Day 152 – Dave Hodgson

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.

Dave Hodgson

7 Responses to Day 152 – Dave Hodgson

  1. JamesD says:

    Thank you for at last exposing Dave Hodgson’s, the Lib-Dem mayoral candidate, position. Not unchanged by any of the evidence, change in national financial circumstances or reality in the last 6 months. He is the chair of governors of a Nationally Failing School, a school which has received huge preferential treatment, in 2008 £1,000+ per pupil more than the next highest Upper school budget in Bedford Borough. His sponsors for the new academy both have self interest in the Borough schools going 2-tier which have little to do with pupils’ educational attainment. Is it little wonder that the John Bunyan pyramid is under such stress when the Headteachers of the pyramid Middle Schools are pro 2-tier. Why did they accept Middle School headships? Why haven’t they resigned years ago? Or were they recruited to help the case for 2-tier?
    Dave Hodgson has long been at the centre of the push for 2-tier, foiled by elected councillors in 2006 because the County could not afford it. In 2009 when National parties are out vying each other over “savage cuts” this mayoral candidate will wait for the Consultation Report, carefully edited by pro 2-tier education officers. He will see if the finances are available, has he not been told of the views of the Permanent Under Secretary at the DCSF given to Bedford Headteachers recently. Finally, is there a credible plan for implementation – there is a plan just like the “credible” plans in Milton Keynes, Suffolk and Northampton (to name just a few) whose education systems are falling apart and who all had “credible” plans to force a change to 2-tier.
    At this most dangerous time for public finances he wants to be the Mayor of Bedford Borough but he seems unable to respond to the already overwhelming evidence that a change to 2-tier would be the path to educational and financial disaster – not getting either of my votes (and nor in the future will the party that thinks he is such a wonderful candidate).

  2. bobby says:

    At last he is being honest and open….

    Very disappointing that a man who is supposed to want to be Mayor of the WHOLE Borough seems to base his logic on one school….

    On that logic I guess it will pay to ‘be his friend’ if becomes Mayor – you could get anything you want no matter whether it will devastate everyone else in the Borough….

    Rural North Bedfordshire watch out – this man isn’t just Bedford centric – he seems to base his opinions only on one school… If you don’t live in his ward i guess you will be stuffed from the logic of his argument above….

    As i said before i am definately not voting Liberal locally or in any general election now… They dont appear to have the big picture in mind… Shame

  3. JamesD says:

    Not just on one school, but a school that is about to be closed and reopen as an Academy. The original plan for the Academy (endorsed and supported by guess who) was that it would be a Secondary school when the old Bedfordshire County Council (remember Clr Drinkwater) was going to foist 2-tier on Bedford and Kempston without even a Council vote. So much for “honest” Dave Hodgson’s sudden conversion to a whole council vote.
    What is the plan for this New Academy in Bedford – not what is sensible and forward looking, its Sponsors and the LA are going for the same old recipe. The 2 new Academies for Birmingham are looking to the future, taking into account the modern educational view that 14 to 19 year olds need their own curriculum and space to develop, both Academies are going to be 14-19 institutions. They will even be in line with the national structure and framework (14-19) and John Bunyan is already established as 14-19 (hasn’t Dave noticed?).

  4. Ed Thomas says:

    From this consultation process, it is clear, Councillors should not be allowed to be school governors? Surely there is a clear conflict of interests! Apart from Dave of Bedford, Councillor Jane Walker, Education Portfolio Holder, was a school governor at Lincroft at the start of this consultation. Amazingly her decision changed from being in favour of the three-tier in 2006 to two-tier, more or less once, it was confirmed Lincroft would not be closed! ED

    • KDev says:

      LA appointed governors are mandatory even in foundation or trust status schools. They do not have to be Councillors. It’s a double edged sword; the best Councillor Governors will help with the local politics and try to keep the officers in check. Many have served the local schools superbly for decades. On the other hand local ward / school desires or just straight forward empire building can receive undue support from Councillor Governors. If they happen to be the Mayor or in his executive then that gives the self interest of the school/ward even more prominence. In the end its individual ego and belief that the politician knows best and that the rest should just follow.

  5. William says:

    Once again I am touched for the blog mention – but a bit upset that Fred get a mention before me!

    So at least we now have a reply form Mr Hodgson and it is an honest one too unlike Parvez Akhtar who, although one of SMS prefered candidates, is still saying he will listen to the people before he makes a decision.

    But in the end it doesn’t mater who gets elected as mayor as in respect to the schools issue they wont have the final say.

    I agree that someone needs to make a decision to get it full council but I don’t think that has to be the mayor. whoever is elected would need to have atleast 2 people in his cabinet and I would have thought that any of the cabinet members could potentialy make this decision.

    I also think that in exceptional circumstances Mr Simpkins could force the issue to full council.

    Dave is also right in his email that he the decison will be made by full council but as I have said before I think there will be an issue when this happens – most elected members are school governors which would mean they would have to declare an intrest in the agenda item and therefore not be allowed to vote, you then wouldn’t have the majority needed to pass any decision through.

    ……and before anyone asks my man for the job is Apu Bagchi

  6. bobby says:

    Apu would be a good Mayor.

    But i think you are hard on Parvez – check this out – he is pretty unequivocal on Heart

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