Video on the fight to stop Wembley Park Academy

MarkiB mark at
Mon Nov 22 18:53:28 GMT 2010

The following is a video about the campaign to stop the ARK academy in
Wembley Park, within which land occupations took place on a sports ground
attached to land where the school was to be built, events which took place
over a two year period. The campaign was as much against the siting of the
school as it was against what was considered an incremental change in the
privatisation of local school provision, as well as the fact that the
school's owners - ARK (Active Return for Kids) are run by a coterie of
hedge fund magnets.  News of the protests, including 3 separate tent
occupations over the course of 2 years plus flash camps outside the local
council offices were circulated at the time on this list (Summer 2007 &

Unfortunately, for those opposed to the school including teachers of local
neighbouring scools, the academy got the go-ahead, got built, and is now
open (opening in Sept 2010). The following video by Jason Parkinson is an
excellent summary of the whole story, as well as being a fantastic expose
of the financial hegemony behind the new wave of academies in the UK ie.
privatisation masquarding behind the thinly veiled conceit of the new
philanthropic charitable trust business model:

With reference to the video, you will see that the Lib Dem-run council in
Brent back in 2008 preempted the turncoat behaviour of the Lib Dems in the
coalition government of 2010 by doing a 100% uturn on going ahead with the
building of Wembley Park Academy after stabnding on an election ticket of
opposing it - akin to Lib Dem's uturn of capping student fees.

This info is timely and gives an informative background as to what is
happening with the UK education system from schools to universities at this
time, as the student movement seeks to respond to the the Con-Dem
government's latest cuts and re-orientation of education policy. This is a
written summing-up of this, with particular reference to the financial
crooks now steering Lib Dem education policy, speculating on what their
agenda may be. It would appear from New Labour to the Tory and Lib Dem
administrations, a common purpose is being served....

Education in the UK, Lib Dems & the dictatorship of hedge-fund gangsters:

The Lib Dem's went into the last election on a ticket that they opposed
any increase in student fees, which, as is now widely known, they have done
a u-turn on in the new Con-Dem coalition. Last week, the Guardian newspaper
reported on documents showing Clegg's public claim was at odds with secret
decision before the election.

Back in March 2006, main Lib Dem thinktank - Centre Forum - funded and
chaired by hedge fund speculator and founder of the Ark academy network
Paul Marshall were then calling for an increase in student fees. Marshall
is a special advisor to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. The chameleon-like
nature of the Lib-Dems and what they supposedly stand for not only rings
even more hollow but is further exposed as being as slippery as the lizard
skin of their wealthy benefactors.

Paul Marshall, director of Hedge Fund Marshall Wace, is a major donator to
the Libs Dems, is special advisor to Nick Clegg, and most significantly,
donated £1 million to Centre Forum - the Lib Dem'a main policy thinktank
and is chair of the Centre Forum Management Board. Marshall is also a
founder of one of the largest academy networks in the UK - Ark.

He is a major player within the financial hegemony behind the new wave of
academies ie. privatisation masquarading behind the thinly veiled conceit
of the new philanthropic charitable trust business model. Marshall is
co-founder of charity ARK which is running one of the biggest academy
chains in Britain. They currently run 6 schools (including the
controversial Wembley Park Academy in Brent) and aim to run 12 by 2012. The
board of ARK are all hedge fund managers, such as Marshall, Ian Wace, and
Stanley Fink - CEO of International Standard Asset Management (Fink donated
£1 million to the Tories and is set to earn a peerage). Chair of ISAM is
Lord Levy, accused of providing cash for peerages in 2007.

Hence, why Centre Forum has also led the calls for the school system to be
opened up to new providers. From their website: "The practical benefits of
supply side liberalisation were set out in an essay collection entitled
Academies and the future of state education which brought together some of
the most successful school leaders in the country, as well as Andrew
Adonis, the minister responsible for the academy programme at the time."

Hedge Funds are the finance companies which tipped the world into economic
crisis in 2008. Hedge Funds make huge profits by gambling on market prices.
In 2008 they profited from driving down the value of bank shares. Marshall
admitted to the House of Parliament Treasury Committee in Jan 2009 that
Marshall-Wace earned record profits in 2008/9 shortselling shares on banks
including HBOS - who had been bailed out with taxpayers money.

