In spite of our expressed intention of serving the needs of inner-city children, it has become clear that Lambeth council will never support us in trying to set up a free school. So we have turned to Wandsworth, which is Conservative-run, in our search for a school site.
To many people in my world, the idea that Conservatives should be the ones who are seeking social justice is contradictory. To lefties, ethnic minorities and inner-London dwellers, Conservatism is simply at odds with concepts of justice, equality and truth. But if the Left is so concerned with these values, why would its councils rush to sell off buildings to prevent free schools from establishing themselves? Free schools are simply a gift from central government, offering any local community the chance to set up a school that meets its needs. This is not to mention the massive injection of cash a free school brings to the community. Yet Camden prevented the establishment of a free school by selling a building and Bedford delayed a free school's opening by a year. If they truly believed in social justice, why would these Labour-run councils oppose the idea of providing inner-city children with much-needed school places and the possibility of better schooling?
It took me many years to see the contradictions of the Left. As an ethnic-minority, comprehensive-schooled, inner-city state-school teacher, I simply swallowed the mantra of the Right being bad and the Left good. I believed Conservatives were interested in making the rich richer while Labour helped ethnic minorities, the poor and oppressed to succeed. Of course, some in the Labour Party, such as the MPs Frank Field and Kate Hoey, are true to their ideals. Kate Hoey did everything she could to support our free school bid in Lambeth, but was unable to soften the hard-edged ideology of Lambeth officers and councillors. Unlike these councillors she believes in providing the black kids of Brixton with real opportunity. Unfortunately, not all on the Left are like her. In north Lambeth only one child out of every 100 gets the Ebac (five C grades in English, maths, science, a language and either history or geography). Yet every Lambeth councillor I have spoken to implies that black children, poor children, those with single mums, are incapable of real achievement by claiming their schools are doing well, "given their intake".