Published: 4 July, 2013
• MICHAEL Gove appears to be trying to donate the site of the former Ashmount School to private education companies to open a free school.
For a government that proclaims localism as one of its core themes, and claims to be devolving power to communities, it’s a strange thing to take £3m out of Islington Council’s finances in order to hand the site over to private enterprise.
The old Ashmount School has been rebuilt in a splendid new building on the site of the former bowlers’ community centre and is doing well in an efficient, low-energy building.
Ashmount, as anyone who has ever worked there knows, had real problems over insulation and ventilation because of its design. Its site was earmarked for new homes, the vast majority of which would be for social rent to help deal with the housing crisis the borough faces.
Mr Gove’s obsession with free schools undermines the concept of the local “family” of school provision, but also undermines the need to have fully-qualified staff, or an ethos acceptable to all communities.
This is part of a wider ambition to privatise a great deal of education and hand schools to private sector providers. He should be aware that Sweden, which he frequently quotes as being a good example, recently found 10,000 pupils in a state of limbo as an education provider, JB Education, went bust.
Our primary and secondary schools do a brilliant job in inspiring children to achieve the very best in publicly-owned schools that are not trying to make a profit out of parents or the public sector. Mr Gove doesn’t seem to be able to understand this.
Labour MP, Islington North
Rosemary Plummer, UNISON Schools Convenor adds:
"The old Ashmount school should be knocked to the ground due to it being in a state of disrepair and as proposed the 140 new homes that are desperately needed should be rebuilt.
We support the campaign against this and any "free schools".