Why does the council want to turn Haggerston School into a City Academy?
Haggerston School is a popular and successful part of our community. The top schools inspector stated it was among the most successful schools in the country. Haggerston came third in the borough’s “league table”.
So why does Hackney Council want to force Haggerston School to become a privately-sponsored mixed-sex City Academy?
The government plans to bring in just 200 city academies across the country. So why have Hackney Council and their private “Learning Trust” company that runs our schools, made it clear they want every secondary school in Hackney to become either a City Academy or foundation school? Most councils will not even have a City Academy, but they want us to have four!
Looking around the country it is clear that other councils have run successful schools into the ground so they can sell them off as City Academies.
Hands off Haggerston Campaign information sheet
Turning Haggerston into a mixed school is one way of doing this.
It looks like it’s a two-part plan – first change a popular girls’ school to a mixed school, then offer extra funding if it goes over to being a City Academy.
Whatever the pros and cons of mixed schools, we should oppose this change until the Council guarantee us that they will not make Haggerston a City Academy.
We know we are not alone thinking this. While the Council and the Learning Trust cook up their plans for Haggerston School, Hackney Independent went out to ask people what they thought. In a survey carried out across Fellows Court in June and July, we found 85% of people opposed the Council’s plans.
Why are our Labour council trying to force this change to Haggerston School on us?
It is because they are obsessed with privatising everything and getting rid of their responsibilities for everything from running swimming pools to cleaning our estates.
They’ve already privatised our estate managers, now they want to shift the whole of council housing to an ALMO company.
They’ve got rid of the running of our schools to the private Learning Trust, now they want rid of as many schools as they can to City Academies.
Privatising and transferring responsibility from the council is their one and only answer to everything.
Our children are being used as guinea pigs in the biggest change in education since they brought in comprehensives. This time it is not about a fair deal for all our kids, it is about privatising our schools.
We support the Haggerston School parents, pupils and staff and stand alongside them and Shoreditch tenants and residents in opposing the council’s plans. As the girls’ banner in our photo says: “Hands off Haggerston”!
The council has publicly announced that it intends to “explore options to bring [Haggerston] pool back into use under public ownership”.
This is to be welcomed.
Since its closure in February 2000, Haggerston Pool Users’ Group has campaigned hard for the reopening of the pool as a community facility, organizing demonstrations, lobbies, tv and media coverage, Open House and the Laburnum Street Party – all without support from Hackney Council, which has been justifiably embarrassed by their efforts.
When the council has lowered itself to offer help – most recently by advertising the street party in Hackney Today – it has de-politicised the issue, failing to acknowledge the campaign’s existence. It was, after all, a political decision to close this pool, while wasting millions of pounds on the disastrous Clissold Leisure Centre development.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the council is exploring options for the reopening of the pool without involving the Users’ Group.
As Hackney Independent has pointed out on numerous occasions, New Labour’s idea of ‘consultation’ is to make a decision and then only to listen to opinions from local interest groups if they agree with what they have already decided. Otherwise those opinions are ignored.
New Labour talks the talk about ‘local involvement’, ‘consultation’ and ‘community empowerment’, but notoriously fails to walk the walk. Hackney Council is a prime offender.
Mike Coysh, Chair of Haggerston Pool Community Trust, puts it succinctly when he says, “We welcome any moves to look at the possibility of re-opening the pool, but are disappointed that yet again a study has been commissioned without the involvement of the local community and the Pool Trust”.
The annual Laburnum Street Party took place last weekend and was a resounding success.
Hackney Independent ran an Independent Kids Cinema event, staffed a stall with our newsletters and a special information leaflet and provided the majority of stewards for the day.
Other activities included music and dance, a bouncy castle, clowns for kids and Laburnum Boat Club ran canal trips.
The street party is a genuine community festival organised by people living in the Laburnum Street area, which started last year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Haggerston Pool.
The pool was closed by Hackney Council in 2000 at which time it was promised that it would be reopened in months. It remains closed to this day and an aim of the fun day is to raise the profile of the pool and support the campaign for its reopening.
Although it has widespread support in the community, Hackney Council seemed to be doing its best to sabotage the event.
