The Stories Continue

From time to time we will add links to relevant news stories, feel free to comment…

14 Nov 2009 – Recession to change school design

18 Nov 2009 – Children get a legal right to a good education

20 Nov 2009 – Budget deficit increasing at £3Bn a week

20 Nov 2009 – Tories will savage BSF

1 Dec 2009 – BSF Contract Fears

16 Dec 2009 – Suffolk school shake-up delayed until 2017

7 Feb 2010 – Headteachers say Labour’s £1bn cuts will ‘decapitate’ schools


43 Responses to The Stories Continue

  1. chris Arciszewska says:

    How come the Mayor was allowed to vote on the three versus two tier issue? Does he not have a vested interest as a school governor?

  2. Martin Hamilton says:

    He does have a vested interest but so do half the councillors in this case for the same reason, so they all applied for dispensation to vote on the matter from the standards committee and received this dispensation. I am imagine they undertook to put this prejudicial interest aside and voted on the merits of the proposal in the interests of the whole borough and their ward members – not sure of the precise wording.

  3. And to be clear, there were councillors who voted for 3 tier who also have a “prejudicial” interest in the matter of school structures.

  4. Baldrick says:

    It all got a bit silly on Monday night on the prejudicial interest issue. At one point I thought a councillor was going to stand up and say, ‘I live on a street where I see children walking to school.’ Or ‘My prejudicial interest is that I was a child once.’

    More concerning than the school governor issue itself is WHERE the mayor is a governor – the new academy site, a place where mammon has already appeared to influenced.

  5. JamesD says:

    And the Mayor still thinks he will get all of those BSF funds?
    They haven’t got in yet and they are already talking about an emergency budget to cut the huge UK deficit.

  6. Baldrick says:

    …and for a change a nice balanced piece of journalism from our local Sunday newspaper – asking the obvious question no-one wants to answer – why no plan B!

  7. SL says:

    The ostriches may have won the vote…just…but the tide is turning and they’re going to get very wet if they don’t get their heads out of the sand soon!!!Even the BoS is starting to ask the right questions!

  8. JamesD says:

    What happens if Bedford only gets about £100million in BSF funds? Will the Mayor go back to full Council or will he force through an executive decision? If there is still no plan ‘B’ in a years time what is going to happen?

  9. Colin Mosedale says:


    This is a quote from David Sawyer in an email to me

    “If we are unable to access the full indicative BSF allocation for any reason we will have to re–prioritise. Officers will recommend to members’ smaller packages of work (1-2 schools) based on factors such as low performance or deprivation and change will therefore take place over a longer time frame.”

    If they pick off schools based on low performance or deprivation it appears that they may still do so with a future 2 tier structure in mind.

  10. SL says:

    Looks like it’s not just going to be portacabins at the lower schools!!

  11. Baldrick says:

    …but they promised 😉

  12. Ed Thomas says:

    Obviously, as three-tier supporter I am very disappointed by the Borough’s decision for change. However, I feel I am not the only loser from this education consultation. On the positive, the Mayor and his Deputy, Charles Royden have also come out of this process with their reputation and respect in tatters.

    The Mayor has shown the people of this Borough’s views will be consulted, but completely ignored. A loose cannon, who will not listen to his fellow Lib Dem and finance Cabinet member’s financial concerns and seems happy to gamble with the Borough’s finances to score points, even if this causes a predicted 3% plus rise in Council Tax.

    Like the Mayor, his deputy has come across as arrogant and condescending. The king of the uninformed preached sound bite! If Mr Royden is reading this blog maybe he could back up his statements at the Council’s vote with facts! For example, how many good teachers have haemoeridged out of Bedford Borough? Fact! We do know some poor ones have become two-tier supporting Councillors. If Bedford Borough is an educational backwater, then please could he tell me where we stand in the national table of authorities for educational standards? With a little research he may find the worst ones all have the two-tier structure!

    Maybe with consideration, Brickhill’s newly named David Brent should stick to what he knows best, organising car boot sales and dealing with litter and grass cutting concerns. I’m sure the people of Renhold with their traffic concerns would agree!

    By the way, how many years has David Brent been the Councillor for Brickhill Ward? If it is a long time, then this is very worrying, especially as the Mare compared Brickhill to Beirut!

    Still very bitter ED!

    • JamesD says:

      It’s all down to the 2011 election now. IOW parents shifted 10 councillors for wrecking their schools all we need to do is get rid of 2. The Liberal Democrats will rue the day they supported Dave Hodgson for Mayor.

