Now campaigners and activists not associated with the previous campaign are calling on people to converge on the sports ground, re-squat the site and put a halt to this, the latest corporate grab of UK education, sending a clear message to the investors and the government – hands off our schools and our children.
Residents and teachers have continually squatted the land, halting development, since 2006. In recent weeks local teachers, business owners and residents instigated direct action to draw attention to Ark gaining control of the public sports ground, in order to build their next privatised Academy school, one of six they plan to open by September 2008.
The previous campaigners have now been hit with huge costs and fines, are banned from the site for two years and face prison time for even remotely being involved in any further campaign against the Wembley Ark Academy.
The sports ground has been used by local schools and residents at £1 per session for decades, the local schools in the area do not have their own playing fields. The land is also home to protected trees and various wildlife, including colonies of bats.
When private investor Ark takes over they claim the use of the sports ground will be “affordable” and also claim their will be more amenities there for the local community.
But, as parents have been finding out while visiting the site, expecting to see a nice big shiny new school – the school is not built yet. In the meantime, from September 2008 60 pupils, 200 pupils by September 2009, will be temporarily housed while the school is built around them, leaving them in the middle of a construction site, breathing construction dust and put at risk from overhanging cranes and other construction machinery. And all the while, at the expense of people’s safety, private investor Ark will start raking in the profits, straight from the UK taxpayer.
Local residents have been continually lied to on all issues surrounding this development. The main argument by Brent Council and Ark for the need of the school was 200 children would have no school place, thus no education, if the Academy was not built. But Brent Council neglected to inform residents, and Ark themselves, that there were two other sites in the borough where the school was more needed and appropriate land was available.
Brent Council also neglected to tell residents there were other investor options in the school. Residents were only informed of the Ark investor.
Now it has come to light that Brent Council have been stealing children from other local schools, canvassing parents to change schools to the new Academy, thus reducing pupil numbers at the two remaining state schools in the area. As pupil numbers fall at the state schools, so does the funding, leaving those two schools under threat of closure, leaving only the privately-run school open for business.
Brent Council also promised to relocate all the small local businesses affected by the Wembley Academy development program. To date they are still waiting, despite their imminent eviction of current premises on 31 July 2008.
The age old question now sits on the mouths of those directly affected in the area, and more so by all across the country questioning UK school Academisation – if they are lying, deceiving and cheating at this stage, can these people be trusted to run UK schools?
Tony Blair set up the Academy school system in 2000, where private investors were asked to come up with £2 million investment to buy their very own state school. The further running and redevelopment costs of the school would be footed by the UK taxpayer, usually a fee of around £30 million per school. The government argument for this was with state education failing on many levels the only answer to save UK education was begin a process of “Academisation”, in other words, privatisation.
Now the £2 million is not being paid by the investors. Academy schools no longer have to follow the school curriculum. They are failing worse than the remaining state schools. Expulsion rates are sky-rocketing and the private interests are increasingly gaining control of what is being taught in their schools, leaving children’s education in the hands of some of the largest most powerful companies in the world, as well as some religious groups, which, looking at closely, can only be considered fundamentalist.
The Wembley Park Anti-Academy Camp will be open from this Sunday, 27 July 2008. The plan is to maintain a presence on the site and halt all preparations for the school, sending a clear message to local authorities, the national government, and the private investors, you are not welcome in our schools.
Join the campaign. Save our schools from the hands of the corporate elite. Smash School Privatisation. No to education for profit.
Wembley Park Sports Ground, Bridge road, Wembley, NW9
Nearest tube: Wembley Park (metropolitan and jubilee line)
Turn left out station, walk up to main junction of Bridge Road and Forty Lane, turn left, walk up to left-hand gate where car wash sign is and you’re there.
From Mill Hill or Kensal Rise - 302 (get off at Blackbird Hill)
From Golders Green - 83 (get off at Wembley Asda or Wembley Park tube)
From Brent Cross - 182 (get off at Wembley Asda or Wembley Park tube)
Recent Indymedia Feature on Wembley Teachers Occupation
Smash School Privatisation
Tents should be pitched in the relevant areas, not on the sports field, repect of community and environment at all times.