Day 74 – Teachers’ Jobs

Over the weekend, our online petition made it past the 1000 mark. This is in addition to the many written petitions circulating that (genuinely) we have no idea how many people have signed (our best estimate being in the low thousands). Please encourage everybody you know who supports us to:

1. Fill in the consultation document.
2. Sign the online petition.


Teachers were told during the official consultation meetings by John Goldsmith that the same number of teachers would be needed if we changed to two-tier – it stands to reason he said, there are the same number of “youngsters” to teach.

It stands to reason, but also was apparently wrong.

One day after the final consultation meeting at Hastingsbury (the one where Martin Fletcher boasted about his online poll) there was a meeting of teachers at Goldington Middle where Brian Glover and a senior HR official said that there would in fact be redundancies.

Other official meetings between council officers and teachers have not been advertised by some Heads to their staff – maybe they forgot to tell them?

John Goldsmith also talked about “ring-fencing” positions, joint appointments between schools, and seamless merging to the new structure…and Cinderella just passed Sleeping Beauty on her way to Disneyland…

The only rings here are the round holes into which some square pegs will be force-fitted…joint-appointments are a fantasy if schools cannot organise transition in an orderly manner…and as for seamless change…we’d better ask the planners of the Millennium Dome or Heathrow Terminal 5 or the Channel Tunnel if they told the same fairy stories before they started.

The fantasies spread by the architects of this damaging change need to be examined very carefully by every teacher working in Bedford Borough who should be hammering on the doors of their union reps.


(this blog was brought to you by Grumpy)

13 Responses to Day 74 – Teachers’ Jobs

  1. PL says:

    Might it be relevant at this juncture to mention the troubled Bedford bypass project?

  2. A NASUWT member says:

    I read this with interest this morning, as I received a letter in the post from my union last week. Apparently there is a meeting to discuss this matter tomorrow at 4 in the Council Chamber at Borough Hall. I think we should try to go and find out from our union reps what they think we should do to protect our jobs.

  3. Paul Keeble says:

    Surely the time has come for the Mayor of Bedford Borough Council to do the honourable thing and call a halt to this attempt to change school structures, so all schools can return to a new academic year in September and get down to spending all their energies into teaching and learning.
    The person who started this civil war between schools needs to call a halt to hostilities so relationships can start to be healed. We owe this to all the children at our schools. Somehow we seem to have lost the plot over the past few months.
    We have a country with severe financial problems and a government rapidly falling apart and I can see Bedford Borough Council ending up with “egg on its face” if it decides to change the schools structure only to find the funds it needs to carry this out no longer available. What then, back to the existing structure? So all this time and effort (and pain)wasted. All for nothing!
    Recently announced by the government, the one for one tuition costs are to come out of BSF money so what will be left in this pot?
    Other areas of education have seen massive reversals in funding and projects having to be shelved.
    If we get a change of political power in the next government (only months away) will BSF money still exist?
    I’m just a school governor, who gives time to help my school develop and thrive as it has done during the last 6 years I have been involved with it. Frankly (no pun intended) I’m appalled with what I have seen
    happen in Bedford between schools of late and if it wasn’t for the children we have in our schools I would be seriously thinking do I want to waste my time in a totally volunteer activity with all these highly paid officials who seem hell bent on destroying each other. Where is the sense in this?
    Please Mr Mayor for a volunteer and taxpayer call it a day, lets get back to sanity.

  4. Alex Monaghan says:

    I do feel sorry for teachers caught up in the middle of this mess: most of them are good people. But I feel far sorrier for all the children whose education is currently at stake in this Borough lottery.

    There has clearly been no detailed planning or costing of this proposa. Chris Hilliard has admitted as much in public.

    It’s as if the Borough is running some sort of game show:
    “Here are two boxes, a plain old cardboard one with the existing school system in it, and a shiny new one but we can’t tell you what’s inside – pick one, for the future of your children!”

    Well I’m sorry, but I don’t want to play their game!

