Democracy in Peckham’s schools

I wasn’t surprised to read that the Harris Academy at Peckham has taken an injunction out against Jacqui Fergus. Faced with the undemocratic nature of Academy schools, Miss Fergus took the only route available – protesting about exclusion with parents outside the school. Figures last year revealed the Academy has a temporary exclusion rate that is three times the national average.

Labour have sold us into a Faustian pact, letting a Tory Lord buy up community schools in the hope that standards will improve. Never mind that we hand over control of the school to unaccountable governors, selected by a man with an estimated wealth of £285m.

Southwark has been pretty gung-ho for academy schools, in contrast to Lewisham where Greens have helped keep schools in the hands of local people. In August I added my vote to the new Green Party education policy, which includes a freeze on expansion of Academy schools and an immediate change to the unaccountable Board so that the sponsor’s appointees are limited to 25% voting rights.

In the meantime, parents in Peckham can only hope that the Harris Academy finds a way to tackle bad behaviour without resorting so quickly to temporary exclusion, and without gagging concerned parents. It’s not exactly the best way to teach young people about democracy!

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