18 January 2011

Is there anything more disgusting than making disabled children pay for the West London “free” school?

The education of local children with special educational needs is taking second place to H&F Tory council's ideological passion for a “free” school that will take half its children from outside the borough.

Today, prime toads Toby Young and Stephen Greenhalgh have confirmed that they are shafting the disabled children and staff at the Cambridge School, who will not be moving out of their inadequate school building into a renovated Bryony Centre as they had been promised. No, the Bryony Centre will instead be given to the West London “free” school until Palingswick House – from which all the charities are to be kicked out in August – is ready.

An excellent piece in Children & Young People Now contains a questionable  “refutation” by “a spokeswoman for Hammersmith & Fulham Council”, who says:

(a) The West London Free School will help deal with a shortage of school places. No, that's what the new Hammersmith Academy, which is opening in Shepherds Bush in September 2011 with 780 places for students aged 11 to 18, will do – see details here

(b) The “Cambridge School does not expect to move site for at least two years.” Note the weasel words “at least”. The idea was that the Bryony Centre would be adapted over the next year or two to the needs of the Cambridge School’s disabled pupils. Now, however, the lengthy adaptation work will not begin until the “free” school has moved out after two years to Palingswick House. So the Cambridge pupils' move is actually being delayed by three to four years. And what if it takes even longer to get Palingswick House ready for Toby Young's Latin scholars?

An extra piece of poison is that by being located in Bryony Centre, the “free” school will doubtless try and poach the best kids from neighbouring Phoenix High.

And then of course there is the disgusting expulsion of local charities from Palingswick House. Toby Young today claimed “My understanding is that the groups currently using the building will be found alternative accommodation by the council.” Let's hope for the sake of his eternal soul that this is an understanding based on ignorance. The truth is that the council is not guaranteeing that the charities “will” be found a new home. Instead, they are to be required to bid for space in one of two “community hubs”, with a possible third hub not being created until after the charities are kicked out in August. See here for details.

The degree of local misery this “free” school will cause is quite shameless. It will be built on tears.


Anonymous said...

This blog is ideologically driven spin that disgustingly uses disabled children to try and score political points.

The Cambridge School had originally planned to have the Bryony Centre demolished and a purpose built school put up with BSF funds. This was stoped as BSF was the most colossal waste of public money ever implemented by a party of either political colour. There is and was no planned imminent move to the Bryony Centre. Even if there was a move planned within two years how does the West London Free School using the centre for one or two years equate to a delay (not wait) of three or four years?

In fact on their website the Cambridge School are very pleased with their current location, which is ideal for transport links, and their purpose built facilities.

You say the free school will no doubt try and poach the best kids from neighbouring Phoenix High. Let's hope for the sake of your eternal soul that this is a supposition based on ignorance. The alternative is that you are perfectly well aware of how admissions processes work, and how the admissions of the West London Free School will be based on proximity to Hammersmith Town Hall and then on a lottery basis, and so you are deliberately lying to scare people and sow seeds of disharmony in the area.

The charities in Palingswick House are being asked to move by the council. This is the council that was democratically elected by the people of Hammersmith and Fulham (even if you lost your seat) and who have a duty to manage the borough in the best interests of those people. There is a large debt to bring down, what right do the council have to effectively donate the undeveloped value of this asset to these charity groups? If the people of Hammersmith and Fulham want to donate to these charities directly then there is nothing to stop them, and I'm sure many of them do, but for government to do it on their behalf is unethical. Imagine if your employer just decided to donate some of your wages to charity without a by-your-leave! Presumably the council will be raising some funds by disposing of this asset or at least will receive a superior rent that will reflect the value of any investment.

By being frugal with the truth you are encouraging people to make poor decisions and at the same time creating social disharmony. Is your petty revenge worth it? By all means keep the council honest, but that means being honest yourself.

buddyhell said...

@ Anonymous
So the whole Free school idea is not ideologically driven? The money that will be allocated to free schools logically means that state schools will see less money as a consequence and I have not seen any evidence that contradicts this position.

Proponents of free schools are on the defensive and for very good reason: they realise that they're taking bread from the mouths of starving babies.

Anonymous said...

Free schools are state schools. Anyone can attend - no entrance criteria, other than feeder schools in some cases. The bread is still going to the starving babies only now they can choose bread they actually like.
Yes free schools may be ideologically driven, they are based on how one section of the political spectrum feels education can be improved, but I haven't caught proponents of free schools making crap up to scare people.

buddyhell said...

Good that you admit that free schools are being ideologically driven. You betray yourself by saying "I haven't caught proponents of free schools making crap up to scare people". I beg to differ. The proponents of free schools are quite content to attack the state school system without offering any real ideas of how they can be improved. Instead, proponents of free schools talk about setting up schools that are so separated from the state school system that they may as well be independent. Free schools will take money from extant state schools. That is a fact.