  5. Jo Padbury says:

    I attended a ‘consultation’ meeting at the middle school I teach in, where we were talked at by John Goldsmith and a representative from HR at Bedford Borough. I was left very concerned on many levels. We were told that there would be funding to re-train all middle school teachers so that we would not be disadvantaged in a two tier system – what an insult to think that the four years I spent at university and the six years of teaching since then will not be enough to secure a job in a primary or secondary school. I don’t understand where this money for training will be coming from – especially in the current economic climate – who would want to pay for people to train to do the job they are already trained for?
    John Goldsmith ignored many questions and comments from myself and colleagues – such as what would happen to my TLR payment, seeing as I am a Head of English in a Middle school, and the Primaries and Secondary schools will already have those positions filled and my job will no longer exist? No real answer, just a load of waffle about re-training.
    What guarantees will be in place to keep quality teachers in the middle schools that are being closed down? No real answer, just a load of waffle about having jobs waiting for us which I didn’t believe in the slightest.
    What provision will there be for keeping talented teams of teachers together? No answer.
    How will the building work needed for the new teaching spaces in schools be managed so that children are not learning on building sites? No real answer.
    How have the standards improved in Northampton since the change to two-tier there? Question ignored.
    Whilst I am very worried about my job – and I really care about what I do – my main concern is for the children who would get caught up in these changes if they go ahead. Those staying on in primary schools or transferring to secondaries will be learning on building sites, and those staying in the middles that are closing may have, I fear, an inferior standard of teaching as teachers leave to seek more secure jobs.
    Surely it would be a safer option to stick with three-tier, at least for the time being, and try to improve teaching and learning. In the school I teach in we are achieving or surpassing the targets set for our children – despite the NC tests being suited to two-tier systems. If we can do this, other schools should also be able to raise standards with the right guidance and help. I feel it would be more beneficial if good practice was shared between schools – of course this is difficult when we are measured on the league tables which discourages schools helping each other to improve.
    Surely it would be worth waiting a few years to monitor the standards in Northampton before embarking on such a huge change in Bedfordshire? After all, our children only get one chance at a decent education.

  6. William says:

    If you are a really good middle school teacher (and the council do decide on two tier) you will have nothing to worry about as the primary and secondary schools will be queing up to secure the best teachers for thier schools.

    It is only the weak and poor middle school teachers that will have a problem – it will be like picking the team in PE lessons!

    If I were the head of a lower school or upper school I would be putting job adverts in the paper as soon as a two tier decision is made (if it is) for the contract to start when the school goes to primary/secondary i.e 2013. Get the best of the middle school teachers while you can have the choice!

    By the way the latest Branston blog…….

    QC’s opinion won’t please 3-tier fans
    July 12th, 2009
    In the increasingly shrill and desperate bid by supporters of three-tier education tro defend middle schools I have been accused of lots of things, including supporting two-tier because I want to have a primary school named after me (!!!).

    Recently the frenzy has been over who takes the final decision, myself alone or the executive composed of nine members from all groups plus me as chairman, or by full council.

    As I have pointed out many times, to individual correspondents and the media, I would prefer it taken by the full council of 36 members plus me. In the event of a tie, the Speaker would have the casting vote. In other words my vote would be one among 37.

    This is not an issue which has been faced by any directly-elected mayor so it was decided to seek counsel’s opinion. It has now come back and I can’t help smiling at the irony.

    The recommendation has to go to the executive. Any decision to change will go forward to full council. But if the decision is for status quo it can be taken by the executive and would be final.

    In other words, if I and the executive were to take the decision it would signify that supporters of three-tier had won. If it goes to full council, it will still be to play for.

    The middle-school defenders should remember the old saying: be careful what you wish for.


  7. River Song says:

    William, this is exactly the problem. What about the children who are in middle schools during the transition to a two tier system? What will happen to them when all the teachers have left for other, more secure employment? What will happen to them with a middle school full of unhappy teachers, filling in application forms and attending interviews for new jobs? Let’s not forget the valuable support staff too. How many of these jobs will be secure in this process?

  8. Leodis says:

    Sadly River Song this is where William shows a real lack of knowledge of what it takes for a school to run effectively these days. More support staff are employed by most schools these days than teachers and they will desert the schools in droves if this goes ahead because their jobs are the least secure of all! This alongside the good teachers getting out into a job of their OWN choosing rather than one foisted upon them by the LA will result in a lowering of standards. It has happened everywhere else there has been a reorganisation!

    • William says:

      My dearest Leodis – I am not sure that just because I dont have a real lack of school knoweledge doesn’t mean I cant have an opinion. Again the same argument stands – the best support staff will get jobs and the worse won’t.

      I challenge your ‘foisted uopn’ comment that you say has happened everywhere else – WRONG

      In Worcestershire rather than simply require the middle school staff to apply for new jobs, it was felt fairer for ALL staff to have to re-apply. (Lower,middle and upper)

      First, temporary governing bodies were created from combined first and middle school governing bodiess. They then started by appointing all the Headteachers, then Deputy’s etc. All secretaries, caretakers, teachers, TAs, lunchtime supervisers etc. had to be interviewed. Strict guidelines were in place to ring-fence jobs in the affected region to ensure that as many people as possible were re-deployed.

      Seems fair to me, if we are going to change, lets get the poor teachers/support staff out of the system and I am sure you will agree there are some poor people in our schools!

  9. Sid says:

    re Franks Blog.
    Surely this is good news? Either Frank and his gang get to decide what’s best for our children and keep the current school system or it goes to the full council to make a responsible decision.
    Surely the irony is on our duly elected mayor, who i am glad to see is showing impartiality and professionalism in this matter (not).

