Glasgow Save our Schools Campaign

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Super-school to be scaled back to 500 Earmarked schools still to close

Parents offered choice of Hillhead or nearest local school,It would be interesting to hear people’s assessment of the latest news on the schools front. I think I share the opinion of the parents who were quoted in the Times which portrayed the news as a “partial victory” for us.

Here’s what I think: Firstly, the positives: the scaling back somewhat of the mega-school is a significant achievement for the campaign. We have exposed and embarrassed them over this crazy plan. Local people have channelled their anger, passion and determination into positive public meetings, lobbies, marches etc brilliantly. In this respect it is a victory of sorts which should inspire us with confidence. They’ve wobbled. However, there is no question in my mind that the campaign must continue- with even greater vigour and urgency! The council’s tactics are utterly scandalous!

Why? Look at the big picture:
* the council’s plan to destroy 4 local community schools goes ahead!
* Most kids – if they get into the “alternative” local schools – will have to travel further to school, still alongside busy roads and parkland.
* How will local kids get into full schools like Hyndland? Will they then have to travel to Hillhead (no choice at all)? And what are the implications for class sizes?
* The council- and our councillors - have AMAZINGLY continued to maintain that class sizes of 33 are desirable for improvement of attainment and behaviour.
* Local buildings will still be sold off to luxury developments with more cars and fewer families in communities.
* So many questions still remain regarding the exact size, layout, roll and site of the new Hillhead school.
* In reality what we’ve been offered are pathetic crumbs from the council’s chopping board and they expect us to be satisfied.
* And what were our elected councillors doing? Were they raising howls of opposition to the monster-sized school and to rocketing class sizes when the community was in uproar? Not a squeak!

So what has happened?
I say the campaign should reject these crumbs of cold comfort and expose this scandal for what it is. At the start of the campaign, some of us thought, what are they up to with this super-sized school, it seems an utterly bizarre proposal, too bad to be taken seriously. Even at the consultation meetings, officials looked rather embarrassed and ill at ease when asked if they’d seen the plans and why they hadn’t even calculated the ration of rooms to kids to teachers!!! Architects advised us it was pie in the sky, the plans had never seen the light of day etc. In short it seemed bound to fail in the teeth of serious opposition.

It could be this super-school is a straw man, a lightning conductor, which would attract great opposition and then the council could bin the idea, come back with some “less bad proposals” and take the credit for “listening” – and their mission, to destroy 4 schools as part of their programme of cuts - is accomplished. This is not a conspiracy theory, it is what happens day in day out in politics: The press reports a leak that the chancellor is putting petrol up by 20p, then when he “only” puts it up by 15p a month later, you think, “Oh well, it’s not as bad as it coulda been!”

I think it would be a fatal mistake if we accepted this “concession” at face value. If they get away with this here and now, they’ll be back for more schools in the future. Throughout this process the council has been banking on “divide and rule”, hoping some parents will accept the closures because they feel their kid/school will benefit. And maybe now some parents are thinking, well it wont be so bad if we get into a good local primary. That’s maybe an understandable reaction at this point. But I would urge everyone in the campaign to stay strong and to ensure people around you know exactly what is going on here and that our demand continues to be: SAVE OUR SCHOOLS- for local, modern, accessible schools with lower class sizes!

Andy Harvey Partick
Bob, 2:10 PM


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