Day 172 – In the beginning…

Do you remember in the dim distant past (5 months ago) when the School Organisation Review (public consultation) was published? Do you remember the core arguments made in favour of change?

1. Bedford’s GCSE results aren’t very good.
2. Our three tier education system must be the cause of this.
3. There is £350M available for secondary buildings if we can show transformational change.
4. Therefore we must change to two-tier to improve results and get the dosh.

Someone trained in logic would have a field day with this chain of reasoning. It is nonsense from start to finish.

1. Results can always improve but we are in line with the national average, perform better than authorities of similar size and demographics (Milton Keynes and Swindon for example), and have some outstanding schools with none failing.
2. The Government has admitted that no credible source has ever shown that one system of schooling is better than another – it is much more to do with quality of teaching and leadership. Northamptonshire is now almost completely two-tier and still struggling.
3. Does anyone truly believe that from 2011 there will be a third of a billion pounds available for knocking down serviceable buildings and throwing up some more…? And where is the money coming for the lower-primary move?
4. Even if the money is available, there is no necessity to change school system to access BSF funding – again, the Government has admitted this.

The truth is that this was a non-consultation, a huge waste of public money, based on logical inconsistencies and misleading arguments. It was a nonsense then and it remains a nonsense now.

SMS calls on our new Mayor to show that he really understands the needs of Bedford Borough and to reject any proposal to move to two-tier immediately.

8 Responses to Day 172 – In the beginning…

  1. JamesD says:

    You left out the most disgraceful piece of the restructuring proposal, only discovered after the non consultation was closed – 25 years of cuts in school annual budgets to pay for the lower school conversion.

  2. Ed Thomas says:

    Mayoral Election Statistics

    116,258 registered to vote in Bedford Borough on the 1st December 2008.

    Of these people, 9,428 of them, voted for Dave Hodgson as first choice.

    Which means 12.3% of the registered voters of Bedford Borough supported Dave. This figure is iconic as it very close to the percentage our council tax will rise over the next 18 months!

    At this moment, the mayoral election seems like Doctor Who, where Bedford Borough has recreated a mayor like the last mayor with a slightly different appearance, but have chosen a Colin Baker / Sylvester McCoy instead of a Tom Baker. A surreal thought, but wouldn’t Bedford benefit from Tom Baker and K9 being its Mayor!

    Back to the issue, like Baldrick, the Cambridge Review makes a very interesting read, which Police Academy Dave cannot ignore. Here below is an extract of one of the chapters of its final report.

    It also warns against the closure of middle schools, commending attention to witnesses’ developmental arguments for their retention at a time of anxiety that children are growing up too soon. In the matter of funding, too, the Review believes that the historic primary-secondary funding differential, which has defied the recommendations of official enquiries since 1931, and from which 7-11 schools suffer particular disadvantage, should finally be eliminated.


  3. Baldrick says:

    Quite right Ed – it also says this when it comes to delivering the curriculum:

    The report calls for a full review of primary school
    staffing which properly assesses the nature of the expertise which a modern primary education requires,
    taking account of the full diversity of schools’ work. The report particularly underlines the importance of teachers’ domain or subject knowledge – the point at which the class teacher system is most vulnerable – because research shows that it is the teacher’s depth of engagement with what is to be taught, allied to skill in providing feedback on learning, that separates expert teachers from the rest. It argues for training and resources which enable schools to mix the undeniably important role of class teacher with those of semi-specialist and specialist, so that every school can meet the Review’s definition of educational entitlement as access to the highest possible standards of teaching in all curriculum domains, regardless of how much or how little time is allocated to them.

    So at a time when the experts are suggesting more specialist teaching it is proposed the converse occurs in this authority! So – even if the funding was there (which it clearly isn’t) there is even less of an educational argument (if ever there was one!).

    Mayor Dave, man of the people (!), isn’t it time you listened to some REAL experts rather than those around you with their OWN agendas?

  4. KDev says:

    Unfortunately, we are all missing the reality – Dave Hodgson, now Mayor, has consistently maintained his “belief” in total disregard of all of the educational evidence that supports retaining 3-tier schooling in the Borough. That leaves only the spectre of financial ruin that just may convince sufficient councillors to stop this madness.

  5. Martin Hamilton says:

    I think that is rather harsh on the councillors. They will certainly not like to be thought of as Dave’s poodles. They will have seen that the majority of votes lined up with those candidates in the election who showed at the very least a considerable skepticism about the scheme. They will also have seen that Dave himself was not prepared to stake his campaign to 2-tier as he clearly thought that would be a vote loser. However, the councillors will probably need all they ammunition they can get if Dave is determined to push ahead as seems likely.

  6. Village Parent says:

    History repeating itself?

    Are we all missing something here? I have seen the evidence and believe that the two-tier system is ultimately flawed and also that the money that will be needed to extend secondary schools is likely to be uncertain.

    We need to reason exactly what the true motivation is for anyone on the Council to even consider a change.

    Can I suggest a scenario that some of us have probably suspected but dare not envisage.

    When our school system last changed in the late seventies, there were primary schools in the majority of our villages (Clapham, Pavenham, Stevington, Oakley, Odell etc). These have now gone! The school and playing fields turned mainly into housing.

    Imagine what will happen to the lower schools that remain (Turvey, Bromham, Carlton, Milton Ernest, Felmersham etc).

    Does anyone believe that these village schools will exist in the future? No, they will be sold and the Council will create super sized primary schools to educate our children in, just as they have in Milton Keynes.

    Look at the size of the playing fields that our village lower schools currently enjoy. This must be greedily obvious to developers who have probably been eying them up for years, especially as they all lie within the village boundary.

    The Council would then have thousands of new homes, with all the additional tax that this will generate.

    We have already lost most of the industry in North Bedfordshire, with hardly any jobs now available for local people, forcing most of us to work far away from our homes and community.

    Is the Council now planning for our children to travel far away from their homes to go to school?

    We have also lost most of our village post offices, our village pubs and now we are quite likely to loose our village schools.

    Are the villages only somewhere you live when you retire or are they about communities young and old, where we live, could work and can walk our children to school!

    Is this re-organisation about considering the best system for our children’s education or is this just another political smokescreen, hiding the real motivation?


    • JamesD says:

      Not just the village lower schools will go when the money runs out; all of the local lower schools in town could meet the same end. On a collocated lower and middle school site you can fit 800+ primary pupils, with minimum rebuilding. With new classrooms on the playing fields 1200+. So we could end up with just 11 super-sized Primary Schools to match the 7 super-sized Secondary Schools.
      This was always about a £500million boost to Bedford’s economy and to **** with education.

  7. A.Voter says:

    Faced with all the new information about the serious lack of funds to cover the lower to primary change which has come to light since the consultation period ended, there must be some very worried lower school heads and governors now.
    What a shame that the Borough didn’t feel able to share with them the full facts of the matter before the consultation began! I suspect that their support for 2-tier plans would have been rather less wholehearted.

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