Academies have become businesses



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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.

Financial appeal

The coronavirus crisis has exposed the class character of society in many ways. This clearly shows to many that it is the working class that makes society run, not the CEOs of big companies.

The results of austerity have been shown graphically as utilities struggle to cope with the crisis.

  • The material of the Socialist Party is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report workers fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels etc.
  • We must be prepared for the stormy events to come and the need to arm the labor movements with a socialist program – a program that puts the health and needs of mankind before the profits of the few.

Inevitably, during the crisis, we were not able to sell the socialist and raise funds as we normally would.

We therefore urge all our viewers to donate to our Fight Fund.

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

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Former Labor parliamentary candidate to run for TUSC

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Childcare in crisis: a socialist solution


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1981 Brixton Riots: Racism and poverty – anger explodes

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Readers’ reviews

The Socialist Inbox


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