Post-Election Blues (and Golds)

BSF is now officially under the coalition’s autumn spending review. Many articles have been published across the country in local newspapers and in professional journals (for industries with a vested interest such as teachers, construction companies, architects, quangos)…

You can read them by going to Google News and searching for “Building Schools for the Future”

Official word is not expected about Bedford Borough’s BSF bid until later in the year, but unofficially aside from the Academy it is dead in the water…at the moment…

Update: A joint press release from Alistair Burt, Richard Fuller and Nadine Dorries has said that they are seeking urgent clarification from both the Government and the local council on the future of the Building Schools for the Future programme following the change of government.

Alistair Burt said “We are well aware of the concern of parents about the future of the local schools programme. The Council took its decision to move from three-tier to two-tier based partly on assurances about finance, which were always likely to be up for reconsideration bearing in mind the economic situation of the country at the time promises were made, and the recent election. We believe that the Council needs to know precisely what the national financial picture is before it can take a view as to whether or not its programme will continue in its entirety, be dropped, or proceed with some other approach.”

Bedford MP Richard Fuller said “We all want our best for the schools, but we have all known for some considerable time that the promises previously made were unlikely to have had a firm foundation and it is essential that the matter is revisited as soon as possible in the light of the most up to date financial information”.

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17 Responses to Post-Election Blues (and Golds)

  1. JamesD says:

    And now the Bedford Borough apparatchiks’ argument to Ministers is “you have to give us the money or we cannot restructure the schools in Bedford”. What happened to IMPROVING the attainment of Bedford’s children, fixing what we have in view of the financial reality? Not continuing to waste the Boroughs meagre resources on additional bureaucrats to run the non existent BSF programme.
    How many additional staff have been employed even though the whole programme is frozen, what is the cost to the Council Tax payers or more likely how much more will be cut from our school budgets to pay for this vast effort and waste of time.
    We need decisions and clarity but we are getting waffle, prevarication and delay.

  2. Ed Thomas says:

    The only problem is the ‘NightMayor’ is still unaware there is a recession and the country is in severe debt. The warning signs were flashing a year ago, over 13000 people were saying this!!! Be careful SMS, the ‘NightMayor’ enjoys closing things, this website could be next!

    The 17 councillors, who voted no, should be pressurising the executive to deal with this state of limbo where children, families and teachers do not know the real future of education of Bedford Borough, which is a complete disrespect of the general public.

    Maybe the Mayor’s poodle from Brickhill could give a few unresearched soundbites to clarify the situation!

    ED (still very bitter)

  3. KenD says:

    Who is deciding how the curtailed BSF funds will be decided between Upper schools. The DCSF (now Dept for Education) priority was John Bunyan followed by Kempston and Wootton. I gather that Kempston will get the very last allocation of Bedford’s BSF funds (if anything is left) after all of the other Upper School pyramids.
    So allocation of education funds is not being made by EDUCATION priority – but who is making that decision?

  4. jonathan parsons says:

    to one and all i hope still popping by to read the posts here this is a draft of a letter i am sending this week i hope you all can read and keep spreading the word and if the papers will publish my somtimes cross word to those that are our council members

    I am writing to you to ask what are your plans for my children’s education as you seem to be on route to a haphazard method of implementing a change, as now it seems there will be little or even no money to continue with your the mayor’s and the council’s folly of a utopian two tier system rather than a working current system. If you can cast your mind back to the consultation meetings that took place, at Mark Rutherford School I was one of the first members of the public to stand up and ask a question and you chose to answer. I asked could you guarantee that my children’s education would not be affected or even possibly destroyed by this whole process (as my education was last time this system changed, and it took 18 years to complete) and as you seem to be on route to a similar timescale your reply was that the building structure would be in place for 2014. Also you stated that there would be no portacabins. The interesting thing is that my son goes to Hazeldene and there are still portacabins from 1970. If you can also recall my parting statement was that I believe this will all go horribly wrong. Your reply was it won’t. In hindsight I think my statement was at least prophetic and more likely correct. But now to the nitty gritty bit. What is your plan B?. Or is it your wish that when you leave office you will leave a cacophony of disasters for your successor to sort out , unfortunately you will have a nice pension and can relax in the knowledge of a job well done, whilst you will leave lots of other parents like myself having to fund a private education to guarantee our children’s chances of successes in an ever more challenging world. Or will I simply use the government’s policy of every child matters, and insist that the local LEA picks up this bill, instead of using the wonderful system we currently have at our disposal?. One last point is, if we changed last time because two tier did not work why are we changing back?.

