Saturday, 20 March 2010

Hackney class war declared by Times and Mail

A Hackney Sure Start play group has become the battle ground for a media-driven class war.

On Tuesday 16 March Rachel Sylvester wrote this piece for the Times: "It takes more than play doh to plug a deficit" about the group attended by her kids.

She wrote: "The group will be closed down because the Learning Trust, which is responsible for education in Hackney, has decided that it is too middle class."

Back in 2008 she wrote a similar piece: "The brilliant art club where my two-year-old learns to make spider's webs out of dried spaghetti and elephants from milk cartons (in the middle of one of Hackney's grimmest council estates) has had its funding cut because its clientele is not diverse enough."

Last night the Daily Mail joined in: "Paint potty! Council zealots close down under fives' art club because children are too middle- class"

In 2008, writing for the Times, Rachel Sylvester, said: "Of course it's important that Sure Start reaches the people it was originally designed to help. But it would be ironic if the policy designed to reduce social exclusion ended up building up class barriers in another way. It was, after all, social segregation that in part led to the fate of Baby P and Shannon Matthews. Middle-class parents send their children to Sure Start activities because they are good. It would be a tragedy if they were turned into ghettos for the poor."

In 2010 she wrote: "If you want to raise a generation in which the middle-class children are as socially excluded as the poorest children, then this is the way to do it."

In the Daily Mail's: "Paint potty! Council zealots close down under fives' art club because children are too middle- class", the play group's director, Ella Ritches discovered that the Learning Trust had scanned all the post codes of the parents using the school and decided the users were not sufficiently vulnerable.

She said: "Sure Start services are supposed to be available to everyone. Middle-class mothers struggle with work, sleep deprivation and post-natal depression just like any other mother.

She told the Mail: "The Learning Trust officials concluded that 68 per cent of all users were white. I told them that just because they are white does not mean they are middle-class. But they said you could work out their properties’ value from the postcodes."

Rachel Sylvester on Hackney:

Telegraph 2006
: "Where I live in Hackney, the biggest problem with noise comes not from "neighbours from hell" but from the police helicopters that hover overhead, lights blazing, for hours on end at night. I presume they are looking for drug dealers, although we have never been told. Whatever the explanation, my two-year-old son learnt to say "copter" long before he could identify a "cow".

Telegraph 2005: "What about drugs? This week, Sir Ian attacked middle-class people who took cocaine at dinner parties. Is he about to raid the Georgian terraces of Islington as well as the council estates of Hackney?"

Telegraph 2004: Shortly before I went on maternity leave at the end of last year, I had lunch with a minister who has impeccably Blairite credentials. The conversation turned, naturally, to schools in my area of London - Hackney. Diane Abbott, the local MP, had just said that the secondary schools there were so bad that she felt obliged, despite all her Left-wing principles, to educate her son privately.

What would the minister advise me to do, I asked, if my soon-to-be-born child were about to reach his 11th birthday? 'Oh,' he replied without a second thought, 'you'd have to move.'

Later in the same article, she wrote: "Of course, politicians have every right to do what they believe to be best for their sons and daughters. The problem is that most people cannot afford to do the same. In Hackney, 17 per cent of parents send their children to private schools, but what about the rest, many of whom live on council estates and are struggling to make ends meet?

"And not everyone has the money to move house to be near a good state school when, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, property prices are 12 per cent higher in the catchment areas of the best. 'Let them move house' is rather like Marie Antoinette declaring 'let them eat cake."

No comments:

Post a Comment