Ben Stevenson Speaks Out on the Constituency’s Education Problems

Ben Stevenson, Croydon North Communist Party candidate , said today, “The shortage of school places in Croydon North has rightly become a significant issue in this by-election. The situation is only getting worse as the Tory-led coalition Government pushes New Labour’s education policies to their logical conclusion. I think it’s really disturbing that these divisive policies are felt particularly badly in Croydon North.”

The Communist Party has a long-standing involvement in the fight against privatisation and for decent education in Croydon. Research by the party has identified a number of real problems in the area. The proposed Free School in Norbury, in the old Age Concern UK building, is notably lacking in outdoor space for playtime or sport. It’s designed to take only 90 five-year-olds when it opens in September 2014. This is not a long-term solution to the acute shortage of primary school places in the north of Croydon. To compound problems, free schools do not have to employ qualified teachers – neither do mainstream schools and academies as a result of recent changes introduced by the Government.

Mr Stevenson said, “It’s deeply worrying to hear that a new grammar school is proposed by the Tories at the old CALAT site in South Norwood. This will have to be an annexe of an existing selective school in neighbouring Bromley or Sutton in order to get round the Tory party’s national commitment to not establish any new selective schools. Not only does this constitute a loss of democratic control and local accountability, it also represents a return to a form of educational apartheid which labels 4 out of 5 children as ‘failures’. This speaks volumes about the Government’s education priorities!”

Croydon Council’s ruling Tories’ recent decision to cut the £78,000 grant to the Croydon Supplementary Education Project – which provides Saturday and evening extra teaching for black children – is another real setback. There was no justification for doing this. It will have an immediate impact on the more vulnerable residents in Croydon North because BME groups are in the majority in six out of eight wards in the constituency.

Mr Stevenson concluded, “Communist Party education policy is based on four simple principles: the right of all children to non-selective and free comprehensive primary and secondary education; the right of every child to a qualified teacher; the right of all young people to free further and higher education; and the right of all people to free lifelong learning.

None of these rights apply in Britain today. And the marketisation and outright privatisation of our education system being driven forward by this deeply cynical, elitist Government is designed to destroy the relatively democratic structures we currently have.

Yet we could easily fund the investment needed in education if we implemented a more progressive tax system, including a wealth tax on the richest 10 per cent of households who own an estimated 44 per cent of Britain’s wealth, a 10 per cent ‘Tobin tax’ on City transactions and ended tax dodging by the super-rich and big business.”

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