Day 40 – Disruption

The quickest easiest way to destabilise a child’s development is to disrupt something major in their lives and this usually means home or school issues. SMS knows – we have heard many tales from individuals who lived through the change in Beds and Northants thirty years ago from two tier to three tier. It was an awful experience which affected their lives permanently.

All of us in SMS believe passionately in education, and gradual change helping to support our three tier system to evolve is our strong desire. This is also financially much more sensible, as should “funding envelopes” (whatever that means) change, then individual projects can be cut without leaving a chaos of half-finished buildings, demoralised teachers, and confused children.

Actually, SMS would not support a change from two tier to three tier either, despite believing that three tier is advantageous. It is a complete nonsense to suggest that because no authority is changing to three tier then three tier must be inferior in some way. It is the massive disruptive change that is going to damage our children.

That is why we at SMS are calling for “Evolution not Revolution”.

Why not something today to help us – talk to people, create a buzz, take action.


6 Responses to Day 40 – Disruption

  1. Maureen says:

    Unfortunately, have been out of the loop for 48 hours with illness….What was the gist of the non consultation meeting at Biddenham last night? Planning to go to one at SUS later this week so would like to know how I can best prepare for “Open Questions”

  2. Fred Bagnall says:

    I attended the meeting at Biddenham yesterday and would like to offer some reflections:

    To Tony and the rest of SaveMiddleSchools:
    1. Thank you for raising awareness of the consultation but please quieten down and let the rest of us ask our questions
    2. Please accept the invitation to verify the statistics for Bedford Borough state schools

    To Mr. Johnson (headteacher of Goldington Middle School):
    1. Be polite, tell us who you are before your speech, if you must give it
    2. Help us understand what the funds could do – If Goldington Middle School got a pro-rata share of the BSF funding, say £9-12million, what capital projects might it undertake?

    To council officers:
    1. Would it be correct to suppose that more information, as Councillor Sawyer suggested, would be provided to the executive/full council (do tell us which when you know) to assist in decision-making and can this be available to members of the public also? (I understand this not being in the consultation document especially when some are evidently struggling to understand what is there – rather embarrassingly a teacher)
    2. You came across to me as sincere and genuinely concerned that we work for a more successful system, whichever structure, but were generally weak in relaying why the recommendation is for change when I sense you feel strongly on it.

    More statistics:
    From the TellUs3 report for Bedfordshire. This is a 2008 Ofsted national survey of representative samples of Year 6, 8 and 10 children and highlights where weighted Bedfordshire results are statistically significantly different from the weighted national ones.

    Children in Bedfordshire are less likely to feel very safe at school (50% v 55%)
    Less Bedfordshire children have never been bullied (51% v 56%)
    Remember years 6 and 8 are in middle schools where pastoral care should be better we are told.

    26% in Bedfordshire v 33% nationally always try their best at school
    15% in Bedfordshire v 23% nationally always learn a lot at school
    Are our schools doing enough to enable each child to reach their potential if they are less motivated to try their best and not being facilitated to always be learning?

  3. KDev says:

    Mr Bagnall,
    What you witnessed last night is the frustration of people whose democratic rights are being denied. The so called consultation document is blatantly biased; since last year the spin of BSF money being tied to 2-Tier has been propagated. “Gee Whiz” graphs were used to show the greatest possible difference between the Bedford Borough Schools and our Statistical Neighbours. The Officers want to control the content of the meetings and who questions and for how long. That the Mayor alone may make the final decision has become the final straw.
    Chris Hilliard I trust and have immense respect for. The same education officers argued in 2006 that the change should be carried out as quickly as possible because other LAs had failed by taking too much time and now they are now arguing the opposite case.
    If we get this wrong there will be no BSF money for Bedford Borough and that will be the greatest disaster.

  4. Fred Bagnall says:

    Forgive me, I am new to the discussions and can only interpret what is set before me on this consultation and what I can find for myself. At the moment I am not overly impressed by the quality and coherence of argument from Bedford Borough or SMS. I currently perceive the Borough as more constructive.

    I accept:
    1. The Borough’s state schools post KS1 underperform relative to the comparators selected by Government and accept the assertion that we should exceed the national average.
    2. The whole school system would like to improve results.
    3. There is £300M+ BSF funding for capital projects if a coherent plan can be accepted by Government before said Government changes when spending plans could change.
    4. We want to secure said monies.
    5. Upper school heads support the proposed move to two tier.
    6. SMS may not accept all of the above or indeed be unanimous in its view.

