Day 42 – A Concerned Parent

This was posted as a comment yesterday. As not everyone reads the comments, SMS thought it deserved a blog of its own.
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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/truancy(from children having to leave one school to go to another class in another school as there is noway the current schooling will cope with the extra students) 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.

from a very concerned parent

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15 Responses to Day 42 – A Concerned Parent

  1. Colin Mosedale says:

    What a moving testimonial. There is substantive evidence that standards will fall for children caught up in a change to 2 tier. Ask parents of 27 schools in Northamptonshire following their move to a 2 tier structure who have seen their schools subsequently FAILING Ofsted inspections. This county now has a record number of supply teachers and is the worst in England.
    Three years after the last Consultation on school structures,Bedford borough’s schools have achieved the best ever Key Stage 4 results in English and Maths, progressing far better than the average for England as a whole and now only marginally behind the overall England average. If parents want this good work to continue AND value the well being of their children in the school system then there is no case for change.

  2. Christabel says:

    I totally agree with Colin it is a moving statement. I am in complete agreement with the lady as my children also have had the best education. They were allowed the privilege of staying children for longer in a world where all to few have that opportunity. Nurtured in a caring middle environment before reaching the vastness of upper school. They have achieved equally as well if not better than many who have gone to private schools.
    I am still at a loss as to why the council should think we want change when clearly 3 years ago the people spoke and rejected the idea of change.
    We have been led to believe this change was the only way to secure BSF funding and as that clearly is not the case lets use the money to improve an already outstanding system.
    Let Bedford be brave be different and show the rest of the country that we have the better system.
    We need to fight for what we feel is the better system.

  3. Susan Rees says:

    As a Wootton resident I went to the public consultation meeting last night. It seemed that the prevailing mood was of great concern for the exact arrangements to be made for those pupils who live in Central Beds. or whose children would be middle school pupils in Central Beds. It did feel as if the restructuring proposals will be really messy for those affected by their proximity to the boundary. Are there similar concerns on the eastern side of Beds. Borough? Another serious point seems to be the lack of capacity to extend lower schools: the middle schools are equipped with science labs, ICT suites, drama studios, sports halls, modern language rooms, art rooms, design technology areas. If the expanded primary schools can’t provide as least as good as the middle schools – surely this is a retrograde step…

  4. KDev says:

    My son was bored out of his mind in the last years of primary school and it showed in his attitude and behaviour. Sympathetic teachers allowed him work from the first year of the comprehensive school, they didn’t tell the Head! He could not wait to go to secondary school but the shock of a massive 1400 pupil school was soon apparent, he was totally lost, a very, very small fish in a very large pond. He became withdrawn and we feared school refusal. Just in time we moved and it was a relatively small, 500ish pupil school that was his salvation. When I remember the pain and the agonising over his future I wish that we had had the option of a middle school.

    • joedy follington says:

      thanks for putting my message on the blog,

      I think ive told everyone i know about this, even my partner (that came from a 2 tier) is backing the 3 tier as he sees his neices (from a 2 tier) behaviour being so different and has even suggested to his brother that he should move his children here to have the better education.

      When you live in the real world with real children you can plainly see the differences in our children and how much better behaved they are, no matter what these sats say or what the council say, do they have children that it will affect? do they not see what this will do to our children and the children of the future.

      My daughter is now having nightmares thinking she is going to have to go to school with children of 18 years. Is this fair?

      Im dreading the decision and preying that this doesnt happen as ive seen the affect it has first hand and whats worse is that it will be so distruptive for so many years to come.

  5. Alex Monaghan says:

    I have read and heard everything the Council officers have to say, and I am still bewildered and dismayed by the apparent desire of Bedford Borough to spend the biggest pot of money available for the foreseeable future on changing to 2-tier with NO COMPELLING EVIDENCE that this will bring significant benefits.

    As I’ve said at the open meetings, this isn’t about 3-tier versus 2-tier – it’s about change vs no change.

    With BSF funding, this becomes a choice between investing £340m on enhancing the system we have, or spending all that money on ripping out that system and replacing it with a different one.