    Cc The Mayor of Dedford (sorry getting in to the futcher) Bedford Borough Council, All local Councillors’, Bedford Times and Citizen

  5. bob janssen says:

    never let the facts get in the way of a bit of emotion!

    i am intrigued about the number of well meaning people who are making some extremely impassioned pleas for the retention of the 3 tier system almost certainly because they do not want change on their watch!

    may i suggest that we consider the evidence…

    1. Our system plainly is not working … there should be a seamless transition at points of change but bedford’s children are falling off a cliff. The evidence is there to back this up… our pupils at KS2/3&4 are significantly behind our statistical neighbours so any claim that it is currently working is plainly very wrong indeed.
    2. The dogmatic claim that other LA’s that have made the change have endured regrettable issues as a consequence is deliberately misleading. Northants may have endured some turbulence but other LAs that have made the transition from 3 to 2 tier in the last decade have seen a significant positive impact on attainment and aspiration. May i suggest that the examples of wiltshire, Northumberland and Borehamwood are offered to ensure that there is balance to the argument
    3. There is a considerable body of evidence supporting the suggestion that every time a child changes schools it could lead to as much as 18 months of regression particularly socio-emotionally. There is a significant link between changing schools at the end of year 8 and disaffection and disengagement amongst girls within 12 months of the change (it is a no-brainer that to change schools when a child is already in emotional turmoil because of their own rites of passage is going to have a knock on effect). The suggestion of the cambridge report (2005) is that children need to have security and stability in their educational setting at the point of adolescence to ensure a successful path through KS3 & 4. The 3 tier system is failing a significant number of children socially, academically and emotionally.
    5. There are some lies being told within these pages about BSF and its strategic distribution across the borough.

    KenD suggests “The DCSF (now Dept for Education) priority was John Bunyan followed by Kempston and Wootton. I gather that Kempston will get the very last allocation of Bedford’s BSF funds (if anything is left) after all of the other Upper School pyramids.”

    This is absolute nonsense so maybe KenD could share with the readers where he has got this from… never let the facts get in the way of ….. etc

    just so people do not assume I am a plant … no i am not but i am an expert in this field. I have been published in the subject of adolescence and strategies to deal with disaffection, and I have worked in both systems so have no pre-conceived agenda. Similarly i have some current experience of consultancy with the partners for change dept and am fully aware of the bedford context of BSF, and i can state categorically that KenD could not be further off beam with his statements!

    • jonathan parsons says:

      dear bob

      never let facts get in the way, interesting comment, here are some more facts northampton started changing in 2003 and are hoping that by 2012 there perfomance will be back at national level, also are council based there entire reason on the late BSF, dont get me wrong i am not a NIMBY, but the way the whole thing was approched by the former Beds CC and last mayor, and more recently by the now Borough Council and incubent Mayor was more like a dictatorship, see the way the consoltation was handled, and the voice of both children and perents alike was think about this and please no thank you, if you as you say have read all the aguments you will read that like myself we are all perents tha suffered or are aware of the disruption our educations last time bedford changed, i now have two children both about to be in the middle, i simply want the best for them and in bedford at this time it is still three tier, but in the coming years a mixed or even totaly new education model may arise, so do we realy need to waste a lot of money, and as i have stated on many occasions, if two did not work last time why are we changing?. one last question if you are not a plan why quote the councils stastical areas, also ask your self this question why do none of our leaders reply to letters, emails or the like?.