  13. KDev says:

    I have a very clear memory that in the Council Meeting pro 2-tier Councillor after Councillor, including the Mayor and Cllr Sawyer, stated that the vote was for the plan in the report. Suddenly it may be for an even more disastrous proposal to change school by school over a much longer period with only the capital from sale of school land to pay for it. What is going on?

  14. SL says:

    The 19 councillors who voted for 2 tier clearly did so based on a successful bid for £300 000 of pretend money. This despite the fact that they had been clearly told that even this grand and unlikely sum would be insufficient in the overall scheme of things.
    There is no democratic mandate for the plan to be pushed through with a grossly inferior sum of BSF money and in a completely different manner to that proposed in the non-consultation document.
    If I were one of those councillors I would be feeling rather miffed to say the least at what the Mayor and co seem to be contemplating at this point, but then I would only have myself to blame for my naivety and wishful thinking!

  15. Baldrick says:

    I was reading the local T&C website earlier and came across this little snippet from Mrs Margaret Davey (Castle Ward) who voted in favour of changing the system from 3 tier to 2 tier DESPITE the majority of respondents in the consultation requesting NO CHANGE.

    The quote is in relation to the new sculpture of the ‘two faces’ (tempting to say something here but I will resist!):

    She said: “You would think we would have better things to do with £100,000 than to put that up.

    At the last town centre working group I said in future should we not be asking the public what they think and I was just laughed at. It amazes me.”

    So – it is perfectly appropriate for the council to consult on what type of art they wish to see in the town centre and potentially for them to take notice. However, on the vastly more important issue of school reorganisation it is perfectly permissible to ignore 70% of respondents alongside all those voting for three tier mayoral candidates.

    Hmmmm…two faces…

  16. A Governor says:

    Labour announces 11 new LAs sign-up to £800m of BSF funding.

    That’ll be £340m for Bedford Borough then and £46m for the other 10 !

  17. Baldrick says:

    Just did a bit of digging and Bedford isn’t amongst those authorities – well they wouldn’t be as it is next Nov that the actual decision is made about amount of finance – if it gets that far!

    What is incredible is that 800m divided by 12 is still only 67m – with the academy taking 27m that leaves peanuts for the rest.

    • A Governor says:

      Yes, I knew it wasn’t – it was just a playful tongue-in-cheek comment 😉

      To be fair, if the Borough do get anything close to £300m that will have been quite some achievement by Chris Hilliard and the late Graham Last.

      It would be interesting to see how much funding those 11 newcomers to BSF actually bid for.

    • Lillith says:

      Well, how can we be up for any of the money when it’s still in consideration?! From the Borough website:

      And I quote:
      The Borough Council has also consulted on Future Special School Provision. The consultation closed on 6 November 2009. Consultation responses are currently being considered and it is proposed that a report be considered by the Executive on 6 January 2010.

      Funny, I seem to recall something being said at the meeting about having it pushed to the government no later than December… I guess I misheard, since obviously, the Mayor wouldn’t stand up and lie repeatedly to the town, would he? <_<

  18. Ed Thomas says:

    Nice to see Patrick Hall is still alive!!! Where did he disappear to during the consultation, a very silent MP compared to the Tories. Amazingly, he now has an opinion after the vote, supporting the Mare of course and belittling the general public and their majority view.

    Has Brain Glover found Baldrick for the cunning school construction plan? or is it ****!!! I better start looking for a new job to ruin someone else’s authority. A still very bitter ED! PS are Brain, Chris Hilliard or Police Academy Dave available to be Santa at my local school’s fayre, as this could be a way of being useful for once, as long they don’t lie regarding the finances for presents!

  19. Baldrick says:

    Ed – I do have a cunning plan (and you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox) but I doubt they’d want to hear it…living in a rotten borough as we do!

  20. Ed Thomas says:

    BSF – Building Schools for the Future. I fear Bedford Borough’s vision is simply building a classroom here and a classroom there to accommodate extra numbers. Just simply adding to the out dated current infrastructure. Is this building for the future, no! If this change ever happens under police academy Dave, then all parents, teachers and pupils should be demanding and expecting brand new schools designed for today and tomorrow! ED

  21. SL says:

    Well that’s what they’re promising on their website but personally I think its going to be brand new shiny portacabins for the 21st century, with maybe some loos to match!
    According to that load of waffle parents young people and communities will all be consulted on plans for individual schools. That’ll be along the same lines as the consultation we’ve just had then will it??? They ask us, we tell them, they ignore our views. Hmmm!

