Day 65 – Non-Consultation & Judicial Review

On Monday 29th June at Beauchamp Middle School, Mike Berrill (Principal of Biddenham Upper School and International Sports College) made an offer to SMS – that we write a joint press release stating that both the Upper School Heads and SMS would respect a Full Council vote on the School Organisation Review and that neither group would go to Judicial Review should the vote go against them.

This is the response of SMS to that offer.

Dear Mike,

SMS is a loose affiliation of parents, teachers, governors and other taxpayers whose activities are funded entirely by themselves.

SMS does not have the right or ability to stop any individual who feels that it is appropriate to take the Bedford Borough Consultation to Judicial Review. It would be unfair to limit your actions by a promise we cannot guarantee will be met. SMS does not wish BSF funding for Bedford Borough to be put at risk by a Judicial Review.

The high risk of a Judicial Review has been created by the Borough Council who are responsible for the flawed Consultation process and lack of due diligence in the basis of its recommendation. Only the Council can take immediate action to rectify the flaws.

This action includes but is not exclusive to:
1. Working up a credible proposal for school performance improvement under 3 tier
2. Carrying out an unbiased evaluation of the two proposals
3. Revising its recommendations as appropriate
4. Taking steps to correct the biased and misleading information in the consultation document

Mike, SMS believe you have a key role to play in supporting the Borough officers in developing this vision of school improvement under 3 tier. This is particularly important for you as it now appears more likely that Bedford Borough will retain 3 tier, and it would be prudent to have a plan in place as early as possible for securing BSF funding for your school.



2 Responses to Day 65 – Non-Consultation & Judicial Review

  1. KDev says:

    Day 65, it is difficult to remember that I started this in favour of a change to 2-Tier as I was misled to believe that all of the BSF money promised to Bedford, Kempston and Wootton depended on it. It was an Upper School Governor who corrected my view and told me that the Bedfordshire County Council Officers were spinning the BSF facts. Now I check everything any Council Officer, document or web site says on this matter.
    I initially thought that Mike Berrill’s proposal on Judicial Review had merit, a bit of though turned me around – why should any Bedford Borough parent / carer/ resident have to fight for a normal democratic process? Even if the Mayor and his executive have the legal power to make this decision why hasn’t the Mayor already stated that he would demure to a whole council vote? All the impartial evidence supports retaining 3-Tier, the Council web site directs you to the Suffolk analysis which has been totally discredited by numerous peer reviewed academic studies. Judicial review will probably mean the loss of most of the BSF funding for Bedford but every independent financial analysis predicts that BSF money will not exist for the main part of the proposed programme.
    I am now even more certain that a change to 2-Tier will lead to educational disaster for the pupils during the change and a financial disaster for Bedford Borough. Nothing adds up in the Consultation Document, the consultation meetings were completely one sided from the Officials, even the locations were in schools that supported 2-Tier and, out of politeness, the Headteacher of each school was asked to give their views (usually about 10 minutes of pro 2-Tier propaganda). Little evidence has been presented but lots of opinion – a completely flawed attempt to bias the consultation to the single outcome the Officials want.
    Am I finally getting paranoid – one fact we have all taken on trust is that DCSF instigated this review of school structure has anyone seen proof of this much repeated statement?

  2. Sally says:

    It has been an unbelievably steep learning curve over the past few weeks. I too think back to my first reading of the consultation document and could easily have thought, well fair enough then, seems to make sense. But thank God I’ve had access to alternative information and I strongly urge anyone who might be reading this blog for the first time, to find out more and have your say if you, like me are not convinced.
    I guess most of the time we are all guilty of feeling quite glad that there are people ready and willing to take responsibility for running things. The bins get emptied every week, our children go to school, the roads are mended etc etc. We don’t really think about how all the important decisions are made because we don’t need to.
    I have come to realise my ignorance about the decision making process and have been really shocked by how easy it is for a Mayor to bypass the full council on matters of such importance as our children’s education. This could easily have passed me by as many other things probably have before now.
    I am just an ordinary parent, who hasn’t got the money to send my kids to private school, even if I believed that would be right. I feel frustrated and angered that my children’s education can be messed with in this way by officials who don’t even seem to have done their homework properly. They think/hope that changing to 2-tier may improve results. Not good enough! Their arguments become less and less convincing as the days go by and I learn more.
    Whatever happens from now on I for one will be keeping a much closer eye on our local democratic process. I would like to thank all those Councillors who read this, for taking the trouble and time to represent us. I sincerely hope that you will all be given the opportunity to participate in this crucially important vote.
    However I will say finanlly that from my point of view whether the decision is made by the full Council
    or the Executive, the consultation process itself has been shockingly inadequate and biased. This is just as much an issue for me as who gets to make the decision.

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