The ongoing battle to set up our free school in Lambeth continues. One of our volunteers goes out into the parks, the market, the sports grounds, telling the locals about our school. The other day, he plopped in front of me. “The thing is, Katharine”, he said, sighing, “You cannot tell with the middle class families. You never know whether they’ll be hostile or supportive. Some take the flyer and smile. High standards of discipline? An ethos built around knowledge-acquisition? Competition? An extended day? They love it and rush home, flyer in hand, to register on the website. But others are aggressive. Even when one explains that free schools are not selective (they are required to follow the admissions code) and they don’t take money away from local schools (they can’t, as schools are funded on a per pupil basis), they growl bitterly: “But free schools are Michael Gove’s idea and he’s a Tory!” To be a Tory is to be evil by definition, and therefore free schools must be wrong.”
My helper winces. “You just can’t tell! Those who read the Telegraph are OK. Those who read the Guardian…” He rolls his eyes. The problem is they all look the same. I laugh. “What about working class families? Do they object?” He shakes his head. “No.” I frown. “Never? Not even once?” He shakes his head vigorously. “NO. Working class families are desperate for another school in Lambeth. They don’t have the luxury of political ideology!”
It sounds entirely plausible to me.
It's as if these people have forgotten that the purpose of schools is to teach.
it is the rich who live in the area who are campaigning to prevent the poor from having a new school. Some actually deliberately obstruct, by taking lots of our flyers and binning them, shouting at us, being verbally abusive, and so on. Things are so upside down that the NUT and SWP would actually prefer that an old school building be sold to a developer to be turned into flats, rather than have it for a free school.
Birbalsingh concludes on a humorous note:
Yesterday, as our volunteer was handing out leaflets to parents outside a primary school, in frustration, he sent me a text. “That’s it! I’m no longer approaching white women on bicycles!” I smiled. A minute later he sent another.
“And the ones wearing helmets! They’re the worst!”
It made me laugh out loud.