19 April 2015
On 16 April 2015 there was a meeting to discuss the future status of the Prendergast Vale School in Lewisham, one of three schools within the Prendergast Federation. In the words of Stop Academies in Lewisham (SAIL), it was “the most charged, comprehensive and rigorous of all the consultation forums so far.” After the Prendergast Ladywell School parent consultation meeting, which took place on 14 April, it is encouraging to see that the decision to convert this school to academy status is “not yet set in stone.” On 1 April the Governors were “offering, as a benefit of conversion, the grand sum of £70,000 for Vale, £70,000 for Ladywell and £50,000 for [Prendergast] Hilly Fields.” This kind of cash incentive puts pounds before pupils and looks to be some kind of golden handshake for being included in all things associated with academy status, such as the hiring of unqualified teachers.
The Leathersellers’ Federation Working Party has placed a greater importance on the role of the Governors and relegated input from the local community.
David Wolfe QC states that, “academies are (in law) ‘independent schools’... - unlike maintained schools, in academies parents and pupils have very few direct legal rights.”
Lewisham Green Party supports a parental ballot which currently has 572 signatures to date. The Green Party wants to bring existing free schools and Academies back into the Local Authority system.
Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Lewisham Deptford, John Coughlin, said:
"We must protect Lewisham schools from privatisation. Everyone should be entitled to a minimum standard of education regardless of their postcode or income. Academy schools are privately-operated, publicly-funded quangos. They are creating a postcode lottery in education quality. They give power and control over education to a handful of potentially biased commercial or religious companies adopting them. They are not subject to local management or national standards.
Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Lewisham East, Störm Poorun, said:
“Investing in young people across Lewisham means providing accountable, unbiased education, meeting minimum standards, and ensuring pupils get equal access to a full range of learning opportunities. Academy schools are a model which moves us away from equality in education.”