Today I should have been taking my music centre band [East Steel] to play at a local primary school's summer fayre, but I took my eye off that ball. And, instead, I'm having to concentrate on exposing the dirty dealings behind latest BSF news in Leeds.
Astonished to see City of Leeds School's name in the list of cancelled BSF projects, I wrote this in the Leeds Guardian online:
Well, I don't think that the list is all it claims to be.
Let's just take my own City of Leeds School. It's under of threat of closure, not refurbishment. The building is in excellent condition, and the school itself, with two successful Ofsteds within an twelve month period, a fabulous public campaign, not one but two EDMs in Parliament, a petition - growing steadily past the 1000 signature mark and growing - well, the school itself should, if there's any justice, survive. And its relatively modern and well constructed building won't need anything more than a bit of enlarging as its present success starts to re-attract those who were put off by Education Leeds' unecessary negative publicity.
So, unless there was some sneaky bid put in by anybody to rebuild or alter the building after they had got rid of us pesky inner-city children and their teachers, well, we were never on this BSF list.
Secondly. Be under no illsions. The BSF programme in Leeds [at least] was designed to prop up the construction industry. But none of the new school buildings are fit for educational purpose. Plus, all the new builds are awash with leaking roofs and the rest, and, in general, what the Institute of Architects called, "an opportunity missed". If any school in Leeds has lost out in the BSF stakes, they should count their blessings.
Then Adele Beeson [City of Leeds School parent and council candidate] wrote this below:
7 Jul 2010, 10:10PM
When Education Leeds first proposed the closure of City of Leeds they were proposing to put a 'vocational hub' on the site (not that they could or would explain to us what they meant by that - it was just a scam to get the 14-19 money labour was offering and which has now also been cut) and they did mention when asked at the public meeting that they expected to be getting BSF money to fund the change of use.
I suspect they have already applied for funding for the 'hub' before it has even gone through consultation (they said they can't consult on that till they get the go ahead to close City). It's certainly not to rebuild the school and if the school's head and governors don't even know why they are on this list then I also suspect we are a lot better off without the funding - no funding means Ed Leeds can't afford to replace the school with something else.
'Knew there had to be something good about Gove's plans somewhere, it just took me a very long time to see it!
So, all that talk about have to agree to close the school before you could officially consider what to do with the building, it seems that wasn't happening like that at all, and Adele's suspicions seem confirmed. I quote from Vernon Coaker's letter of the 13th January 2010 to the Chief Executive of Education Leeds:
National Challenge in Leeds
During our discussions about National Challenge last summer you agreed to set out for us how you would enhance support and accelerate the delivery of the long term solutions for the most vulnerable secondary schools in Leeds.
. . .I am pleased to see that the plan includes firm proposals for Academies to replace primrose High School and Parklands Girls High School by 2011 . . . . . . I also note your intention to close City of Leeds School and the site for a 14-19 hub, again by 2011.
Well, heigh-ho. If it hadn't been for that cove, Gove cancelling the project, we in Leeds wouldn't have known that Education Leeds was actually carrying on with the hub idea [aka Let's-have-no-places-for-years-seven-and-eight-in inner-city-Leeds].
Somebody offers Education Leeds some money, and they just say, yes, we'll take it. That it is to close a school, in this case, which has passed two Ofsteds within one year, one with the tougher new framework, and that it would remove schooling altogether for 11-14 year-olds in Hyde Park and Woodhouse - who cares? I think we know someone who doesn't. I'm wondering if They don't have shares in some construction companies.
When Vernon, thankfully very late of the Department of This, That and The Other described Parklands, Primrose and City as the most vulnerable secondary schools in Leeds, well, let me tell him, they're only vulnerable because the Government department for Education in cahoots with a local education company made them so. The very people put there and paid to care!
As Dizzee would put it,