Parents oppose 'privatisation'

9th March 2001 at 00:00
SURREY Council is planning the "privatisation" of a third school in two years, despite fierce opposition from parents, who claim the plan is a political experiment.

Conservative-controlled Surrey is considering handing Abbeylands school, in Addlestone, near Woking, over to private management next year. The 541-pupil school had the county's worst GCSE results last year and, says the council, needs hundreds more pupils to be financially viable.

The council favours a link-up with an "external partner", that would enable a foundation or voluntary-aided school to be established under new management.

The proposal mirrors what happened at the former Kings' Manor school, in Guildford, which re-opened as Kings' College last year, and France Hill, Camberley, which is to be called Kings' International when i is relaunched in the autumn.

Both are under the management of 3Es, the non-profit-making private arm of Kingshurst City Technology College, Solihull.

Alison Hall, spokesperson for the Abbeylands Parents' Action Group, said:

"Where is the evidence that privatisation works? Kings' College has only just opened."

Those backing the county's plans will have been cheered by news from Kings' College this week following a positive mini-inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectors. New principal David Crossley was described as an "inspirational leader", while inspectors said pupils had good working attitudes and were well-behaved.

However, two of the 22 lessons observed were unsatisfactory. In the last inspection before the school was "privatised", all teaching was found to be satisfactory.

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