The Last Post?

July 7, 2010

Today Bedford Borough released a statement confirming they were scrapping plans to change to two-tier education. You can read about it here.

It is now imperative that David Sawyer (the portfolio holder for Education) ensures that we are not embroiled in the same skirmishes in 3,4,5 years’ time. It is now time to repair the damage done to our education system by ill-conceived and poorly executed change, to encourage further co-operation between schools across the tiers, and to give teachers a clear message that their careers are safe in middle schools.

The very first thing David should do, of course, is to re-open Woodside Middle School, rather than send Years 7 and 8 to sit in portacabins on the Mark Rutherford site.

This is the time to commit to teaching and learning in our current system for the next 20-30 years. You never know, in the meantime the rest of the country might realise just what they have been missing…

Stop Press: Wed 14th July. The Mayor said at the Full Council meeting tonight that the closure notices on schools would be rescinded “by the end of term”.

Stop Press 2: Fri 16th July. The Council have now said there needs to be a statutory consultation period for 6 weeks before revoking the closure notices…(so the left-hand doesn’t appear to know what the right-hand is doing)…confidence-inspiring stuff indeed…

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Yes Minister…

July 6, 2010

Yesterday in the House of Commons Michael Gove announced that only schools that had achieved “financial closure” would receive the BSF funds they were bidding for. MPs seemed confused by what “financial closure” actually was, but I can’t say I blame them as it is metastage 7, stage 9 of BSF according to PfS (or something equally bureaucratic). Michael Gove brought an example of some of the documents needed to be submitted during part of one of the 9 metastages, but I think he hurt his back in the process. Toby Young describes the inefficiencies of BSF further here.

Sadly, the bottom line for Bedford Borough is that, to quote a now infamous line “There is no money left”. The exception is Bedford Academy which has been listed as “under discussion”.

Without substantial BSF funding we would be risking our whole education system by attempting wholesale structural change – we were told repeatedly during the consultation process that Bedford Borough would be different, that the money did exist, and we would not make the same mistakes as Northampton and Suffolk.

There is no popular or political mandate for change without BSF funding – the whole project should now be halted and reversed by a vote of Full Council. In a time of austerity and with local authorities fragmenting as schools chase the money available to academies, the pendulum has swung away from centralised control, and with such uncertainty hanging over everybody, our children (and teachers!) deserve an education undamaged by unfunded, chaotic change.