OFFICIALS OF Hackney's Learning Trust were confronted by over 250 angry parents, children and supporters at Craven Park School last week. The Trust aims to shut the school, claiming that pupil vacancies and falling standards mean it is no longer viable. But hundreds have attended six consultation meetings, demanding to know the Trust's real agenda.
Parent Marie Ritchie said, "The Trust's arguments don't stand up. We believe this is about money-'saving' money for the Trust and making millions for Hackney Council if they can sell off the school site. We think the whole business stinks."
Dean Ryan, Respect candidate for North East London, said, "The Learning Trust are following an Ofsted agenda. They are quick to condemn children, but what message does it send when they put profits before education? We should keep Craven Park open but shut down the Learning Trust."
The Trust has tried every dirty trick. It attempted to organise consultation during the school holidays. When this failed it organised two crucial meetings on the very day that school reopened after Easter. This did not stop record numbers attending and making loud and forceful protests.
Opposition to the Trust-a company set up by New Labour to run Hackney schools-is spreading throughout the borough. Already parents have demonstrated against a huge shortfall in secondary places and chaotic planning for primary provision. SOS Craven Park is a campaign organised to keep the school open. Kim Thomas from SOS says, "The Trust thought it could just push through this closure. It has met with a wall of resistance-a great show of unity from every part of the community. The Trust is already in trouble-now it is digging a bigger and bigger hole."