SALFORD CITY COUNCIL!
Yes, the arrogant riders of the white elephant are those from Salford City Council who insist on continuing with the much criticised, controversial Oasis Academy MediaCityUK.
Against all logic the Council granted the Oasis Academy planning permission last week. Here's a bit of history, in the longest commendation in the history of the MARYS…It's long but it's shocking!
Oasis Academy MediaCityUK replaced Hope High School and is currently based up on Eccles Old Road. It was due to move to a more "desirable" location at Salford Quays this year but the date has now been moved to 2012. It was granted planning permission to build on the site of the historic Salford Mission (URC Church) which will now be flattened. Here's everything you need to know…
• Oasis Academy MediaCityUK isn't classified as a `faith school', although it's run by Oasis Community Learning, part of Oasis UK which also runs Oasis Church Salford. Its founder Rev Steve Chalke, preaching at the Salford church, stated "we will end up with a church which is also a school…a school that is also a church…" (more details here)
• It's been well questioned whether the Salford Quays site is suitable for a school – it's on one the busiest main roads in Salford (Trafford Road) and new `super crossings' for kids coming from Ordsall have just been cancelled due to spending cuts.
• There's no playing fields and students will have to bussed out to Stott Lane, 2.5km away.
• The recent independent 21st Century Commission report on the future of Salford's schools noted: "Although the site is situated close to the tram link between Eccles and Manchester, north south transport links are not good. The site is compact and situated between two busy roads. Outdoor space for recreation and sport would be limited and pupils would have to be transported to playing fields."
• The Oasis Academy is all style over content. The 21st Century Commission noted that "The site proposed for the development has been chosen because of its proximity to the Quays and because it is felt it will make an iconic statement about the importance of education in the inner city".
• This backs up Salford Star research which showed that the Academy is being built to fit the image of MediaCityUK rather than as a great place to put a school. A few years ago a Salford Council report looking into possible future sites for the school stated that being near to Salford Quays was "a fundamental priority". The report added that "the most logical options" were the Blodwell Street and Churchill Way sites but both had "image issues". Two sites in Ordsall itself, just across Trafford Road from the Quays, were written off because one was "not as desirable as Salford Quays" and, for the other, "perceptions of the area may affect enrolment" (more details here)
• Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company isn't happy that the school, on an "important gateway site", won't have a "strong building corner feature" and insisted, as part of its planning permission, that the corner site has "strong vertical elements in the form of flagpoles and planting". So much for `the importance of education in the inner city'.
• The Academy is well out of the catchment area for the former Hope High school - according to a 2006 census, over 60% of pupils for Hope High were drawn from the local area. The new school is nowhere near the old site.
• The 900 place Academy (plus a 250 place 6th Form) is also estimated by Salford City Council's own figures to be over 65% empty by the academic year 2014/15. The 21st Century Commission report added: "Current numbers at the Academy are 470 in the main school with 40 students in the 6th form. Projections from the local authority are that this number will fall to 329 in the main school by 2016/17. On this basis, even if the projections are very pessimistic, it is difficult to see the 1,150 places being needed in the foreseeable future."
• A Salford Council report this year revealed that it expects "approximately 300" of the school's places to be taken up by kids from other authorities within the Greater Manchester area. But the 21st Century Commission reports that other schools in neighbouring boroughs have the same idea to provide media skills schools for MediaCityUK, which will provide "competition".
• The Oasis Academy is the least favoured school in Salford, according to figures issued by the Manchester Evening News (see here). This year there were only 87 first choice applications for the school, for 180 places.
• The 21st Century Commission report advised: "Despite the advanced stage of planning, put on hold the building of the new Academy at the Quays and merge the current Oasis Academy with Buile Hill into a new trust school or an Academy on the Buile site."
All this, and yet Salford City Council is ploughing ahead with support for the Oasis Academy MediaCityUK – which isn't even under its control.
In response to the independent 21st Century Commission report Salford Council states…
"The City Council Cabinet is clear that the Oasis Academy development will continue to go ahead as planned; and therefore as a consequence this aspect of the report is not being put forward for future comment and response."
Arrogance of the highest extreme, we think.
Ladies and Gentlemen. THE ARROGANT RIDERS OF THE WHITE ELEPHANT AWARD goes to…
SALFORD CITY COUNCIL!!!
See Mary Burns Awards:
Day 1 click here
Day 2 click here