    Am i missing the point?

  10. SusanF says:

    William, I think you might find that if all staff had to apply for positions within the new schools, we would have rather fewer lower and upper school heads telling us parents misleading and untrue statements about why they think we should all support two-tier! BTW, according to Brian Glover at the staff meeting held at Goldington Middle, governors of upper and lower schools would be within their rights to appoint new headteachers when their schools become Primary and Secondary. Just a thought – we have some Outstanding Middle School heads who would be looking for a new job if Mr Pickle gets his way …

  11. Leodis says:

    William – thank you. Not even my Mum calls me dearest these days! I also don’t think my comment suggested that you were not allowed an opinion, merely that it was not as informed as it could have been – I accuse many a politician of that too at present so don’t feel singled out!

    However, if the staffing issue was as simplistic as you describe then there would not have been issues resulting in the stopping of reorganisation in Worcs and other areas like Northampton where ‘golden handcuff’ incentives were used in an attempt to keep those good staff who I described earlier, or Northumberland where when the one and only area to reorganise resulted in 19 teacher redundancies and many more support staff. It is a simple matter of arithmetic. 2 sites are cheaper to run than 3 – whether this is in the best interests of the children though is the ACTUAL debate – the fall out in terms of recruitment over a 5 year period WILL cause some major issues and the real sufferers will be those children in the middles.

  12. Jonathan Parsons says:

    fao willam

    i have just been in an intersting blog with said mayor i sugesst you read it could give you a few new idears and you amy even understand the ponit a bit better but i will copy here to for you to read

    hello frank

    well i am the person that wrote the coment about the Frank Branston Primary School, and i will say i wrote from the heart and i think this is not an inapropriate comment, as some one tha had to endure the last time bedford changed its education around, i think i can make a well balenced jugement of the pitfalls and time i takes to get it right, am i am sorry to say all the comments i see fill me with dread, firstly i have two children about to embark on there education, if this change will take place can you garantee that their education will not suffer, and can i hold you and the elected officials responsable even after you have left office to task over this and if nessary hold you responsable, i am willing to meet an talk over my concerns with if you so wish?

    on another level i work in a school that will probaly close and due to my postion of being support staff and being by the time school close i will be 53 unlightly to find a new job, so i will be interested how you intend to address these issues across the county as many staff like myself will probaly become uninployed, as simple mathamatics says three in to two will not go, ok teachers still needed but the rest?? so how many jobs will go 200, 300, or by my best calculations 600??

    one last point i am dislexic but i cope, but i fell through the system because in the last change no one cared and this may happen againe because all lower and upper staff will be strugaling to cope with all the new students and simply 700 lower and 2300 upper means you will miss the ones that need the help, and how long before small or lower schools that donot have the space to expand start to be moved, merged and closed dispite what your document says simple maths again

    you can contact me on jonathanccna gmail dot com ok

    regards jonathan Parsons

    One time supporter and voter

    and now the reply

    In response to Jonathan Parsons Nobody can guarantee that two tier would be an improvement. Equally, nobody can prove that three-tier weould be better. All that is known is that the current three-tier model is not producing good results at GCE O-level stage and that is what parents and employewrs want to see.

    The vast majority of educationalists support two-tier and while they MIGHT be wrong, if one ignores experts what has one got left.

    And I still say that accusing me of going through this process to get my name on a primary school is insulting. My desire is to do my best for Bedford children – many as yet unborn – in decades to come. It is your privilege to say I am going the wrong way about it but don’t impugn my movtives.

    ps gce O level went away 20 years ago

    and now my responce

    Dear Mayor

    I have no wish to insult or be insulting, but am puzzled by some parts of your response. If you wish to do the best for all bedfords children and those as you say still to come, why do wish to push this? I can agree results count, but at what cost? Can we not simply remap our existing schools with the £300m, rather than using it to create a system that will need still further investment to bring it to standard? It seems to me that the upper and lower school heads are simply empire building, at the cost of childrens education.

    It is GCSEs now not GCE O-levels (only for the last 20 years or so though) due to problems with the old system, the following link should provide edification

    As I asked in my previous comment, will you be taking responsibility for this system as it unfolds over the next 15 years, or will it be left to parents like myself to pick up the pieces of disrupted education?
    I beleive as a member of the electorate on a forum for discussion it is more than appropriate for me to challenge and question your motives when you are acting in a professional capacity. I beleive a change will be a gross misappropriation of funds and will continue to challenge this, as it is childrens education that will be impinged by this change. Whilst the two tier system may be great once it is settled, I beleive every child matters, including those of today, who will without question be disrupted.
    In addition, could you please cite your sources when you say the vast majority of experts beleive a change to a two tier system will not cause problems for education during the considerable transition period, because that is not research I have seen.

    Yours faithfully

    jonathan parsons

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