Petitions launched to stop school becoming East End’s first ‘academy’

Petitions are being launched aimed at preventing the controversial move by Bethnal Green Technology College to opt out of local authority control and become the East End’s first independent ‘academy’ school.

Organisers are gathering on Saturday outside Tesco’s store in Bethnal Green Road to urge shoppers and passers-by to sign and to call for volunteers to spread the protest.

One petition is going to the school governors who vote at a crucial meeting in two weeks’ time on whether to apply for ‘academy’ status. A second is going to Tower Hamlets’ council meeting on July 13.

Both petitions were proposed at a public meeting organised by the NUT on Monday involving teachers, parents, councillors and governors and heads from other schools.

Glyn Robbins, coordinator of the ‘Hands Off Our Public Services’ campaign, said: “This is not an issue just involving the school, but the whole community.

“They want to set up a private company to take over the school—it’s not for the governors to hand over our community asset to a private company.”

Two resolutions are also likely to go before Tower Hamlets council on July 13, one from Respect group, the other from the majority Labour Opposition.

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Labour’s Shadow Cabinet this week discussed the ‘academy’ move and is to put together a resolution to the council at its group meeting this coming Monday.

Labour leader Joshua Peck told the East London Advertiser: “The education children receive is best improved by collective action, achieved through the council and schools working together—especially as education resources get tighter.”

The move towards ‘academy’ status is likely to cause divisions in Labour ranks. Its prime mover is the school’s chair of governors Graham Taylor, Tower Hamlets Labour Party chairman and election agent for MPs Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushanara Ali. He has been criticised for “breaking ranks” with Labour’s education policy.

Head teachers from other Tower Hamlets schools voiced opposition at a public meeting two weeks ago when they accused the governors of wanting to ‘go it alone’ after having had �17 million invested in a new campus from public coffers.