly unaware
of the fact that once planning approval is granted for the entire
school academy project, it's construction on the site over the next two
years will put children in these temporary classrooms in danger with
cranes overhanging the portacabins and temporary accommodation.
Ark and the wider push for private investors involvement in state
"Creating Academies involves the transfer of publicly funded assets to
the control of an unaccountable sponsoring body, set up as a company
limited by guarantee. Sponsors receive the entire school budget
directly from the Government. Where state schools are turned into
Academies, this effectively means that multi millionaires gain control
of a multi million pound asset, whose building and running costs are
funded overwhelmingly by us the taxpayers, and they cough up a
comparative pittance." (source: NUT's document 'ACADEMIES: LOOKING
BEYOND THE SPIN').
Ark is set to run 12 Academy schools throughout the UK, six of which
will be opened by September 2008. One reason the Wembley Academy
opening date was moved forward from September 2009 to 2008 was because
local opposition against the Academy and the privatisation of UK
education has been so massive in Brent, Ark thought that advancing the
school start date would crush the resistance.
Connections are being made with the Battersea Crane Disaster Group, the
Construction Safety Campaign and the Pimlico school teachers who are
also fighting the privatisation of their school by venture capitalist,
and Tory party funder, John Nash and his company Sovereign Capital.
Other criticisms about Academies:
Source: NUT's document 'ACADEMIES: LOOKING BEYOND THE SPIN':
The Government has said that Academies, “can combine a greater
flexibility over the curriculum with the sponsorship and expertise of
religious, private or voluntary sector contributors...” The curriculum
in Academies is therefore likely to be susceptible to being influenced
by the ethos of the sponsoring bodies.
The facility to give priority to children of a particular faith
additionally means that it is possible for Academies to refuse places
to local pupils.
Academies, as independent schools, can operate outside the School
Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document. It is the responsibility of the
Academy to agree levels of pay and conditions of service with its
employees and to employ appropriate staff numbers. Whilst teachers in
Academies which replace existing schools have their conditions
protected on transfer, newly appointed teachers are often placed on
separate contracts that involve longer working hours and less
favourable working conditions. Having teachers working on different
contracts can lead to a divided, two-tier workforce.
Elected councillors have no responsibility for academies, making it
difficult for parents to make representations or seek advice on
educational issues from their councillors.
The Tent City Occupation:
Last year, teachers protesting against the academy occupied the site
for six months. The site was vacated when the protestors secured a
year's extension for all leaseholders on the site. However, Brent
Council reneged on this promise by issuing notice to all businesses on
the site to leave by 31st July. This high handed threat was after the
council had promised in writing to help with ensuring all businesses
would be relocated yet have done nothing, including the Sunflower
Brent Council have pushed for an immediate eviction order on the Tent
City on the Wembley Sports Ground, Bridge Road, so the construction of
temporary accomodation for the first 60 pupils can start. They will
either be in portacabins on the sports fields or housed in the sports
hall, a leaking dilapidated building that needs some serious work.
Meanwhile, evidence has emerged that local primary schools have not
filled their places for reception classes in September whilst the
council actively encouraged parents to change their school selection
preferences in favour of the new school as it has pushed ahead with
this 'pre-academy' development. Just two schools shortfall (Wembley
Primary and Preston Park - both very near the proposed school) nearly
make up the 60 places to be offered in the temporary academy buildings
proposed to open in September 08. Brent Council have acted to undermine
their own state schools, leaving them in a worrying financial
situation, by getting parents to apply for the academy reception places
after they had already applied for local schools.
The portocabins will be fully funded by the local taxpayer and not by
Ark, the private investor in the Wembley Academy school.
The academy scheme itself is largely financed the UK taxpayer, which
the private investors are then able to make a profit from.
Brent NUT & ATL Secretary Hank Roberts said on Friday 11 July, that
they will resist the eviction, non-violently, in any way they can and
asked for people to join him. Non-violent direct action tactics will be
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