  22. JamesD says:

    We have the US style elected Mayor but we don’t have the US democratic check on his arrogance – RECALL. A recall election now would see a very different result and that is before all of the cuts/ council tax rises. We have to wait whilst untold damage is already done to our children and grandchildren’s education but only until 2011!

  23. JamesD says:

    So the Office of National Statistics has brought out the latest report on the last 12 years of education in the UK. See:
    The BBC editorial sums it up as 33% extra input = 33% extra output. This agrees with the performance of Bedford schools compared to our similar neighbours when the level of net funding per pupil is also compared. The Mayor wants Upper Quartile performance with Lower Quartile resources (except for his school) for Bedford’s schools – it isn’t going to happen! Just more redundancies and higher council tax for no return.

  24. PeterP says:

    You might like to consider this regarding Suffolk schools!

    Perhaps the foolish folks in Bedford might learn something from the Suffolk experience-other than lying, misrepresenting information and all the other unpleasant and dishonest forms of behaviour and ruses which have been employed both there and in “Silly Suffolk”.

  25. Secret Santa!!! says:

    I’ll be glad to say ‘bye to 2009
    It’s wound me up badly and caused serious decline
    To my peace of mind and outlook on life
    Forced me into battle and ongoing strife
    With the so-called experts who claim to know
    What’s best for my kids, but we’ll have nothing but woe
    For a generation of children, mine included,
    Middle schools must go, they’ve rashly concluded!

    Sadly, the powers that be won the day
    They wouldn’t allow parents to get in their way
    Without our kids they’d have no jobs
    But our opinions don’t count, not one jot!
    By a whisker councillors chose this suicide mission
    Involving our schools and poor innocent children
    We’ll not stop fighting, it’s not over yet,
    Big wads from the Government they surely won’t get
    Without the cash they’ll drop us right in it
    by forcing this nightmare through, bit by bit

    It won’t just be bad for the children, oh no!
    The Council taxpayers will all have a go
    When the bill rises steadily year after year
    As our profligate Council refuses to hear
    The common sense voice of the many who called
    For financial prudence in this crazy world
    Madness to embark on such a scheme
    With no evidence to confirm the truth of this dream!

    Oh what a disaster lies ahead for our Borough!
    Because one thing’s for sure they won’t be thorough
    Their consultation was a complete joke
    The whole plan rests on belief and hope
    People of Bedford just don’t understand
    How anyone sane could believe such a plan!
    Vested interests lie at the heart of all this
    And it’s got nothing to do with what’s best for the kids

    2010, bring it on I say…
    2 tier? Absolutely no way!

    Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!

  26. Tony Calow says:

    I was educated in Cornwall where there is only ONE change of school, from Primary to Secondary. Why people in Bedfordshire require their children to suffer TWO changes of school, from Lower, to Middle then to Upper is something I cannot understand. Do you not realise the stress involved for the children concerned, AND the cost of THREE different uniforms! All so the middle classes can say their children go to Middle school instead of (lowly) secondary! Bring on Primary and Secondary. There`s nothing wrong with it. The two school system also COSTS less than the Three school system. I resent having to pay over the odds for an outdated, old fashioned system which is no better than the system the rest of the Country uses! The sooner it goes THE BETTER!!!

    • JamesD says:

      No doubt you also do not wish to pay for all of the small village schools in Bedford Borough. One of which costs more per pupil than even the most financially favoured Borough Upper School (Mayor was a Governor). Try getting closure of all lower schools and restructuring on 800+ pupil Primary schools through the Council. I don’t believe that well run 3-tier is better than well run 2-tier, but well run and properly resourced was not the education heritage passed from Bedfordshire County Council to Bedford Borough. Add gross under funding to the chaos of restructuring and you have the prescription for educational disaster (Northampton and Suffolk to name just 2 examples).
      I suggest that you go through some of the evidence presented by SMS and others and compare it with the “belief and spin” of those pushing the 2-tier case for Bedford.

  27. SL says:

    The Statutory Closure Notices have now been issued (and a very Happy New Year to you too, Mr Hodgson et al!!!)
    We have a six week period in which to make our feelings known about this ridiculous and destructive plan (again) Let’s really give them the feedback they deserve! Remember the Corn Exchange!!!

