Dave Hodgson has got around to addressing the schools debate. Unfortunately not in the press as yet, but by email reply to SMS supporters and others who have queried his silence on the issue. His reply is standard and was forwarded to us by several people keen for it to gain a wider audience.
As this is the only issue in the election which appears to provide clear ground between the candidates (they all want to build the bypass, they all want to regenerate the town centre, they all want to attract business) then we do wonder why it has taken this long for Dave to reply – perhaps he has a lot on at the moment…
SMS will issue a reply to this letter in due course via this blog, but comments are very welcome to Dave’s email…all comments are anonymous via pseudonym of course and you can easily set up a temporary googlemail or hotmail account to further protect your anonymity from us (like Fred & William).
Thank you for your email about the school structures. I know that schools and schooling is something about which people, including myself, are passionate. Indeed, I came to Bedford when my father was appointed Headteacher of Westfield School and I went to school in Bedford through the last restructuring.
My position is that I would like to see the system in Bedford Borough change to 2 tier. I am the Chair of Governors at John Bunyan School which is soon to become an academy. All of the Headteachers in the Bunyan Pyramid, including the Headteachers of the Middle Schools, support a change to 2 tier education. The Academy sponsors are also wholeheartedly for 2 tier. If the Borough was starting from a blank sheet of paper there is, for me, no question that 2 tier schools would be the best option. It’s the system used by over 90% of local authorities, for which the national frameworks are devised and for which almost all teacher training is provided.
I have met with Tony Dadd and his colleagues when they asked for a meeting with councillors and I have heard their arguments and put questions to them.
Before finally deciding on whether I want the Borough to change to 2 tier I would consider:
– the consultation responses, whether they contained anything to change my view that a change to 2 tier is desirable
– can it be funded
– is there a credible plan for implementation
As you are no doubt aware, the final decision will be taken by the Full Council not the Mayor. As Mayor, even if the Council voted for the different option than me, I would take up the option decided on as the option for the Borough for the next 30 years and ensure it was pursued with all vigour to get the best education for the Borough’s children. Indeed, to get any money from the government they must be convinced that the Borough has made a clear decision and will pursue it wholeheartedly.