Day 201 – The Result

November 16, 2009

(PS – This blog received 2000 hits in 24 hours after the vote)

In a packed Corn Exchange last night the council voted 19-17 to support the officers’ recommendations, hardly a ringing endorsement of a change that will affect a generation of schoolchildren.

Many councillors spoke on both sides of the debate, some more eloquently than others, but all were passionate about what they believed to be in the best interests of the future schoolchildren of Bedford Borough. Michael Headley spoke particularly well on the potential financial implications, and other notable contributions were made by the three group leaders – Carole Ellis, Nick Charsley and Sue Oliver. Apu Bagchi, Doug McMurdo, Tom Wootton, Carl Meader and Tim Hill also made speeches giving detailed resons why retention and improvement of the current system was preferable to a financially unviable change.

The number of speeches given by the two-tier side was equally impressive, although their content failed to live up to their headline billing. Charles Royden’s impression of David Brent though, was given an appropriate reception by the audience.

However, amidst the pantomime atmosphere, it was made clear by the Mayor that if the BSF money doesn’t materialise, then this won’t go ahead. So, whilst the fat lady is warbling happily away, she ain’t finished singing yet.

All of us in SMS still firmly believe that this is the wrong decision for both educational and financial reasons – and we will post blogs when more news of relevance occurs in the future – but for now…we’re taking a rest…

To the councillors who voted for THREE tier, many thanks for all your hard work on our behalf:

Michael Headley (Putnoe)
Tom Wootton (Roxton)
Doug McMurdo (Sharnbrook)
Carole Ellis (Great Barford)
Sue Oliver (Cauldwell)
Nick Charsley (Harrold)
Apu Bagchi (Castle)
Ray Oliver (Kempston North)
Will Hunt (Kempston South)
Sallyanne Smith (Putnoe)
Mark Smith (Turvey)
Mohammad Yasin (Queens Park)
Carl Meader (Kempston South)
Tim Hill (Wootton)
Judith Cunningham (Wootton)
Ian Clifton (Riseley)
Jim Brandon (Carlton)

Those councillors who voted for TWO tier are:

Dave Hodgson (Mayor)
Charles Royden (Brickhill)
Wendy Rider (Brickhill)
Roger Rigby (Bromham)
Roger Gwynne-Jones (Bromham)
Nicky Attenborough (Kempston East)
Colleen Atkins (Harpur)
David Sawyer (De Parys)
Randolph Charles (Cauldwell)
Margaret Davey (Castle)
Brian Dillingham (Harpur)
Anita Gerard (Kingsbrook)
Sylvia Gillard (Goldington)
Phil Merryman (Goldington)
Sarah-Jayne Holland (Eastcotts)
Barry Huckle (Wilshamstead)
John Mingay (Newnham)
Pat Olney (Oakley)
Jane Walker (Clapham)


Day 200 – The Vote

November 16, 2009

Tonight councillors will vote on the proposals to change our schools system. Some of them have read the report and found the holes in the educational and financial arguments. All of them are aware of the strength of opinion of parents against change.

What is clear now is that councillors do not need to support three tier education to vote against this proposal – they are voting for or against this particular implementation plan.

Where the plan fails desperately to convince is on primary finance. As the public sector moves towards times of austerity, we are going to spend every last penny from education budgets on ideological change rather than teaching and learning. The irony is that even then we won’t have sufficient money to effect the change successfully.

We know what happens when underfunded change occurs – the number of underperforming schools in Northampton demonstrates this very clearly.

We know that the Conservative administration of Suffolk County Council is so worried that BSF funding will be reduced or scrapped after the next election that they have stopped in the middle of their change from three-tier to two-tier.

We also know that the vote tonight will be very close, so close that it may be decided on the casting vote.

We can only hope that sufficient councillors have decided that the report cannot be implemented without creating financial chaos in Bedford Borough’s schools.