Official council newspaper Hackney Today was distributed a week before the event with a front page piece stating that the funday would take place on the Saturday rather than the Sunday.
The council also removed any mention of the pool campaign and portrayed the event as just “a good day out” with no political content.
Hackney Independent’s Carl Taylor said “We proud to be involved with this event. No wonder the Council were ashamed to mention the pool given their track record of closing community facilities in the area.”
On 1 November 2003, Pinnacle took over the housing management of St Mary’s Estate in Haggertson. Despite calls for a tenant ballot on the issue, the council undertook a limited consultation exercise, the results of which have not been made public. However, at a meeting in early August, 30 out of 35 people asked for a choice to remain with the council.
Ignoring the results of this consultation meeting, the council’s cabinet decided to press ahead with the transfer of estate management to Pinnacle. It should be noted that the choice tenants were given by the council was between privatisation this year, or possible privatisation next year, ie no real choice at all.
Hackney Independent Working Class Association has spoken to nearly half the tenants on St Mary’s, 160 of whom have signed a petition calling for a tenant ballot on the issue and to be given the choice of remaining with the council. The petition has been sent to Cllr Jamie Carswell, head of Housing at Hackney Council.
As a tenant from St Mary’s states, “The majority of tenants and residents were unhappy that there were only two options on the voting paper and most added a third option stating that they wanted things to remain as they were. These feelings were ignored as was a direct question to Jamie Carswell asking for a ballot”.
IWCA spokesperson Carl Taylor said : “This is not about the rights and wrongs of privatisation – although the IWCA is opposed to it – but the fact that tenants have not been given a real choice or the opportunity to vote on the matter. Consultation New Labour-style is clearly no substitute for genuine democracy.”
16th June 2003
Hackney IWCA has discovered that the destruction of the Victorian former school in Dawson St E2, next to the Hackney Rd Bingo Hall, is nearly complete. Local residents received a letter from Hackney’s Planning Department on Saturday 24 May 2003 informing them that the plans for a 5-storey block of flats were due to be considered at the Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday 27 May. With the Bank Holiday in between this gave residents just one working day’s notice of the meeting, but the letter announced that the Planning Department was to recommend approval of the flats in any case.
This puts to bed another questionable property deal by Hackney Council. The premises were donated to the Borough for community use, and in recent years used by the council’s Social Services department. Last year the entire school building and its grounds was sold – for the criminally low sum of £526,500 according to HM Land Registry (this in a part of Hackney where a tiny terraced house will set you back £300,000!) – to a developer who immediately put forward plans for 22 residential flats and a tiny “D1 community use” area on the ground floor. The development met with concerted opposition from local residents, with 40-odd households objecting to the plans in writing. It’s not hard to do the sums: after selling their 22 flats the new landowner will still clear a million or two comfortably. And it’s not hard to guess who’ll be moving into the flats. Certainly not hard-up tenants from nearby Fellows Court!
Interestingly, the property is now owned by Goodview Ltd who are currently featured on the front of Hackney Labour Party’s website because they want to demolish a pub and build… a block of flats! In that story Labour Party councillors are quoted at length under the headline ‘”Don’t call time on The Vic” say Labour councillors’. Cllr Boyd is quoted as saying, “I am horrified at the proposal to demolish this historic building”. As a local resident has told us “It’s interesting to note the councillors’ sense of priority: they’ll scream and shout and fight to save a pub, but won’t lift a finger to prevent the demolition of a community centre by the same developer. Local people are disgusted by the council’s lack of consultation over this and want to find out how this happened”.
And it would seem Hackney Council aren’t too happy to let people access their records on this sale, claiming that the sale price for the land had been archived and was therefore unavailable. Hackney IWCA and local tenants will be investigating the whole matter further…
“This used to be our library” – graffiti on a new development off Whiston Rd.
Before becoming a nursery for hospital staff, the new yuppie development was a local library.
All objections to this decision must be reported to the Schools Organisation Committee, which recently voted 3 to 2 against closing Kingsland secondary. Any non-unanimous decision goes to the Secretary of State, so Hackney IWCA (Hackney Independent as of summer 2004) are urging all supporters of Laburnum School to send their objections to the following address explaining why the school must stay open:
The Learning Trust
1 Reading Lane
This must arrive no later than Monday 24th February.
