Day 194 – Unmanageable Risk

November 10, 2009

Change is inevitable in life. Everyone within SMS accepts that educational progress should be a priority in Bedford Borough and that change is inevitably a part of that.

However, any change carries risk, and when that risk becomes unmanaged or even unmanageable, then alarm bells start ringing. There are so many flaws in the primary funding plans, that even with BSF funding, we are risking a whole generation of children’s education. Our primary schools will become overcrowded institutions, lacking specialist facilities for Year 5 and 6 pupils and coping with portacabins owing to funding shortfalls.

Other authorities have believed they hold the secret to changing without disruption, and they have learned the hard way that this is just a fantasy. Milton Keynes have only just recovered, 5 years after change, to the same level as we are – and their change involved only 1 year group (middle schools aged 8-12 became junior schools aged 7-11), did not involve closing schools and only involved one new school building. In fact, in many parts of MK they still effectively have 3-tier (infant, junior and secondary)

Suspicions also arise where clear success criteria are not laid out in advance of change. The inevitable massive disruption must be worth the end result in order to justify change, but these success criteria appear to be entirely missing from the report. So how are we to judge success? And more importantly, how are we to judge failure, if the financial house of cards comes tumbling down and we are left in the middle of a chaotic change, just like Suffolk are at the moment.

Risk should be worth the reward. When the rewards are uncertain and the risks very great, then that is the time to explore the alternative – an enhancement and evolution of our current three-tier system with specific focus on the bits that aren’t working as well as they ought – across the lower, middle and upper schools.

If you want to stop this damaging change, then please help by contacting the councillors to let them know how you feel and attending the Full Council Vote on Monday 16th November at 6:30 in the Harpur Suite (Corn Exchange).