Haggerston School Under Threat

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”!

Hands off Haggerston Campaign information sheet

Hackney Council to Re-open Haggerston Pool?

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”.

Summer newsletter published

  • Haggerston School Under Threat
  • City Academies
  • Olympics
  • Broadway Market
  • A View from Hoxton
  • A View from Haggerston
  • More!

Hackney Independent, Summer 2005 issue (pdf format)

More newsletters

Laburnum Street Party

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.”

Spring 2004 Newsletter


by Nusret Sen, Peter Sutton and Carl Taylor

Two years ago we stood in the council elections as independent working class candidates. We argued New Labour only represents the middle class in this area – they act in the interest of loft-dwelling City workers and their developer friends . We said that the working class majority in the area needed independent representation. We wanted to put your issues first and after talking to over 1000 people on estates in the ward we campaigned on the issues of crime and anti-social behaviour, housing repairs and transfers, and defending our vital community facilities.

Against a Labour Party bankrolled by big business we did well. With no experience of standing in an election before, we came within 90 votes of winning. We were the closest to beating Labour anywhere in the Hackney South and Shoreditch constituency. More people voted in Haggerston than in neighbouring wards, mainly because people who don’t normally vote saw us as something different and gave us a chance.

But Labour scraped back in. Since then what have they done?

• Haggerston pool is still shut (and now Clissold pool in Stoke Newington is shut as well)

• Laburnum School was closed despite protests from parents and the community

• Estate management has been handed over to private companies – tenants and leaseholders weren’t even given the choice of staying with the council

• Grant funding to Apples & Pears adventure playground and the One O’clock club has been cut

There will be another council election in two years time. It is our view that Labour do not deserve to keep representing this ward. We think there should be another independent working class challenge to Labour – whether this is us, or other independent working class candidates. That challenge has already begun. We know how to fight elections now, but we also understand that community politics is not about ticking a box once every four years. It’s about our involvement in the day to day issues of Haggerston. We will work with anyone who wants to fight Labour’s plans for privatising and gentrifying this area.




Tenants Petition ShOW over New Development
Activists from the Shoreditch Tenants Association have been petitioning the estates in the Pitfield Street area of Hoxton about the proposed redevelopment of the old cinema. Shoreditch Our Way (ShOW) have pushed a bid for the site, currently a warehouse. They say they want to reopen it as a community cinema. However, the planning application leaves it open for “mixed use”. Local residents are clear that while they would welcome a local community cinema — including a Saturday Morning Club for local children — they object to more yuppie flats and late-night bars. In short, local people do not want the so-called Shoreditch “cultural quarter”, with its high prices and anti-social behaviour, to creep further North from Hoxton Square into residential areas. Shoreditch T/A’s petition will be submitted to both ShOW and Hackney Council’s Planning Office.

£30 million – Down the Drain?
Hackney hit the headlines again with the closure of the £30million Clissold Leisure Centre. During the last election, the IWCA campaigned for “the re-opening of Haggerston Pool as a publicly owned facility at affordable prices.” A fraction of the cost of Clissold would have refurbished Haggerston Pool, but New Labour preferred to open their very own Millennium Dome in the borough instead.

Working Class Candidate for London Mayor
The IWCA recently announced its candidate for the London Mayoral election on June 10th. Lorna Reid, 39, is an advice worker who lives on a council estate in Islington. She aims to give a voice to the concerns of the millions of working class people in London who find they are ignored by the mainstream parties. The message she is sending is: “We live here too!”

More information: http://www.iwca.info

Get Involved with Community Politics!
This newsletter is put together by community activists who want to work together to defend working class interests in Haggerston and Hackney. If you would like to work with us then contact 020 7684 1743

The Truth about the Olympics
Ken Livingstone and New Labour are promoting the lower Lea Valley for the 2012 Olympic Games. While vital sports provision for the rest of us continues to be cut (bear in mind that dozens of football pitches on the marshes will be lost to make way for a coach park), what is being kept quiet is the plan if the Olympics doesn’t happen.

Thousands of jobs will be lost from the hundreds of local companies who will be evicted, so that thousands of riverside flats for Canary Wharf yuppies can be built.

Camden Tenants Fight Housing Privatisation
Housing Minister, Keith Hill called tenants in Camden “irrational” after they threw out government plans to hand their homes over to an ‘Arms Length Management Organisation’ (ALMO). More than 3 out of 4 tenants voted against the ALMO, rejecting the advice of Labour councillors, highly-paid consultants and top council officers. ALMOs are limited companies, set up to run council housing but tenants realised that it would quickly be sold off to a housing association. There has to be another vote before this can happen, but the ALMO is just a half-way house which the Council uses to get tenants used to the idea that Council housing should be privately run.