    I understand that the Borough is suggesting the monies could be spent expanding our Upper schools and turning them into Secondary schools and that we would then reduce school transfers by half and have a structure that parallels the National Curriculum. The Borough and Upper school heads would expect to be able to improve GCSE results.

    I understand SMS fears the disruption that changing the school system would cause and questions the assertions that the system could retain teachers and otherwise cope during the transition. I perceive SMS believes improvements can be made within the existing system. I do not know what capital expenditure SMS would favour and whether for example they would target weak/needy schools or favour a share for all. I do know a plan would be needed to get any money. I would like more constructive suggestions from SMS and less NIMBY-like rejection.

    I have not yet returned my consultation document and hope more information might become available by one means or another before I do so.

    In future consultation meetings I suggest single short questions may actually yield more informative responses. Last night quite a lot went unanswered because questions could be forgotten before the opportunity to answer arose.

  5. KDev says:

    Mr Bagnall,
    In the 2006 consultation it was very apparent that NO LA had changed completely from 3-Tier to 2-Tier without both massive overspend and up to decade long deterioration in educational attainment. Even partial structural change had caused significant problems and under achievement. With this background I should expect absolutely overwhelming evidence to be provided before Bedford Borough attempted to do what no one else has achieved. The Borough Officers do not have this evidence, they have opinions and beliefs. The risks, both educationally and financially they are willing to take are appalling. Bedford Borough results are improving faster than just about every other LA in England whilst peer reviewed academic research is much divided on the advantages of 2-Tier and 3-Tier. The evidence from Suffolk used to support 2-Tier can actually be used to argue that 3-Tier is better (Symonds, Cambridge University 2007).
    On change at age 13 rather than 11 Professor Richard Webber (UCL) showed that school performance is highly linked to socio-economic status. Professor Peter Tymms (Durham University) has shown that results are primarily driven by pupils and teachers. There is very little Government funds available for Primary education, PCP would contribute £5-10M to 50+ Bedford Primary Schools. The Rose report of April 2009 highlights the need for more specialist teaching in Years 5 and 6, the very years that will miss this if we revert to 2-Tier.
    This is not NIMBY it is a very genuine concern based on evidence.

  6. joedy follington says:

    Dear Sir

    I just wanted to say that my children were in primary schools until 2002 so I have had my children in two and three tier schooling, so please bear with me with my long comment.

    When my son was in primary school he was very disruptive and was diagnosed with ADHD. My son was about to start his final year at primary school and to be honest he was a little devil, nearly getting expelled for his behavior. When we moved to Bedford he was in his 2nd year of middle school. He settled in quicker than I could imagine and when we went to union street clinic for follow up on the ADHD on numerous occasions and they said he didn’t have ADHD, WHY because for the first time in months he was interested in school, he was not bored even though he was behind in some lessons…mainly science as primary schools don’t have science labs and they only start French in the last year before going to secondary school so when my son went to middle school his peers had been speaking French for 2 years, this didn’t bother him and he soon caught up and came home very excited especially when he used a Bunsen burner for the first time.

    My son’s behavior totally changed, he is amazing and is now doing his GCSE in upper school, if it wasn’t for moving here I don’t think my son would have had the opportunities that he has had and going to have, it could have been that he a very different future.

    I was also fortunate to go through the three tier system and I believe that children learn more this way, I remember when I went to upper school, I didn’t want to learn I wanted to start dating boys and along came the attitude with it but while I was in middle school I wanted to learn and do after school activities. Primary schools means this attitude come quicker and lasts longer, I believe this when I look at my nephews and nieces, they are more street wise and grown up than my daughter and all her friends of the same age in middle schools. I want my children to learn, be excited to learn and to be children, I fear that moving to a two tier will cause more difficulties in the long run than any one could realize. The three tier system does not cause more disruption for our children it helps them gradually grow up into responsible adults rather than forcing this upon them at an earlier age when most are not ready.

    If you decide on going ahead with coverting to a two tier system it will cost more money than the government BSF in the long run as you will need to invest in an huge amount towards behaviour difficulties that this will cause. That is a fact.

    The way forward is not to go back to a two tier system, the way forward is three and many councils should revert to this system as it’s clearly the better one!!!

    Thanks for taking your time in reading this, if you gave my son the choice of schooling he would go for the three tier system every time, surely our children need to be listened too as it’s their future.

    A very concerned parent

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