Thousands of parents, a trade union and banker mums and dads in London are involved in a bitter feud over a new school in Northcote – a section in the Wandsworth suburb that’s dubbed Nappy Valley because of its high birth rates and wealthy residents, the Guardian reports.At least 25 bankers from firms like JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citi, Barclays and RBS in conjunction with an organisation called the Neighbourhood School Campaign, are trying to build a school that, according to some, would be a “Bankers’ Free School.”
ARK said that opponents have “ignored the many teachers, doctors, health service, local government, legal, charity and voluntary sector employees, shop keepers and full time mothers actively involved in the campaign.”
It will be “the school equivalent of a gated community” according to a local MP because the only people who can afford to live near that site are wealthy.
Their evidence: one local elementary school called Falconbrook, which is one of the poorest in the area,has been excluded from the group of feeder schools, even though it is nearer than one of the schools chosen – 1.3 miles from the site to be exact.
The Neighbourhood School Campaign, along with ARK, an education charity founded by mogul Arpad Busson (pictured), and its cohorts want to build Bolingbroke academy on the site of a disused hospital, which would open in 2012 and will select students from four local feeder schools called Honeywell, Belleville, High View and Wix — four local schools that just happen to be located in wealthy areas.
(The Neighbourhood Schools Campaign is not funded by ARK).
In response to that, ARK told us that “without the feeder schools, access could have been restricted to better off children attending the two state schools closest to the Bolingbroke site or, the local private, fee-paying schools. Contrary to being a barrier to poorer children the feeder schools policy gives more children access to places.”
The opposing faction, made up of other local parents, councillors and a major trade union called GMB, think the school will “suck resources away from the rest of Wandsworth.”
According to Bolingbroke’s site, the school was considering three different types of admissions policy, including “straight line distance lived from the site; a modified distance criterion using a second school gate; and…feeder schools.” They decided on the feeder school option because its “the fairest and most transparent way to achieve a local, socially inclusive school.”
The opposing team believes that’s just a facade in order to create a free school for wealthy children, even though the NSC and ARK maintains that the new academy is about serving local families of a variety of economic backrgounds and would also take into account distance from the site.
In response, advocates of the school said that the reason Falconbrook wasn’t included was because the council the council had advised them,
That this was “the lay of the land” as the railway divides the two communities, meaning that children in the poorer Stanley estate in the north tended to go to Battersea Park secondary school rather than those south of the tracks.
Apparently other schools, which are totally run down and need federal education funding, will have their refurbishments put on hold so Bolingbrooke can be renovated.
“The school is not being built by bankers, nor are they on the board of the campaign,” ARK told us. “More than 2,500 local Wandsworth people, representing a very broad cross-section of the community, support the campaign. It is a great shame that their motives and integrity have been so greatly maligned on the basis of a campaign of innuendo and misrepresentation.”