    • KenD says:

      Bob,
      I fundamentally disagree with your analysis of LA’s that have changed fron 3 to 2-tier. There is massive evidence that only one LA has achieved such a change without 5 plus years of reduction in education achievement by its children. The one success was many years ago when the aurthority threw resources at the middle schools that they were closing – hence staff stayed on and education continued, unlike Bedford’s plan.
      My data comes from published sources, if you have any doubts ask the Bedford Borough Education Officers for the latest BSF plan with time estimates for BSF. Kempston is last and has some building completion dates that now run into 2016.

  6. JamesD says:

    Just had this brought to my attention.
    Bob,
    You are an academic voice in support of 2 tier. Single tier in 500ish community school would be fanatastic but we are not starting at that 21st century point. Secondary schools approaching 3000 and primaries in excess of 600 are in the Bedford plan.
    Many other academic sources contradict your views on 2 vs 3 tier. The latest, the Cambridge review of Primary Education, which specifically called for a stop to the closure of middle schools.
    Academics disagree, the statistics show clearly that changing from 2 to 3 tier or even from 2 to 3 tier causes “colateral damage” to a generation of children.
    Bedford’s plans were under funded on an indication of posibly £340million of BSF funds (Peterborough was only promised £100milion!). Bedford continues as if nothing has changed and is adding to BSF staff to run this mythical project. Bedford’s continuance is now in the realms of financial and educational negligence

  7. Martin Hamilton says:

    Looks like there may be some more indications on BSF before the Autumn

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/10407761.stm

  8. JamesD says:

    Caught Cllr Sawyer on the radio this morning, what planet is he on – not the one that includes the UK in June 2010. The Mayor admits to spending £400,000 on schools reorganisation against all of the warnings and the advice of his own finance portfolio holder. The Mayor is now pleading with Mr Gove for £250 million (wasn’t it £340 million in the approved plan) to save his political future.
    Bedford heads for educational and financial bankruptcy and our wonderful leaders care more about their reputations than our children’s future.

  9. KenD says:

    To Bob Janssen
    It is over a week since I gave you the sources of my information on the then DCSF priority and the Bedford BSF spending timetable. Either quote the publicly available reference that you use to call my comment “absolute nonsense” or have the courtesey to withdraw that slur.

  10. KenD says:

    To Bob Janssen
    Who are you? Goggle fails to find any references to your claimed publications. I will apologise if my search was inadequate.
    But where is your rigor?
    Why have Bedford schools produced lower GCSE attainment than their Statistical Neighbours has been answerred in detail and fully referenced by a public document provided to Bedford Councillors. I can show evidence from DfE (DCSF)tables that show a clear relationship between net education spending per pupil and GCSE attainment. I quote from an earlier blog:
    “In Bedfordshire during 2008-9 we spent £3,961 per pupil on education; the national average is £187 (sorry £197) per pupil higher and we are £79 per pupil behind our statistical neighbours.
    It is self-evident that the more money is available per pupil, then the higher the quality of educational provision is possible, as long as of course this money was given direct to schools rather than spent on bureaucracy.
    To put this in context, in a school of 400 pupils (a nice human-sized middle school for example), this would provide about £80K extra. This might be 2 teachers’ worth. Meaning that other teachers could be freed to concentrate on liaison with lower and upper schools – that troublesome transition that Ofsted hasn’t seemed to have identified in any reports…or it could provide extra Learning Support Assistants, or help provide extra subject specialists, or funding for visits, or books, or computers, or…
    Oh well, perhaps the nanny-state knows best after all. Maybe schools don’t need that money. Maybe it would be wasted on schools.
    Maybe we need to ask local government why we are underspending on our children?
    POSTSCRIPT: In 2009-10 in Bedford Borough, the underspend was £220 per pupil – even greater – and that is another £8K for that average middle school. Astonishing.”
    As for Whiltshire I quote DCSF evidence and personal; knowledge, the repeat of an earlier blog entry:
    “Evidence NOT opinion.
    Wiltshire has had just about every form of school structure known, in Salisbury half of the city was single sex Grammar and Secondary Modern, the other less historic and more challenged half was 3-Tier. Westwood St Thomas was a large comprehensive Upper School with problems. Only 27% with 5 GCSE A* to C in 1999 but it was steadily improving – then Wiltshire County Council decided to get rid of its small number of Middle Schools. Westwood was closed and replaced with Salisbury High comprehensive secondary school in 2005.
    What happened to the Westwood feeder Middle Schools in their last 3 years – no music teachers, no modern language teachers, no ICT specialists and only half of the specialist sports staff they should have had. There were lots of temporary supply teachers, the remaining permanent staff were demoralised and just could not run all of the clubs and activities the schools had previously provided.
    Westwood achieved 46% with 5 GCSE A* to C in its last year 2005. In 2006 Salisbury High achieved 41% with 5 GCSE A* to C, in 2006 44%, in 2008 43%. The secondary school even after 3 years had not managed to produce the same attainment as Westwood had in its last year and, worse, its rate of improvement is negligible. If Westwood had not been totally disrupted by the change to 2-Tier it may have been producing GCSE results 10% better than Salisbury High in 2008.”
    If you wish to denigrate the honest research and analysis carried out by a experienced professional principal analysts and statisticians please grant us the reference to the evidence (not belief or opinion) that you base your statements on.

