Category Archives: Education

Video

Defend the Right to Protest demonstration at Kingston Crown Court

Footage of today’s demonstration outside Kingston Crown Court.

Reinstate expelled Kingston Uni student protester!

By Alistair Farrow, Kingston Education Activist Network.

James Heslip is a Kingston University student studying Fine Art. In the 2010 student protests he was involved in breaking a window at 30 Millbank, which houses the headquarters of the Tory party. He was sentenced to a year in prison and, to make matters worse, the University has expelled him from his course.

The punishment James has received is completely out of proportion to the crime he committed. When members of this government got away with smashing up a restaurant as members of the Bullingdon Club (a real case of ‘mindless vandalism’) it was excused away as a case of ‘boys will be boys’; when protestors break a pane of glass it is treated as a threat to the government and no mercy is shown. Students showed the way to resist the cuts last year and without their actions we would not have seen the biggest strike in living memory on November 30th. Now it’s our turn to support those students who are being victimised as part of a government strategy to discourage others from resisting the cuts.

James needs all the help he can get and there are a number of ways we can show our support. Firstly, sign the petition demanding the University reinstate him. Secondly, write a letter to the Vice Chancellor (who has the final say in the mater) demanding his reinstatement. Lastly, if you have a message of support for James, email it to afarrow87@hotmail.com and it will get forwarded to him in prison.

James has been drawing during his time in prison and you can see his art here.

PFI funding plans for North Kingston school a financial milestone for years to come

Plans announced today by Kingston Council to fund the construction of the new North Kingston secondary school by seeking a loan under the Private Finance Iniative are an expensive folly for local council tax payers, according to the Christian Peoples Alliance party. Last Friday was the deadline for bids under the Coalition government’s Priority School Building Programme, which is intended for local authorities who meet criteria of having basic need for demographic reasons, or were promised money under the last government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

Kingston Anti Cuts Group says that residents are entitled to look at alternative ways of  funding the school. One KACG member, Paul Pickhaver, says PFI funding has many drawbacks:

“Under PFI, private sector companies are brought in to fund and build the new school. Local council taxpayers will avoid upfront costs but are locked into expensive long-term repayment deals. We need to see the exact terms of the proposed deal, but experience tells us that Kingston Council’s plans could be a financial millstone for decades to come.”

KACG is pointing to a recent highly critical report by the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee which found that the return on private finance – about 8.5% on a typical deal, compared to about 4% on long-term government bonds – is too high to represent good value. The report evaluated the costs of construction, maintenance and services under typical PFI deals and found no evidence of any savings over normal public procurement. It concluded that the value for money case for the PFI “is implausible”.

Paul Pickhaver added that the proposed deal could also damage other schools in the borough:

“PFI companies can and do charge huge mark-ups for basic maintenance. As schools are funded through ring fenced grants, the potential additional costs of an individual school will have to be met by the whole school sector rather than by Kingston Council. This could mean that other schools in our area have a reduction in their funding to meet the additional costs of this proposed PFI deal.”

Last year, the Department for Education’s budget for school buildings was slashed by 60 per cent in the comprehensive spending review. The Government also axed Labour’s £55bn programme to rebuild or refurbish every secondary school in England, although a small number of construction projects will still go ahead.