Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1128/32313
From The Socialist, April 7, 2021
Italo Savastio, Socialist Party of South West London
The process of selecting a high school for your child can be overwhelming for many parents. In 2005, I watched a dozen of them and chose Pimlico. The manager seemed a nice guy and the management team honest. No spin doctoring on their part. Nothing seemed staged, unlike some of the other schools I’ve seen.
In Pimlico, what you saw is what you got – I thought. Despite years of underfunding the Conservative-controlled Westminster City Council, it did not strike me as ‘underperforming’. They even celebrated better exam results that year.
My son started grade 7 in September 2006. So it was a huge shock when the school failed Ofsted’s inspection later that year. None of the parents, teachers, and governors I spoke to believed the school was a failure. Weaknesses yes, but no special measures. Some pointed out that the inspectors wanted to serve an improvement notice but were pressured by council leaders to fail to justify converting to academy status.
In the meantime, the director has resigned and has been replaced for an interim period by an “inspiring super-director”, Jo Shuter, Tony Blair’s favorite director. So “great” that she was expected to run two tough inner-city schools at the same time, Pimlico and Quintin Kynaston.
When she first addressed a parent assembly in early 2007, I was in disbelief as she lashed out at the school, saying her weaknesses were even worse than her findings. Ofsted. She was named Director of the Year in 2007.
Forward until 2014, when she was banned from teaching for life for misuse of her school’s funds (overturned on appeal three years later by a panel of the Ministry of Education). This included spending over £ 6,000 for his 50th birthday party, £ 8,000 for a one-night stay at a top hotel for his management team and £ 1,500 on furniture delivered to his home.
Despite organized protests from parents and staff and the vast majority of opposing stakeholders, Pimlico converted to academy status in 2008. It was a done deal from start to finish. John, now Lord, Nash’s millionaire Conservative donor, “won” the auction.
Under his Future Academies channel, we hear that kids learn about kings and queens in history lessons. It was the Russian Revolution and the Spanish Civil War that I learned when I first saw Pimlico for my eldest child in 1999 while visiting the history department!
There was no school uniform. Back then, if you were politically on the left and lived in the catchment area, you would likely choose Pimlico as the school to send your child to. What happened in 2007-2008 was akin to a counter-revolution in school ethics.
I had witnessed a similar experience years earlier at Holland Park, the “Eton of the Comprehensive,” although academy status came there later. As I walked past this school recently, I found it unrecognizable. A chic new building that resembles the headquarters of a large investment bank, a symbol of the commercial enterprises that academies have become under capitalism. It is time to claim our schools as well funded and democratically controlled comprehensive schools.
In The Socialist of April 7, 2021:
Pay NHS staff 15%!
Racism exists! Unite to fight against all inequalities
Report condones police vigilante violence – democratic community control is a necessity
Low-wage workers shouldn’t pay for the Covid crisis
The system is broken … young people unite and fight back
Fight Fund: Incredible £ 39,948 Raised
Sexism in Education: It Shouldn’t Be Like This!
Protests at the Pimlico Academy: “Run by racists for profit”
Academies have become businesses
Mistrust continues against anti-demonstration bill
London: #BuhariMustGo protests are back
Councilors have a choice – don’t vote for cuts
Former Labor parliamentary candidate to run for TUSC
NEU elections: elect a socialist leadership to fight for national action and a united campaign
Election of GMB secretary general: a fighting and socialist leadership necessary
Sparks spark deskilling protests at Hinkley Point
Marley Tiles workers strike against intimidating bosses
New deadline and strike dates for British Gas
Bristol Water walkout
Childcare in crisis: a socialist solution
Right-wing Labor and Conservative commissioners from Liverpool!
1981 Brixton Riots: Racism and poverty – anger explodes
Brazil: Bolsonaro’s regime plunges into deeper crisis
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The Socialist April 7, 2021 |
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