Ofsted and a political agenda

I have a mate who has taught at a FE College in the area for approaching 25 years. He is an excellent teacher who knows his subject- History extremely well. In fact it’s a subject of some annoyance to him that he has to spend a great deal of time addressing large gaps in the knowledge of the students such as pointing out where Germany is on a map before he can run a class on the First World War. He told me the other day that he is expecting the College to fail its inspection. One factor in the apparent down grading of the number of students leaving as a consequence of EMA being removed a consequence of coalition policy and little to do with any systemic failing in the college. Continue reading

Opinion: Gove the Bully

We are seeing a transformation of schools, for the worse in my personal opinion, from local community schools to academies controlled by central government. Tragically both the previous Labour government and the current Conservative government are imposing this on us, there has been little choice for the electorate as the two major parties both promote it. Democracy is eroded in academies because in many cases parent and staff representation on governing bodies is minimal.

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National Award For Stoke Speaks Out

Stoke Speaks Out, which helps younger children with language and speech problems and which is currently under threat of closure as part of the £33m savings package, has won the Workforce Development Award at the Children and Young People Now Awards in London.

The awards ceremony which was attended by Education Secretary Michael Gove who said in his keynote address,

Gathered in this room are some of the some of the most inspiring, idealistic and impressive people in the country. The job that I do at the heart of government is made not just easier but possible by the efforts that all of you, and those that you work with, put in to raise attainment and aspiration and to lift the hearts of children across the country.

The City Council which is led by the Labour party, are currently consulting with the public about the proposed £33m savings that need to be made. The savings package includes proposals for Stoke Speaks Out as well as a number of childrens centres to be closed.

These awards recognise the excellent work being carried out throughout our children’s services and I would like to congratulate all those who won and were nominated. Helping our young people, in whatever way, is extremely important and these events help to highlight the valuable contributions made by the numerous groups and individuals involved in children’s services.

How do you feel about this important and now award winning resource being potentially closed?

Rob Flello Seeks Clarification on Stoke-on-Trent BSF Funding

Stoke-on-Trent South MP Rob Flello quizzed Prime Minister David Cameron on whether Stoke-on-Trent will receive enough Building Schools for the Future funding to complete the construction of the planned secondary schools.

Mr Flello took the opportunity during yesterday’s [Wednesday] Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister will be aware that by 7 July the Education Secretary would have already understood the financial situation and the “state of the books”, as the Prime Minister is so keen to keep stating, so why on 7 July, in this House, did the Education Secretary say:

“One announcement that I was able to make on Monday was that Stoke-on-Trent, as a local authority that has reached financial close, will see all the schools under Building Schools for the Future rebuilt”

Is there some confusion between the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary?

The Prime Minister was in no mood to reassure the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South.

We were left a complete mess in terms of Building Schools for the Future. Here was a programme that took up three years and hundreds of millions of pounds before a single brick was laid. The cost of building those schools was twice what it should have been, so we have scrapped that programme and made available £15 billion for the next four years. That means that school building will be higher under this Government than it was under the Labour Government starting in 1997.

The recent announcement by Michael Gove that those school building schemes spared, are now facing cuts in funding of 40%, despite their being given the green light when he reduced Labour’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme in July.

This will effect some 600 and will realise potential savings of £6bn. The announcement now throws the building of the so called “sample schools” specifically given the thumbs up by the Department for Education back in August.

Just how this latest announcement will impact on Stoke-on-Trent remains unclear.

It may well throw the future of the Discovery Academy into doubt.

The controversial school was to be sited on the Willfield Community Centre location.

The Community Schools Action Group, who are campaigning for a school to be retained on the Mitchell High School site, will be watching developments very closely indeed.
Joan Walley MP for Stoke-on-Trent North has also raised the issue about BSF funding in Parliament today.

She called for an urgent debate on the issue and was met with a noncommittal response.

BSF Announcement What Does It Mean For Stoke-on-Trent

The Secretary Of State for Education Michael Gove MP this afternoon announced sweeping cuts to the BSF program.

In his statement to the house this evening Michael Gove confirmed what was widely expected, that any projects which are not at ‘Financial Close’ are suspended until after a review of the BSF program has been undertaken. Financial Close is the point where building has started or is due to start imminently.

There are roughly 1400 projects in the BSF program and Michael Gove said roughly half have been suspended while half will go ahead.

Michael Gove said the BSF program was mired down in red tape and bureaucracy. He gave examples of 9 meta stages each with sub stages, which councils had to complete before a BSF project could go ahead.

He said it was ‘no surprise’ that it could take up to 3 years before a builder was contracted or a brick was laid.

During his questions and responses after his statement, Michael Gove clearly had a list of all the schools affected by his cuts but refused to publish it and forced MPs to ask which schools in their constituencies were affected.

Rob Flello MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, asked about the schools in Stoke-on-Trent as they were in phase 1 of the BSF project. Michael Gove confirmed that projects in Stoke-on-Trent will go ahead.

  • 20:20 Discovery Academy Unaffected
  • Co-operative Academy at Brownhills Unaffected
  • Stoke on Trent 3 (Berry Hill/St Peters) Unaffected
  • Stoke on Trent 5 (Blurton) Unaffected
  • Stoke on Trent 6 (James Brindley) Unaffected
  • Birches Head Open (11/2007)
  • Sandon High Open (02/2008)
  • Abbey Hill Unaffected
  • Aynsley Special Unaffected
  • Edensor school Unaffected
  • Haywood Unaffected
  • Heathfield Special Unaffected
  • Holden Lane Unaffected
  • Kemball Special Unaffected
  • Longton school Unaffected
  • Middlehurst Special Unaffected
  • Mitchell school Unaffected
  • St Josephs (RC) Unaffected
  • St Margaret Ward (RC) Unaffected
  • St Thomas More (RC) Unaffected
  • Thistley Hough Unaffected
  • Trent Vale Unaffected
  • Trentham Unaffected

So after years of negotiation, call ins and waiting it looks Like Stoke-on-Trent has fallen lucky and is not affected by the cuts to the BSF program