If I were to describe to you a scenario where a College in one of the most deprived diverse areas of London was to close and the site was bought by Government, with tax payers money, to be handed over to an free school organisation whose chair has a track record of articulating the most disgusting right wing racism, you would think me quite mad and rightly so.
Unfortunately in the world of Education Secretary Michael Gove such things are what dreams are made off by plans to close Brixton College.
Brixton is changing and changing fast, in part because of the manufactured austerity economic crisis, in addition to housing market that is out of control and a stealth agenda of creeping gentrification.
Take a walk around Brixton and you will see what I mean, parts of it resemble Kensington and there are those, including the local council who seem more than happy with theses developments.
Brixton is the black capital of Europe and the UK. This status is now under threat as a consequence of savage public sector and welfare cuts and the ideological extremism of a Tory party that knows the cost of everything, and the value of nothing.
Alongside the gentrification of Brixton we see a determined effort by the new middle class residents of the locale to pressurise the local Council and the Police into taking action to 'clean up' Brixton.
What do the shiny new residents of Brixton need? Shiny new predominantly white free schools to teach their children.
Late last year staff and students at Lambeth College were shocked by the announcement that the college is to lose 70% of its Brixton Centre campus and turned not yet anther free school. it is to be noted that there is pare capacity in Lambeth's existing free schools that are undersubscribed .
Black Activist Against the Cuts (BARAC) have been part of a growing community campaign to stop the sale and to keep and expand the provision of further education in Brixton. Staff, students and The local community is outraged at this recent development in the college’s plans, which will see a reduction in the Brixton centre from 6000 to 2000 sq feet, with a loss of two thirds of the current number of classrooms, as the site is sold to the government Department of Education (DfE) for £18 million.
The hypocrisy of the Government means they are prepared to spend our tax payers money to buy the College and in effect close it rather than give that cash to Brixton College to expand further education provision. This government strategy is to close colleges, increase university student fees and build more prisons.
We disagree that this massive reduction of the Brixton Centre campus is “really good news for the College and the community” as has been presented by the College and
With 1.2 million young people in Britain out of work and in Lambeth 70% young black men unemployed, we believe that it Further Education is absolutely vital to providing a pathway out of poverty and alienation.
Brixton College provides vital educational opportunities for adults with disabilities and learning difficulties, for young people who need to re-engage with education, and for migrants and those with English as a 2nd language (ESOL) who need to learn English to improve their lives
The fact that local MP Chuka Ummuna and Lambeth Leader of the Council Liz Peck seems unconcerned should be of no surprise to anyone.
Despite strong local opposition the college has decided to press on with its plans to sell 70% of the Brixton Centre campus and as a result BARAC will continue to campaign alongside Lambeth Unison, the UCU, the NUT and Unite the Community
The proposed new Trinity Free School is even more worrying given its chaired by a Mr Dennis Sewell whose views on the issues facing poor working class and black communities are breathtaking in their arrogance , racist sentiment and patronising tone.
He writes regularly for the right wing Spectator magazine and has revealed himself as an arch bigot and right wing ideologue. Here are a number of his views as written for the Spectator.
Commentating on poor inner city neighbourhoods he says;
"The neighbourhoods in which they live are falling apart. The squalor is palpable; crime rampant; local schools are very often failing or ‘sink’ schools. If you think I’m exaggerating, choose any area with a high level of welfare-dependency and go and look for yourself."
Dennis Sewell - Spectator Nov 2009
On his attitude to inequality and poverty in the UK he says;
"We need the filthy rich to feel right at home here."
Dennis Sewell - Spectator Sept 2011
And finally here he speak of the Tottenham disurtbances following the shooting, by Police of Mark Duggan:
"I wonder what he made of the savagery on display in the streets of Tottenham. Would he express the same mixture of puzzlement and dismay that David Livingstone had felt when, sent out by the London Missionary Society, he first encountered the thieving Chiboque tribe beyond the Zambezi? ‘I was very struck by what seemed to be a vacuum of ethical values,’ Fr Darline says. ‘It was as if they had no system by which to judge what they should do, or not do. You would see someone presented with the opportunity to loot a shop and it was like watching a cat on a wall — will it jump this way, or that? In many cases it seemed there had been an absence of any ethical dimension in upbringing or education."
Dennis Sewell - Spectator - 21 Dec 2011
It is scandalous that Michael Gove cannot find Brixton College but can find an &£18 million giveaway to this racist bigot who will now run a school in our community. I say hell no... Join us in defeating the mad man Gove and his attempt to give away one of most precious assets to someone who is big donor to the Tory party and arch racist too boot.
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Wednesday 26 March – NUT Strike – please support striking teachers and visit picket lines to give out flyers
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