Sunday, April 05, 2009

Letter to the Croydon Advertiser re Haling Manor 'consultation' meeting

Dear Editor,

I feel compelled to write to your paper having attended the Haling Manor sham consultation meeting, for its conversion to Harris Academy Purley.

Once the slide show presentation narrated by the Chief Executive of Harris Federation was over, a procession of parents, students and concerned individuals took turns to slam the proposal. In fact, a number were at pains to point out that the deal was already done because the position for headmaster is already being advertised.

Pupils and parents bombarded the panel with facts and experiences that indicate why Haling Manor is rated in the top 3 per cent in the country when taking into account the numbers of pupils on free school meals, special educational needs and English not spoken as a first language.

By the end of the evening the Harris contingent and representatives from the council looked beleaguered and isolated. Unbelievablely, Mr Moynihan, the Harris Chief Executive, asserts in your article that the meeting "went very well!". Dave Hill, the Director of Children’s services, struggled to keep the frustration of so many under control.

The most memorable moment for me occurred when a Haling Manor pupil stood up and asked why Lord Harris (Harris Carpets), who was keen to point out how wealthy he had become with just one GCSE, couldn’t just give the school £1 million pound if he wanted to improve the school; was it because of his ego that he needed to take it over and emblazon the front of the school with his name? It bears all the hallmarks of a chainstore retailer looking for suitable premises.

Earlier the Harris and council representatives stated that Haling Manor was a good school and the headmaster was great. The whole thing is nonsense.

Labour councillors attempting to represent the objecting voices are dismissed by the Conservatives as being opportunistic because Labour Minsters, Jim Knight and Ed Balls, agree with the Tory proposals.

The only lifeline left for the council must be to hold a fair ballot on the decision. One was offered to parents in Sheffield when similar disgust was vented at the council.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party

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