Tuesday, October 30, 2007

City Academy letter


Dear Editor,

Having just read Cllr Speakman’s letter (Croydon Advertiser, October 19th), I feel compelled to remind your readers of a couple of points regarding the plans to hurry the handover of Coulsdon High to the unaccountable private body: Oasis Trust.
Just this week a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts select committee revealed the majority of City Academies have gone millions of pounds over budget. This automatically raises concerns that the Government will pinch funds from other schools in order to meet shortfalls.
Additionally, the select committee found that a small number of Academies were unbelievably paying their own sponsors to provide key services.

Steve Chalke, the founder of Oasis Trust, may well be an impressive individual who is enthusiastic about his plans for Coulsdon High; but it is important to remember that every business or church that has previously been handed millions of pounds of public money to turn a school in to City Academy also made a great impression on local parents. This includes the City Academies that are now failing, overspending and even paying their sponsors.

The jury is still out on the Oasis Trust. Their first City Academies, Enfield and Immingham (Lincoln) only went live this September. In other words, there is no track record for parents to view in order to make an informed decision. Instead, they appear to be pressured into taking the Oasis Trust option - an option which will allow the Oasis Trust control of all aspects of the Academy including, staff appointments, pupil admissions, curriculum and governance arrangements.

I congratulate the staff, parents and pupils in taking Coulsdon High out of ‘special measures’ status. The council and Government must now match this determination by directly investing in the school and not through an unaccountable private body.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party

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