Day 23 – Vested Interests

Two days ago (Thursday 21 May 2009), a Middle School Head contacted the Heads of 5 feeder Lower Schools and asked for the Lower Schools to distribute a letter to parents through pupils’ bookbags advertising an open information meeting at the Middle School about the two-tier / three-tier debate. The letter was not controversial or biased; everyone was welcome from both sides of the debate.

The 5 Lower School Heads refused.

Yesterday (Friday 22 May 2009) a group of concerned parents from that Middle School and from SMS stood outside the school gates of all 5 Lower Schools and handed out those letters on behalf of the Middle School. The Middle School Head had rung the Lower School Heads 30 minutes previously as a courtesy call.

Parents were overwhelmingly happy to receive the information. Why shouldn’t they be? It was only an offer to debate the issues!

All of those Lower Schools sent a representative, often the Head, but also parent/governors, to assert that permission was necessary from the Lower School to stand in a public place to hand out information, and to insist that we move on.

Those Lower School Heads should be ashamed of themselves.

Everyone should ask themselves – why did these Lower School Heads refuse to pass on information about open meetings? Even if they fervently believe that a change to two tier is desirable and they support the change entirely, it is one of the things underpinning a democratic society that everyone has a right to free speech and that censorship is bad.

Perhaps it is because the salaries of Headteachers are linked to the size of their schools, and all Lower School Heads are due to gain two extra year groups after the change, an increase of nearly 30% in their school roll?

See our links page above for information and ways to help fight this unnecessary, wasteful and educationally unsound change.

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6 Responses to Day 23 – Vested Interests

  1. sarah k says:

    My children came home today with a copy of the consultation document for us to fill in. I am aware of the issues … but many other parents were asking many questions about it and where to find information. Parents have a right to hear both sides. Why would someone wish to silence their opposition? Is there something to hide? Or are people frustrated because we just won’t do as we are told!

  2. Nicola says:

    My son also came home with a copy of the consultation document from his lower school yesterday and there was not a covering letter to explain to parents what this document was about at all. In fact I have not had any correspondance from the school even mentioning the proposed move! All schools need to inform parents of the whole story – parents HAVE THE RIGHT to decide what is best for thier children. As for this consultation document – well giving excuses of “Why do we need to consider change? because the declining number of middle schools nationally” What has that to do with anything? Our MPs are declining – does that mean we can can get rid of them???

  3. Jo says:

    Just wanted to say good luck with your campaign, perhaps your LA needs to visit Somerset where the official policy on 3 tier is that they don’t have a policy on it – they only want to close tiny schools with many excess places to save money.

    Middle schools are very cost effective and provide opportunities for upper KS2 pupils that just wouldn’t be available in a primary school, e.g. how many primary schools have dedicated science labs with a full range of equipment and technicians?

  4. steve says:

    The 3 tier system enables specialist teachers to teach younger ages, Year 5 as opposed to Year 7. The number of children participating in school sport will be dramatically cut under a 2 tier system. Every middle school runs a football team/rugby team. This mean standards of within sport will fall as will the participation rates. Take Year 8 for example, 15 teams, where the sport is a priority for the school as it is the oldest year group, to 7 upper schools where they are the younger age group. I think the current system is better.
    We all complain that children grow up to quickly, yet we are proposing to send our 11 year olds to huge educational institutes.
    One of the reasons given for change is that there is a declining number of middle schools nationally. So what! Who wrote this document and believes that is a coherent argument for change.
    Also the document states that there is growing support for change within the upper school Heads. Well of course there will be, if they get more children they get more money! The lower school heads are in the same position.
    Are you happy that a whole cohort of children will be disrupted by the change, or is this acceptable collateral damage as the change is made. I bet the Harpur trust schools are looking forward to all their new customers.
    You have come out with lots of data to show that standards fall throughout their educational years. However, Bedford has 7 upper schools but 6 independent schools, taking out a significant number of children who would have been in the state system at their younger ages. Those children, statistically will be high achieving, just look at the Harpur trust exam results, as those children are not in the state system elevating the results

  5. Jo says:

    I agree about the sport – it’s no big shock that in my middle school we always thrash teams in upper KS2 and Yr 7 generally, because they haven’t had the specialised coaching and equipment etc that our pupils have had from Yr 5. There are 2 teams we find hard to beat, Millfield Prep School (a specialist sports independent school) and our ‘sister’ middle school, because in these schools their children also have specialists teaching them for PE and have dozens of clubs and teams! By Yr 8 we find that the local 2-tier school teams are starting to be a proper threat in our main sports!

  6. Lee says:

    I am so pleased someone has highlighted this point! Does it strike anyone else also that the decision to host consultation meetings at the Boroughs Upper Schools who as you say have a vested interest in changing to the two-tier system is wholly biased and inappropriate? Would it not have been fairer and more open to choose neutral venues such as community centres, village halls etc?

    Furthermore the Consultation Document informs us that Middle Schools are in decline nationally, this is an interesting choice of words don’t you think? Notice how they have NOT said that three-tier systems are in decline. Perhaps in other areas a middle school, while catering to a slightly different age range would be known as a Junior School.

    I would be VERY interested to know just how many areas in the UK use the Infants, Juniors and Seniors system, over the Primary/Secondary system.

    One last thing, has anyone wondered what they would do about sixth forms? If the Borough Council was to follow the ‘national’ model then our upper/secondary schools would loose their sixth forms in favour of regional sixth form colleges, perhaps on the sites of former middle schools?

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