Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Letter on Carpet Right's takeover of education in north Croydon

Dear Editor,

With regard to Dave Hill’s response to my letter, I am glad we are both in agreement that all children in Croydon should be provided first class education. To prove this point he champions the GCSE results of Harris Academy Crystal Palace but he fails to offer an explanation to how this has been achieved.

Harris Academy Crystal Palace is presently oversubscribed to the tune of ten applicants to one place; unsurprisingly the GCSE results are attracting parents north of the borough to select this school for their children. But how exactly has this improvement been achieved? The answer is the historical detail; something Mr Hill may not be too familiar with, as he is new to Croydon.

Twenty five years ago when I was entering secondary education north of the borough, the options my parents had were completely different to what is available now. Apart from the faith and private schools, Sylvan, Stanley Tec, Lanfranc, Norbury Manor for Boys, Selhurst and Ingram were all local to me.

Nowadays, Sylvan and Stanley Tec are part of the Harris Federation and Norbury Manor, Selhurst and Ingram are now closed. Immediately, one can see there is a shortage of boys places available north of the borough. Crucially, this gives the opportunity for Harris Academy to select the high achieving pupils from its wider catchment, and it can do this using its entrance examination. Maybe this is why the government’s own evaluation report on Academies published last month states "there is insufficient evidence to make a definitive judgment about academies as a model for school improvement".

The council has identified that two thirds of Haling Manor students reside north of the borough. Given that Harris is now the preferred sponsor for Haling Manor, are we witnessing the monopolisation of school places by a carpet dealer (Carpet Right), especially as now Lanfranc is earmarked for Academy status?

Seeing that this Tory council are defending Academies to the hilt by even relying on public servants to respond to letters, maybe they would like to offer a rejoinder on whether Lord Harris’ financial backing of David Cameron had a bearing when selecting his Federation as preferred sponsor?

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party and Croydon SOS.

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