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Socialist Party Leicester

 International Socialist Resistance activity in Leicester - The campaign against the "City Academy"

 Stop school privatisation in Leicester - Protest at Reg Vardy garage (Oct 2002)

More pictures from Vardy protest

Stop school privatisation in Leicester - Occupation of Reed employment (August 2002)

More photos from ISR occupation of Reed Employment agency in Leicester 14/8/02

"Would you buy a privatised education from this man? 12/10/02

More pictures

Last Saturday, International Socialist Resistance (ISR) members and supporters invaded a Leicester car showroom owned by Reg Vardy car dealerships. The protest was part of our on-going campaign against school privatisation. Reg Vardy boss, Sir Peter Vardy, one of the richest men in Britain, is a "sponsor" of the new privatised City Academies being set up by New Labour.

We unfurled a big banner saying "No school sell off" and held up placards to the showroom windows saying: "Reg Vardy: Wanna buy a second hand education from this man?", "Fat cats out of our schools" and "Yes to local schools - No to privatisation".

The thug manager ("I'm a registered doorman") and his henchmen then showed the delicate touch that presumably Vardy schools would show their pupils and physically manhandled one protester out of the showroom. One of the manager's mates took off his jacket and offered another protester a fight. Since we had entered peacefully and were determined that it be a non-violent protest, the rest then left and continued the protest outside, handing out leaflets to passers-by and getting hoots of support from passing traffic.

The manager seemed upset that we could interfere with his business, but this is exactly what his boss is doing with state education!

We later continued with a stall in the city centre, petitioning and leafleting to make the public aware of what is happening.

The Labour City Council is proposing that a City Academy, plus another school, be built on the sites of two of the schools they shut down three years ago! At the time they argued, against a massive campaign to save them, that there were too many schools in Leicester. They are now arguing 180 degrees differently, but this time with the poisonous twist of privatisation. One of the schools, Wycliffe has recently been demolished at the cost to the council taxpayer of 400,000; the other is yet to be knocked down.

The City Academy will cost the public 18million to build; the private "sponsor" will put in 2 million. The sponsor will then own the school buildings and land (the land alone is worth at least 1 million according to the education chair). The sponsor manages the school and receives a budget from the government, money which will be taken away from other Leicester schools.

A City Academy can be selective, and can vary pay and conditions of staff from national agreements and can select its own governing body eliminating any element of democratic community control.

Also worrying is the fact that the sponsor has a high degree of control over the curriculum. At the "City Technical College" (Tory forerunner of the academies) in Gateshead where Vardy is the sponsor, a furore was caused by the fact that "creationism" is taught in science lessons. This is the idea that Darwinism is wrong, that the world was created a few thousand years ago literally as its says in the bible. Basically anyone with a couple of million to spare can buy a school and teach their pet prejudice as fact!

Vardy now has control of the City Academy being established in Middlesborough where his first act was to appoint a "creationist" as head (TES 26/7/02)

If you look down the list of sponsors of the first wave of City Academies you notice that most of them are Labour Party supporters and donors. They include such educational experts as "venture capitalists", property developers, employment agencies, sports marketers, cargo companies, stockbrokers and construction firms. A long list of altruistic philanthropists? - I don't think so.

The council has not let on who they are talking to, but we wanted to highlight some of the potential sponsors.

After a campaign by local teaching unions, a revolt by the Education Scrutiny Committee, and to pacify their own rebels, the Labour Council passed a motion to do an independent study before proceeding.

The motion talks about the school not being selective, promoting the values of comprehensive education, and a lot of other well-meaning phrases. However, once the school is in the hands of the sponsor - what real power would the council have to enforce these principles? The whole point of these schools is that they are taken out of any democratic community or local authority control. If the government has 18 million or so to spare why not put it into genuine locally controlled education in Leicester.

The campaign continues around the themes of: "yes to local schools, but no to privatisation"

More pictures


Reed: "Buying permission to interfere"?

A group of protestors today peacefully occupied Reed Recruitment Agency to highlight the dangers presented by the privatisation of education, in particular the creation of a privatised 'City Academy' in Leicester.

At around 12pm today 17 people, members of International Socialist Resistance along with friends and supporters from the local community assembled outside Reed Recruitment Agency in Leicester's market square. Carrying banners with the slogans 'Keep Fatcats out of education' and 'Reed: "Buying permission to interfere"' several people entered the premises and refused to leave. While others handed out leaflets to the crowds outside, Reed's window was decorated with banners and 'spoof' job vacancies - 'School Governor wanted: no previous experience necessary, must have lots of wonga, call inside and ask for Tony'.

Staff repeatedly requested the protestors to leave but as one person said "Alec Reed decided to interfere with education so we'll interfere with his business".

At this point the police were called and an officer promptly attended the scene. After negotiations with protestors and staff the demo was moved to the pavement outside where a brief rally was held and more material distributed and signatures collected for a petition.

This action was an attempt to raise awareness as to the kind of people who could become the owner of Leicester's new "City Academy". Alec Reed, owner of Reed Executive and Labour Party donor, already owns one school in London and with many millions of pounds to invest (his fortune is suspected to be in the region of 50 million pounds) he is a strong candidate.

Alec Reed has said in the past that the present school curriculum should be 'torn up and thrown away' and that his investment 'buys him permission to interfere'.

Alec Reed is a pioneer of the violently capitalistic school of thought known as 'Peoplism' and believes that free enterprise should be taught to children of all ages. If he became the owner of Leicester's city academy this belief could be realised and local children's education effected.

James Scott, a spokesperson for the Leicester branch of International Socialist Resistance said "We recognise the need for children to receive a high standard of education and encourage the creation of new schools to achieve this. However we do not believe that individuals with huge amounts of money to invest should be handed control of these schools for them to use as they see fit. Instead we need fully publicly funded, comprehensive schools under democratic local control."


Background information:

The proposal to create a "City Academy" on the site of the former Mary Linwood school has left many people wondering who will provide the private funding and what implications this will have for the children of Leicester and the standard of education they will receive. As part of the Labour Government's new privatisation policy 10% of funding required to establish a new school comes from the private sector. Even though the remaining 90%, along with the running costs, is fronted by the taxpayer the private backer is considered the owner and is handed control of the whole school. With "City Academies" being exempt from the national curriculum this gives the owner free reign over what children can be taught.

More photos from ISR occupation of Reed Employment agency in Leicester 14/8/02

For more info on the school privatisation plans go to school campaign archives.

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