  28. Colin Mosedale says:

    The Council meets with PfS on the 27th Jan for the Remit meeting. This will be followed by the production of the Strategy for Change 2 and the Outline Business Case. Once these documents have been approved by PfS and the DCSF, funding can then be agreed. Come on Mr.Cameron.

  29. Tony Calow says:

    Well JamesD, you are dead right, I do not wish to pay for all the small village schools in Bedford Borough. When I was in Cornwall, most small schools closed, and we kids were bussed to bigger schools at a very much lower cost than keeping these small schools open. It is plain common sense to close all the smaller schools, with at most, less than 15 kids, to keep them open is absolutely profligate. Restructuring wont be too taxing, as most parents currently take their kids to a school 3, 4 or 5 miles away anyway, so that argument is irrelevant. Also, as I said, I WENT THROUGH a two tier system, its far less disruptive to the kids education, as they change school only ONCE, not TWICE as is the case now, with all the additional expense that that entails. Three changes of school is very disruptive to the kids as they have to get used to the new school, the new teachers and new routines of that school.
    If anybody thinks Cameron will change things, think again. He’ll have these closures in the pipeline and will be `minded` to let them go through.
    I look forward to hearing a comment FOR the three tier system which is based on sound common sense reasons, and is of BENEFIT for the pupils concerned, and not the “well if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality”. I know I am a lone voice here, but I cannot see why this antiquated, outdated system has survived this long. I look forward to the change! The sooner the better.

    • JamesD says:

      I would not support the change from 2-tier to 3-tier if that was proposed – FOR THE SAKE OF CHILDREN’S FUTURES.
      There is overwhelming evidence, not just belief that under funded restructuring of any school system leads to educational chaos and depressed pupil attainment for 5 to 10 years. You can carefully select dates to show improvement but when each year is assessed there is a considerable dip for many years in nearly every case. The examples given of improved performance on restructuring by the Council Officers in their report exhibit this reduction clearly when fully assessed. (was that a case of spinning the truth by Bedford’s educational elite?)
      There is absolutely no evidence that a change in school structure will by itself improve attainment. There is a very good set of evidence that ties net spend per pupil to educational attainment, Bedford spends much less than the LA they are judged against AND TO PAY FOR RESTRUCTURING THE COUNCIL ARE GOING TO CUT SCHOOL BUDGETS.
      If you want full references I can direct you to the relevant Government (DCSF) tables.
      My children first went to school in Cornwall but we did not have the luxury of staying put. Five and six school changes but both got good degrees, one a PhD, all in “hard” subjects. If you want to save money start with the outrageous rates of pay for the LA hierarchy.

    • Martin Hamilton says:

      Bedford has 52 lower schools and under the current plan none would close and the smallest would be 70 pupils (not less than 15) so I guess Bedford is rather different to Cornwall. Many of us do have experience of this system which our children are in and other systems which we ourselves went through.

      As Leodis has said there are plenty of sound reasons for opposing this particular plan for change which are already in the Blog. One problem with the debate was that it started with the assertion (by the then council leaders) that the only way to access £320 million of investment (which of course everyone would like) is to close the middle schools. This then continued right up to the full council decision when yet again it was claimed that the council would be saying good bye to this money if they did not agree to the proposal.

      Regarding reasons to enhance the existing system, the Rose Review and the Cambridge Primary Review are both worth looking at because the recommendations for improving the provision at Years 5 and 6 are something which middle schools are already able to provide.

      The alternative now being faced is underfunded expansion of the lower schools to primary schools which will probably lead in the opposite direction from the recommendations in the Rose Review and Cambridge Primary Review.