    If we change the system, we will have a decade of massive disruption, a whole generation of lower educational results and disadvantaged children, and a new system which then has to get established and adjusted (with no further large investment) before results will improve – MAYBE.

    If we keep the system we have, what could be done with £340m to improve it? I don’t know, but Bedford’s results are improving very quickly already in the 3-tier system! Credit where credit is due: Mr Geoff Bent and his School Improvement team have achieved great things over the past couple of years, without any extra funding.

    (In fact, Bedford seems to have underfunded schools for years, and to be doing so still, compared with national averages – a shortfall of £100 per pupil per year was mentioned at one of this week’s meetings. Maybe that’s the first thing to change!)

    So, faced with a choice between massive new investment in a system which is probably underperforming slightly in some areas, but has been under-funded for years and is now rapidly improving, and a change to a different system with all the disruption involved and no guarantees of improvements at the end – and no big pot of money left over to fix any remaining problems – which would you choose?

    And, as someone mentioned on the Blog the other day, the same would be true if we were considering a move from a 2-tier to a 3-tier system, WITHOUT OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE.

    Babies and bathwater. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Better the devil you know, especially with £340m of new investment!

    It just doesn’t make sense to change.

  6. joedy follington says:

    with my permission please feel free to read my message in any meeting if you think it will help show my personnal experiance with primary schools.

    • savemiddleschools says:

      Joedy, we would love to, but we are severely restricted in the time we have to make “speeches”. This is why we are holding our own meetings at 8 different middle schools (see the meetings tab). Newnham, we hope, will be the 9th. Thank you again for your contribution, which we would encourage others to follow – make a comment on one of the posts and it may become a blog in its own right.

  7. Nicola says:

    I have just been to a consultation meeting and I, as a parent, did not get one ounce of comfort from anything that the panel had to say. They can not give me a guarantee that my son, who is in reception, will not be affected in the change, if and when it happens.
    I did think that they mentioned pros and cons for each structure, which was fair. However I felt that they did not answer most of the questions fully. This £340 million is not guaranteed…so what happens when they change to a 2 tier system and then put a bid in for this money and do not get it??? Where does that leave my children?

    • Christabel says:

      I think we must have been at the same meeting…..I can not believe that so few questions were honestly answered they should all be politicians. Talk about skirting around the question…..
      It was encouraging to see so many people concerned about their children’s education and I can only implore everyone to get out and campaign and approach their governors to express their views and concerns over the coming weeks.
      What is even worse is that no one can tell us who is going to make this decision. what credibility is there in a consultation that cannot even agree who is to make the decision who do we make our feelings felt to????? Are we seriously believing they can orchestrate a smooth transition……..
      Where is Frank Branston when his people want to speak to him.????

    • savemiddleschools says:

      Nicola, yes that’s right…and what demonstrates “readiness to deliver” more than a system that exists and, in large part, works very very well. Target resources at individual problems and should the money disappear in part or in whole, then the whole project will not come crashing down around our ears.

  8. Alex Monaghan says:

    Nicola
    I’m afraid the honest answer to your very important question seems to be “Up the creek without a paddle”!
    ;-(
    Which is why we need to do everything possible to make sure it doesn’t come to that.

  9. Bethany says:

    Last year, i was fortunate enough to secure a gap year job after finishing school as a Student Voice Consultant for BCC along with two others. We were asked to write a proposal for consulting with young people over two-tier vs three-tier. The funding fell through for us to put our proposal into action, so it was never done. I do however still have the proposal.

    Surely the most important people to consult with are the children themselves? They are the ones who are going to be affected. I feel very strongly that i had my best schooling years at Middle School. At the age of 20, i am outraged that young people within the schooling system are not being consulted with. It’s disgraceful.

    • joedy follington says:

      Bethany i totally agree with you, my children would all opt for the 3 tier over the 2 (and they have been in both so geniunally do know), surely they need to be listened too as its there future not ours, they must have the right to be heared, im finding alot of this is all down to money and not the people that it really affects THE CHILDREN!