22nd September 2002
The Save Laburnum School Campaign has launched a postcard campaign in August. Hundreds of local people have signed them, objecting to the Council’s plans to close the school. While many people have posted their own postcards direct to the Council, the Campaign has collected postcards at stalls held around the area and set up a postbox in Haggerston Community Centre. These postcards will be handed in to the Council at the end of the “consultation” period on 30th Deptember.
GC, N1 I think this is out of order
TO, N1 My children go to Laburnum and are very happy in their school. Please don’t close it
GC, E9 Not good. Should not happen
WW, E9 Education leads to a better life
JC, E8 Prime development site by canal?
GG, N1 Some schools in Hackney are already over-crowded. This does not promote a good education
SK, E9 Too few schools in Hackney already!
AS, E9 Children need their school to learn, and also we need more teachers
ID, E5 Disgraceful
DK, E8 This school has children and teachers. What happens to them?
PJ, E8 Please don’t close my school, I love it
DM, E8 Laburnum School offers an after school project and a breakfast club
NM, E8 Laburnum is a very good school and still getting better
AM, E2 I think it is not fair for the children. We must save the school
KT, E5 How do you expect children to get a good start in life if you keep closing schools?
JT, E2 I can’t believe you are taking another school away from Hackney. How many more children have to suffer? Education is very important in a child’s life
MT, E2 Please don’t close the school because all the children get good education and they are happy at the school
CR, E2 It is a great shame. My niece and nephew went on to a good secondary school
DK, E8 My children have attended this school since moving to London. All 3 children love their school
DR, E2 I object to this much needed school closure. All because the Council got itself in a financial mess in the past
NS, E8 Why didn’t our councillors tell us before the election? Shame!
GB, N1 Enough enoughs
JW, E2 It is a shame to close this school. I myself went to this school when I lived opposite the school. My children and now my grandchildren go there. It’s a great school
KR, N1 Hackney should be working towards building futures for children instead of taking away what they have
II, N1 Don’t close it down. It is my old primary school
JH, N1 Why? It’s needed now more than ever
TK, E8 Shame on you Hackney bigwigs, and it is all wigs isn’t it?
SO, E8 What are the reasons for the closure? There is another solution if we really think about it
PD, E8 Haggerston needs Laburnum. It is an up and coming school
SS, E8 Please consider all the students how they will take the situation
IM, E8 My children and grandchildren went there. It is our local school and a good one and serves a much better purpose to our community that the provision of yuppie flats. I would wish for my great grandsons and daughters to have knowledge of this school
DK, E8 I love this school. It has a special needs programme and they also have a reading together group
DB, E2 Obviously you are determined to displace a whole school in pursuit of financial gain. You have not considered the long-term effects for the children and their families by your plan. Shame on you all
SA, E2 I think that it is irresponsible to sell out on any educational facility in Hackney. The facilities and standards here are already poor enough as they are
PP, E8 This is a great school. Please think again
AO, E8 Don’t sell the future of our children for a peanut today
SD, E2 Because Hackney Council is in debt, do not mean they have to sell everything in Hackney. Leave our schools alone
NS, E2 Leave the school alone because the children love the school. We love our school
UO, E8 If every school is a good school, then don’t close Laburnum. Make it better school for our community and our children
VJ, N1 Money should be invested in schools. The youth are our future!!
DC, N1 What about our children’s education? Please do not close the school
TS, E8 I believe the school should stay for the good it does our community – local schools for local people
AM, E2 I’m disgusted at the Council’s attitude. Do you want kids to grow up stupid?
TP, E8 Please see sense
SE, E2 Please do not close any more of our schools
RL, E8 Spend more on schools, less on war!
PW Do not use schools to bail you out of financial crisis!!
MH, E2 Keep communities like they want, not like the system wants
MG, E5 We have to do all we can to stop this closure
RS,N16 Keep the school open!!
Emmanuel Amevor, Centerprise Director. What next – destroying the next generation. Stop this nonsense and save Laburnum Primary School