  11. JamesD says:

    The BSF decision for Bedford:
    The Bedford Academy Academy – for discussion
    Biddenham Stopped
    Greys Centre PRU Stopped
    Hastingsbury Stopped
    Mark Rutherford Stopped
    Mark Rutherford – Central Campus Stopped
    Ridgeway Special Stopped
    Sharnbrook Stopped
    Sharnbrook Oakley Campus Stopped
    St John’s Special Stopped
    St Thomas More RC Stopped
    Wixams Stopped
    Wootton Stopped
    WHAT NOW MR HODGSON?

  12. KDev says:

    The outcome we all dreaded – no BSF funds for Bedford schools.
    18 months wasted whilst Council Officers insisted that they knew better than the Ministry. Then add on the change to 2-tier and the reorganisation of Special Education.
    Ego over evidence, belief and opinion over evidence. Caution thrown away in pursuit of the big project.
    If only the voters had the power of recall we would not have to wait until May 2011 to cleanse Bedford Borough Council of those who were prepared to risk the children’s futures just on their beliefs.

  13. jonathan parsons says:

    seems the storm is upon us, so bob, Mr Mayor is it not time we forget our differences take what we have and work to protect our children’s education, in time we may be able to work towards a common education system that may even mean two tier, but for heavens sake let’s put egos aside, and put this folly to rest before bedford’s education becomes RIP along with bedford undergoing a name change to deadford

  14. JJBLAKE says:

    it looks like the arrogancy of those who make the decisions about education, despite opinions of parents has come back and bit them on the butt. I like thousands of parents were against changing the tier system. And we shared that fact and were ignored. The opinion papers on this decision were ignored, though it was the opinion to invest in what we have it was decided not enough people returned there vote so it was decided it was not conclusive. ( we didnt agree so we were ignored). The councillors vote was a margin decision. enough to start spending money that had not been guaranteed. And now it seems this money will never appear. in the meantime a special needs school gets closed. maybe the wasted money could have been invested into preventing this closure. A friend who works with special needs children in a mainstream school, has said that some of them should not be in mainstream as they need more support and not all teachers understand their needs.
    although the scrapping of BSF is going to effect places in dire need, i am glad that we will not get this money, so my daughter and others will not suffer the disruption that would have been inevetable.

    So who is going to pay for the money already spent? No answer needed really!

    stop wasting our money and start listening to those whos lifes your decisions impact.

  15. jonathan parsons says:

    well according to the press release two tier is now dead, but it may one day rear its ugly head again, so let us now concentrate on the upcoming elections, in a attempt to remove the exponents of this vile cause, till then though mr Mayor can you and all your colleags please return 485,000 pounds to schools so thay can get on with the roll or reparing the mess you have created, see you all in May then

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