  10. jonathan parsons says:

    An open letter to all Councillors and our invisable mayor, please read as a bit long and some was to do with the last time, but still all prelivant also porta cabins for schools can cost up 30,000 per month and they may need quite a lot if this is allowed to happen

    This is to put forward my views on your proposed change of the schooling system from three- to two-tier, doing away with most if not all middle schools and the land that they occupy.

    First I can say that I am saddened from your total lack of respect for me as a voter. I have come to this conclusion from the way you have treated your voters’ opinions. You have put out a document asking for our thoughts on the current schooling system and it seems that a fair percentage of the voters like me wanted the current system retained. So how it is 52 members of the Council are just going to vote for what you think is best? I voted for you to support my wishes not your own.

    My opposition to the proposed reform comes from my considering the facts contained in your own consultation report (May 2006). First, you admit there may be some increase in traffic around the new secondary schools. I think that changing the upper into secondary schools will increase the number of their pupils dramatically e.g. from an average of 1000 pupils to nearer 2000, and with this they will have a wider age range. This means a lot more traffic condensed to less schools. Parents to all children will be forced into driving them to school as with more traffic around the schools will make it unsafe for the pupils to walk there.

    Second, you intend to sell off the land of middle and lower schools to build more housing estates. More houses will mean more children and more cars on the road to get them to school which will no longer be local to them. In addition, by closing down these schools the local communities will lose the benefits that they provide i.e. playfields, facilities for extra curriculum activities, venues for playgroups, local orchestras, churches, scouts, adult learning and recreational activities.

    Third, you state that during the transfer you may have to put on some portable classrooms. I know from personal experience that this is a poor option: the site cabins are cold and hard to heat in winter and hot and uncomfortable to work in summer. This cannot be a good environment in which to teach out children for the next few years. When I was at school we were changing from two- to three-tier system and your predecessors did not get it right for many years. At the time it seemed to me that I was not going to school but to a building site. Are we to make the same mistakes yet again?

    Fourth, according to OFSTED reports some upper schools in our county are rated as poor. I understand that Mark Rutherford is even on special measures. (now no longer as improving)but the schools will still be huge How are these schools’ management and staff teams going to cope with the challenges of more pupils and their wider and more diverse needs if they are struggling at present?

    Finally, you also state that you will get funding from the government in 2012 of around 250 millions. At the same time according to your estimates the proposed change will cost at least 500 millions. Let’s assume that the sell of some middle school sites bring 120 millions. This leaves a deficit of at least 130 millions. And what happens if half-way through the change the government could not give you all of the promised funding? Are you going to simply put up council tax? I do not think that it will matter to you then, as you will not probably be in power as voted out by your now unhappy constituents. Or, are you prepared to be brave, stand up for your voters, and retain a good and fair system for all our children in the years to come.

    When I first wrote this letter I was happy to see that when the final vote came out common sense prevailed but now I have to say I voted for Frank Branston as I felt he would make a difference but I now see that as mayor all he sees is pound signs along with all the upper school headmasters, not our children’s education they only get one chance and this seems you are determined to destroy. Yes, I concede that in time it may be better, but what if it simply gets worse, what will you do, blame the private schools, or the upper school headmasters, but I doubt yourselves.

    I can say from a very personal experience that I was in the system when it changed to a three tier system, and my education ended up in the dustbin. I would be by today’s system being classed as special needs, as I am dyslexic: I am nether ashamed or too proud to admit this, but thanks to a totally ignorant education system I was branded remedial. I can say this is one thing I am not, but because to many education changes took place at once I, and many others were simply written off as a waste of time to work with. This was in smaller schools, now you want to make them bigger in most cases for upper schools to double in size or more, and all lower schools to double in size to this can be only described as a foolish way forward,

    As we now have a smaller unitary council and only 32 councillors, and according to the consultation document the funding might be 350 million but this is now looking shaky as according to a news report on Thursday 11 June 2009 Bsf funding may be adjusted down or worse cut!! Due to budget concerns,

    I have two children about to enter you experiment they have one chance at education and I have to ask you not to make the same mistakes all over again, let us all stand up for a good and fair system for all our children in the years to come.

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