AS TONY Blair talks of the new 'post-comprehensive' education system, the reality of what that means is hitting home in Hackney, east London. The new Learning Trust, which took over the running of education in August, is pressing ahead with plans to close Kingsland School in July 2003. Some 140 students hadn't found a place in a local secondary school this summer. Kingsland has a long history of campaigning in defence of comprehensive education in Hackney.
It is one of only two mixed secular comprehensives in Hackney. In June 2000, teachers at the school walked out after NUT rep Indro Sen was threatened with victimisation. A mass campaign and lobby of the school led to the dropping of the charges against Sen and the reinstatement of NUT members who had been suspended by the union. Staff and students have worked incredibly hard to turn the school round. When inspectors visited the school in June they stated the school was good or making progress in all categories.
The following week Hackney issued notice that it was consulting over closure. Parents pointed out that other local schools had at most a few spare places. Most of them have long waiting lists. The Defend Kingsland School Campaign has started petitioning and campaigning. It held a meeting last week attended by some 70 people, addressed by the chair of the governors, a student at the school, Jane Bassett from Hackney NUT, and Paul Foot, the Socialist Alliance candidate for mayor.
There was support for a demonstration in defence of the school. Speakers from the floor raised the defence of Indro Sen, who has now been dismissed by the school.
Petitioning and leafleting need to be stepped up, and it is important that plans for a demonstration are followed up, and the wider community involved. We need to support the campaign to secure the reinstatement of Indro Sen.
Send messages of support to Defend Kingsland School Campaign, Kingsland School, Shacklewell Lane, London E8 2EY. Fax 020 7249 0289.
Support Indro Sen-send messages of support to HTA Office, 2nd Floor, 2 Hillman Street, E8 1DY.