Centre Forum were arguing for an increase in student fees as far back as
March 2006. Providing the ideological doublespeak justification for the Lib
Dem's sanctioning of the increase in student fees, in the words of Centre
Forum (from their website):
"Extending educational opportunities requires us to better direct public
expenditure to those who most need it. Hence [their report] 'Open
universities: a funding strategy for higher education' made the case for an
increase in private payment, and a decrease in public subsidy, to free up
scare resources to invest in early years education." The academy programme
began under Tony Blair, whereby £2 million is put down by a given private
sector sponsor to build this new type of school in “deprived” areas or
where schools are deemed to be “failing”. This was stipulated to make up 10
per cent of the capital costs of a new building, capped at a maximum of £2
million. These sponsorship funds were not payable up-front, but over the
lifetime of a building project.

This was partially dropped in 2007 to enable sponsors such as universities
to get involved.  The schools are then handed over to the sponsors to run,
with state finance (up until the end of the last academic year providing
£25 million a year to academies to run themselves). Academies have
independence from local authority control, removing nearly all democratic
controls from local parents and citizens, are run by philanthropy, faith
schools and a strong emphasis on Enterprise, and are free to set their own
terms of conditions and independent pay levels to teachers.

What interest would Marshall have in influencing policy towards increasing
student fees? Centre Forum themselves state that "fees are unlikely to
restrict access to higher education because cost is not what is keeping the
majority of bright but poor children out of the system". This is partly
true, hence their argument to increase investment in early years education
which has become Lib Dem and now Con-Dem policy (the Con-Dem govt have sold
the policy of increasing student fees on the proviso of increasing funds
for schools with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, though on closer
inspection, the figures show that the govt are not providing any additional
money for their £2.5bn "pupil premium policy; this money is just being
reallocated from existing budgets). However, using this argument to justify
the increase in student fees that will lead to students conceivably
ammassing debts of up to £30,000 after graduation is a deceitful
oversimplication. The rational appears to be to fufill the twin objectives
of reducing public spending and to rationalise the university sector and
make university achievement more exclusive again, which will no doubt have
the knock-on effect of further consolidating the class divide in UK society
by reducing opportunities for the poorest to advanced education. This is
also in part justified by the argument that university degrees have been
devalued over the past 2 decades, and more immediately, the policy is
justified having been formulated on the back on increasing overall
educational attainment across the board. It is justified by Centre Forum
who say that increasing fees will bring us up into parity with Australia,
New Zealand and the United States, each of which charges significantly more
for higher education than the UK. In ideological terms, the neoliberal
argument is that this social welfare subsidy is not justified in the
long-term development of a market economy like the UK. In practical terms,
educational streaming, which is likely to become more advanced in academies
as opposed to LEA controlled schools, is quite possibly a tool which will
create a social learning environment more conducive to separating students
for university from students going down a more vocational route. Stephen
Ball, a Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Education, was quoted as
saying at the antiacademies alliance conference in 2006 that academies are
a return to a "Victorian Education system", run by rich benefactors. Hedge
funds have indeed hedged their bets into takin over part of the public
sector - a trend first predicted by commentators several years ago such as
George Monbiot (Captive State), with PFI. It was also enshrined at the EU
level, with the Royal Mail taking the brunt with postal services being
opened up to competition. NHS privatisation is now being speeded up with
the dissolving of Primary Healthcare Trusts, to be replaced by GP
consortia, many of whom will be courted by multinationals.

Back to the education system, the rational to shift resources from higher
education to early education, which of course is more pronounced with the
meltdown in public finances, seems also to be one which is compatible with
the academy programme in that public subsidy funds are guaranteed for
academy schools as with the whole primary education sector, which is of
help with their immediate business model.

Returning to Ark, it's main sponsors include:
- John Paulson. His company Paulson and Company paid £50,000 for a table
at an ARK fundraiser. John Paulson has been described as “the world's
biggest winner” from the Credit Crunch. He is also described as one of the
25 people at the heart of the economic meltdown.

- Aspect Capital. Their website boasts "Aspect Funds are organised as
exempted companies incorporated with limited liability in the Cayman
Islands, the investment activities of the Funds are not regulated or
otherwise overseen by the Caymans Islands’
government or any other financial regulator".

- 2008 Fundraising meal
£25.8 million was raised at their fundraising meal in June. Blue Crest
Capital Management, Bloomberg, Merrill Lynch and UBS were the sponsors.
Tony Blair was the guest speaker.

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