Camden education campaigners protest against �200million cuts

EDUCATION campaigners from Camden s schools are to take to the streets on Monday (July 19) to protest at the government s decision to withdraw around �200million earmarked for a mammoth rebuilding project of Camden s ageing schools. Governors, teachers a

EDUCATION campaigners from Camden's schools are to take to the streets on Monday to protest at the government's decision to withdraw around �200million earmarked for a mammoth rebuilding project of Camden's ageing schools.

Governors, teachers and parents from across the borough will meet in the Methodist Central Hall in Parliament Square with campaigners and MPs from around the country.

The protest rally has been called after the government's controversial announcement last week to scrap the long-anticipated Building Schools for Future (BSF) programme in Camden.

This week Camden Council confirmed it had already spent �5million on the project. Money which will now go to waste.

Andrew Baisley Secretary of Camden's branch of NUT said: "Camden has been hit appallingly with 12 of it its 15 projects cancelled and three put under review.

"This is very disappointing as Camden schools are no longer fit for purpose apart from Haverstock School.

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"I think the lobby of Parliament on Monday will help focus ministers' minds on the importance of BSF to the parents, teachers and students of England."

For the past four years, schools across the borough have been drawing up plans to refurbish their buildings and upgrade IT facilities as part of Labour's BSF programme.

But last Monday, the Education Secretary Michael Gove, announced that funding promised for Acland Burghley, William Ellis, Parliament Hill, Camden School for Girls, La Sainte Union, Maria Fidelis, Hampstead School, and Haverstock have all been scrapped. The new flagship UCL Academy and Swiss Cottage special educational needs (SEN) school, both on Adelaide Road and the transformation of Somers Town's South Camden Community School are to be reviewed over the next few weeks. Plans to close Jack Taylor Special School have also been stopped even though it is a key part of the Swiss Cottage SEN development.

Fiona Millar a governor at William Ellis School said: "All the Camden schools involved in BSF had different needs and they are bitterly disappointed. The whole programme has been misrepresented by the Tories as a scheme to build shiny new palaces. The only new palace will be the academy."

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We are not going back on our decision on BSF. Camden and many London boroughs are facing shortages of primary school places because of rising pupil numbers - ministers are clear that is the immediate priority for investment.

"Schools are still going to be built and refurbished - but in the light of tighter public spending, projects must be more realistic, affordable, cost-effective and better value-for-money than BSF."

Anyone is invited to take part in the rally at the Methodist Church on Monday July 19 from 12:30 - 1pm the group will meet with Frank Dobson MP in a room in Methodist Central Hall. Then from 1 to 2pm there will be a national lobby meeting in Methodist Central Hall

Are you taking part in the rally?

For the full story see today's Ham & High.