Minister Keith Hill has shown the contempt he has for tenants who don’t just go along with Labour’s privatisation plans and who want improved council housing with no strings attached. Watch out for Labour’s plans for bringing in an ALMO in Hackney.

New Labour – Privatise Locally, Privatise Globally
The charity War on Want has recently criticised the government severely for tie-ing overseas aid to the privatisation of public services. Hackney residents have become very familiar with New Labour’s fetish for privatisation. However, until recently most of us didn’t know that New Labour’s commitment to selling off everything that moves also extends to Africa, Asia and South America…

Haggerston Tenants Reject Imposition of Private Company

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.”

Dubious Deals on Dawson Street?

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"

“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.

Council Ignores Laburnum School Campaign – Now Have Your Say

Hackney Council has ignored all the responses from the consultation over the closure of Laburnum School and decided to push ahead. This flies in the face of local opinion and could lead to another valuable community asset being taken away from us.

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:

Stuart Sands
3rd Floor
The Learning Trust
Hackney TLC
1 Reading Lane
E8 1GQ
This must arrive no later than Monday 24th February.

Laburnum School – "Consultation" Period Over

Today is the end of the “consultation” period. Laburnum kids and parents are handing in hundreds of signatures on petitions and postcards to the Learning Trust who will make specific proposals and consult on them throughout November. Below Carl Taylor puts forward our perspective on the “consultation” in a letter to the Learning Trust ; meanwhile the Save Laburnum Campaign goes on.


It is the view of Hackney Independent that Hackney Council/the Learning Trust intend to close Laburnum School regardless of this “consultation” exercise. You are going through this exercise only because you have to legally. However we do not accept that closing Laburnum School is inevitable. Hackney Independent is campaigning as an organisation in the south of the Borough and as part of the Save Laburnum School Campaign against closure of Laburnum School. We want to impress upon Labour councillors in Haggerston Ward in particular that this decision will cost them too much in political terms. They nearly lost Haggerston Ward to IWCA (Hackney Independent) candidates this year, and they will have no chance of retaining Haggerston in 2006 if they allow this school to close.


On the subject of the election, the decision to close Laburnum School makes a mockery of local democracy. Just five months ago five rival political groups were out campaigning in Haggerston Ward in the Council elections. Four of the political groups did not know about the proposal to close Laburnum School. The Labour Party candidates did, but chose to hide it. In voting, or in choosing not to vote, none of the Haggerston electors knew that the Council was considering closing Laburnum School. For this reason we call for a referendum across Haggerston Ward on this issue before a final decision is made on closing Laburnum School.


We accuse the Council of running down Laburnum School for years. The Council tolerated an unpopular Head, who did much damage to the school. The Council took no action then, leading to the school going into Special Measures. Now under a popular Head, who working with governors and staff has turned the school around, the Council say the school must close. And you have the cheek to say part of the reason is that the School is on Special Measures. But it is only on Special Measures because of the lack of Council support in the first place, and of course is only ne of many Hackney schools that have been on special measures.


By closing Laburnum School you also close a full-time nursery. We know that this means that the Council saves more money by closing Laburnum than other schools with no nursery or only a part-time nursery. We believe that this is part of a wider agenda to run down public nursery places in the Borough and replace them with private nurseries. If this is not the case, what proposals have you got to provide the same number of nursery hours in other local schools if Laburnum closes?


Property developers are already showing an interest in the Laburnum School site. (See the page 21 of Homehunter in this week’s Gazette). It is as obvious to them as it is to the local community and us what the real agenda is here. You have got a building that would convert so easily into yuppie flats as well as the playground which faces onto the canal, where more flats could be built. Taken alongside the private flats built on both sides of the school, Shoreditch New Deal plans for 30 private flats in Haggerston Pool and proposals to redevelop Haggerston West and Kingsland estates, the obvious intent is to transform the area. The Council is pursuing a policy of social cleansing – of driving out the working class majority and moving in a new middle class population who don’t use facilities, libraries, social services or welfare benefits, while paying a high level of Council Tax. They won’t use local schools as they will either send their kids out of the Borough or move before they are school age to be replaced by more rich young childless couples. We will fight not just the closure of Laburnum School, but any attempt to use the site for anything other than education.


Over the last few years Haggerston has lost so much. We have lost more than one library, youth clubs, nurseries and the swimming pool. Both the Apples and Pears Adventure Playground and the Haggerston One O’clock Club are under threat. Top Learning Trust Managers might not be interested in wider issues, but the Council is meant to be. Haggerston should not have to pay so heavy a price for the financial mismanagement of this Council.


Laburnum School – Messages of Support

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.


Below we print some of the messages written by people on the postcards, giving just their initials and postcode. (All these postcodes are within Hackney).


BC, E9 Stop closing schools and hospitals
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