Parents and staff at Worthing High – where there has been a one-day protest strike – have been enraged by the way headteacher Alison Beer and chairman of governors Tony Cohen have dismissed their opposition and refused meaningful dialogue. Such has been the duo's anxiety to avoid their critics that they even switched a governors' meeting away from the school in South Farm Road because there was a protest outside, fleeing to the safe refuge of Mr Cohen's Nsure business premises.
The pro-Academy clique have been quick to dismiss opposition to their plans as "political". Worthing Herald columnist Ian Hart, for instance, admitted publicly he was a Worthing High governor in the May 31 edition of the paper. A couple of weeks later, on June 14, he felt emboldened to weigh in on the controversy, declaring: "I do get the feeling some people are opposed to it for merely political reasons and nothing to do with the future education of our youngsters." Mr Hart, a commentator whose views, as The Porkbolter has previously pointed out, could kindly be described as very right-wing, obviously hopes readers will fail to spot that he may have his very own "political reasons" for supporting the bid.
And, indeed, the whole policy of transferring our schools out of public control and into the hands of unaccountable business-style organisations is nothing if not political in origin. There are even a number of organisations in existence whose sole purpose seems to be to promote the gradual conversion of public education into state-funded training for the future workforces of those wealth-creating heroes of "the business community".
One of these is Education and Employers, which explains on its website (http://www.educationandemployers.org) that it is "committed to deepening relationships between schools and colleges and employers". Its Taskforce Trustees, chaired by David Cruickshank, chairman of Deloitte LLP, include Don Robert, chief executive of Experian plc; John Griffith-Jones, chairman of KPMG; Sir Richard Lambert, former director general of the CBI; Terry Duddy, chief executive of the Home Retail Group; Sir William Castell, chairman of the Wellcome Trust; Rod Bristow, chairman of Pearson UK and Peter Dart, director of WPP plc. Former trustees include bosses of Rolls-Royce, Rothschild and HSBC – all the sort of people who have made Britain the marvellously egalitarian place it is today.
Education and Employers has also set up an Expert Group of Governance, which declares on the website: "Enhancing the partnership between education and employers in the governing of our schools – and indeed through the governing of our schools – is clearly an important and substantial matter." Since the whole organisation seems geared up to facilitate a business takeover of our children's education, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the Expert Group of Governance is so blatant about its agenda – openly admitting that it aims to use the governing of our schools to open the doors to private companies and their requirements. But more startling for Worthing people is that our little town seems to be somewhat overrepresented on the Expert Group – it only has 20 members and two of them are from here. And who are they? None other than Tony Cohen of Nsure, chairman of the governors at Worthing High, and Alison Beer, headteacher at the very same Worthing High!
The Porkbolter asks the Worthing public to consider which side in this controversy is the one with the real hidden political agenda...
* Opponents of the Worthing High academy bid are urged to sign a new petition at: http://epetition.westsussex.public-i.tv/epetition_core/community/petition/1952
Worthing High Academy Action Group can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW lucky are the people of East Worthing and Shoreham to have Tim Loughton as their MP! Take, as an example, Tory Tim's statement on his website on why he opposes Gay marriages. He writes: "From my personal perspective, when I entered into a Church of England marriage with my wife 20 years ago this July, and with my father presiding as the local rector, it was a tremendously special and solemn occasion. It was characterised by the part of the Church of England marriage service which defines marriage as: 'a gift of God in creation through which husband and wife may know the grace of God."
With all the sleaze and immorality in public life, most MPs would be wary of issuing such statements, for fear that it would set them up for public humiliation if their vices were ever exposed. But Tim's forthright message surely proves once and for all that his personal life is wholesome and beyond reproach - and for that, if nothing else, his constituents should be truly grateful. Amen.
WELL done to the dozen or so supporters of the Worthing Freedom Campaign who picketed Worthing police station in Chatsworth Road earlier in the summer in protest at the draconian Section 30 "Dispersal Order" imposed on the town until the end of August, for reasons which are still unclear. The disproportionate and unnecessary police-state legislation was slapped on us by Sussex Police, with the political backing of the right-wing Tory council. The Argus reported at the time: "Under the order police officers and police community support officers can tell any problem groups of two or more people to leave the area and not return for up to 24 hours. Anyone who refuses or breaches the notice can be arrested and could face three months in jail or a fine of up to £2,500." How could someone be jailed or fined huge amounts of money without having been found guilty of any offence? It only takes one pig-headed prejudiced copper (and there are plenty of them around, in our experience!) to take a dislike to you and you are effectively banned from parts of your own home town without any right to defend yourself! If anyone is committing a crime, there are plenty of laws in place to deal with it, without this catch-all type of legislation which treats us all as criminals. For more info see http://worthingfreedom.blogspot.co.uk In other cop news, Sussex Police's Chief Constable Martin Richards is being investigated by the IPCC (Worthing Herald, July 12) after an accusation was made that he used "undue influence" - further details have not yet been revealed. And a separate report by the IPCC (The Guardian, May 25) revealed that more than 8,500 allegations about corruption had been received about police in England and Wales in three years - but only a measly 13 cops have actually been prosecuted and found guilty.
Published and printed by The Porkbolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright, no moral holes in our political agenda, Mr Loughton.