  30. Leodis says:

    I would sugeest Tony that you read the other 201 days on this blog then if you want sound and reasoned debate on why we should retain it.
    But as it is clear you entered this debate very late on I will humour you:
    1) The children involved in the middle of ANY change of structures suffer a fall in standards as the system changes – look at ANY other LA for this evidence
    2) The evidence of Jenny Symonds from Univ. of Camb states unequivocally that there is NO evidence 2 smaller transfers affect the children more than 1 large on at 11
    3) The LA has NEVER used saving money as the reason for changing – in fact it has been at pains to suggest that this is not the reason – hence the refusal to close schools that have a difficult future because of their size in the rurality
    4) Be prepared for a massive council tax hike to fund this change right now – I wonder if your view might change if you had to pay 5% on top of your current bill just to fund it?
    5) At a time when the country is £178bn in debt can we, the electorate, really be expected to believe that any government following May’s election is going to have the money to pay for this change – it is not about whether Deadly Dave (Cameron or Hodgson – take your pick) wants/allows the change but more about IF it can be afforded. The reality is BSF is likely to crash and burn in an underfunded mess, benefitting noone
    6) ‘One easy transition’ rather than two – hmmm. I would like you to be on the school gate at Mark Rutherford or Hastingsbury on September 1st 2015 when 800-900 children arrive in the same week to start their shiny new school. I for one will NOT be there!
    7) If it was 2 tier proposing to change to 3 most of the ‘anti-change’ supporters would not support that either for all of the reasons above!
    8) Despite point 7 the raising of the school leaving age is going to put an inordinate amount of strain on 11-18 institutions – so much so that at least 2 LA in the country have agreed to open several 14-19 schools rather than 11-18 in order to alleviate the hinge that occurs between KS3 and KS4. So perhaps it is not quite as outdated as having a system that makes a child change at 11. This was the same age they transferred when they left school at 14 not 18 as they will do at the same time as schools are accepting 800-900 extra pupils at the bottom end.

    …and when the chaos does reign and results plummet and our children suffer no-one who fought this change will take ANY pleasure in saying ‘I told you so’, because in the middle of this there is the very reason it was opposed – the children!

  31. JamesD says:

    After Mr Darling’s non-budget statement – Any guesses for how little BSF money Bedford will get?
    If the Mayor has contracted about £30million for his Academy and Mark Rutherford has jumped the gun by trying to absorb Woodside Middle how little of the BSF money will now be going the way of Sharnbrook, Biddenham, Hastingsbury and Wootton?
    And who decides which Upper and Lower schools get the priority?

  32. Tony Calow says:

    Well, I`m on my own then. BUT, like it or not, this expensive system WILL change! Sooner or later, its going to change, the sooner the better. As a tax payer, I do not see why I, and others, should be paying to keep middle schools open and the staff that goes with them, when there is no need to. Its just to keep the conservatives (NOT the political party) happy. To put your kids in a school for all of THREE years is absolutely ridiculous.
    Also using the reason that council tax will rise if middle schools go is a non starter because council tax will rise anyway. Whether its by 1% or 5%, its only going in one direction, UP.
    And as for the Tories, (Read the TES report) they are intent on cutting back causing the deepest recession imaginable. (Remember they presided over TWO recessions in the 80`s.) They will cut EVERYTHING! Education, Health, Transport, etc. If it matters, they WILL cut it. That will mean, if there is a three tier system in operation, be prepared to loose it, as it will have to be part of the Education cuts! If you send your kids to a private school, you will, no doubt, be given a large tax incentive to do so!
    Bear this in mind though, the rest of the country is a TWO tier system, there are only, a few other counties doing things this way, of those that do, most are PARTIAL implementers of this system, and some are reverting back to two tier. With luck so will Bedfordshire. ASAP!

    • KDev says:

      Why do you think that Bedford’s 3-tier system is more expensive than 2-tier?
      No money = no new schools, it does not matter who is running the Government. 25% of public spending is borrowed. If you spend tax payers’ money on new bricks you have to economise elsewhere. Milton Keynes spends £1800 more per pupil than Bedford in its current 2 tier system. It took 5 years and all that extra money for MK to get back to the results it had previously with its 3-tier system. Just one example of the many LA changes in school structure that have ended up with lower attainment for a generation of children and a great deal more expenditure of tax payers funds.
      If 14% to 25% cut in public spending is correct then schools, like most other public services, will be in melt down. If we don’t balance our national books soon we will need IMF rescue and the cuts the IMF impose will make anything suggested by any of the 3 major parties look gentle.

  33. JamesD says:

    My Polling card just arrived and it reminded me that I need information.
    Alistair Burt and Nadine Dorries supported the retention of Middle schools. Patrick Hall has been against Middle Schools and has supported all attempts to change to 2-tier schooling.
    I presume the Lib Dem candidate will slavishly support the Mayor, although in every other area threatened by school change the Lib Dems seem to be backing 3-tier. Does anyone know what the real views of Patrick Hall’s opponents are?

  34. JamesD says:

    Is this the end of BSF as we know it? Will it make any difference to the “beliefs” of our Mayor and his Officers?
    The worst scenario forecast for our children’s education looks as if it is coming true for Bedford Borough.
    I wonder what education plan the couincil voted for – not the one in the documents!

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