New school at Paston Reserve/Manor Drive is just a “buffer”

What’s this to do with?

At a meeting of the Council’s Children and Education Scrutiny Committee, on which I sit on as the Lib Dem rep, we were told that, the new secondary schools at Hampton Gardens and Paston Reserve “…would provide a buffer to the additional capacity required in the City.”

The report also stated that, there “.. is currently a shortage of school places in Peterborough.”

You may remember that the Tories at the Town Hall chose to close schools like John Mansfield and Bretton Woods in 2002, despite warnings from councillors at the time!

What does Darren think?

Put simply, I think this is Council phraseology to say, when it comes to school places in the city, we are up a certain creek without the required paddle!

The Tories are looking for any excuse to try and justify their terrible decision to close secondary schools in Peterborough over a decade ago.

It seems that no planning was done, no one envisaged an increase in the population, or the need to have sufficient school places, despite some at the Council crowing about “growing the right way!

The biggest worry of course is the impact this has had on several generations and how it will affect pupils in Peterborough over the coming years.

Interestingly at the same meeting, the Tory leader of the Council tried to say that the decision to close secondary schools such as John Mansfield and Bretton Woods taken in 2002, was due to a Government directive and enabled the local authority to bid for money to improve existing school buildings – That’s a new excuse for me regarding the derisory decision!

Worth noting …….

  • At the same meeting the Council said they intended to undertake a review of the Primary schools estate, schools such as Norwood and Gunthorpe were being assessed for expansion.

Given the problems with parking at these two schools already, I suspect nearby residents will be concerned about any possible increase in pupil numbers?

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AMVC and FA will run new schools at Manor Drive/Paston Reserve?

What’s this to do with?

Well the area, popularly known as Manor Drive, is presently experiencing a high volume of development.

In recent times, due to shortages in school places locally, the Tories at the Town, announced they’d be scrapping previously agreed affordable housing, in order to agree to build a new primary and secondary school, at the aforementioned location.

At a recent scrutiny committee meeting, I was told that:

“A free school bid had been made by Arthur Mellows Village College for the Paston Reserve Primary School in Sept 2016. They would also submit a free school bid for the Secondary School at Paston….”

I can now confirm that the Department for Education have announced that Arthur Mellows Village College (AMVC) in partnership with Fulbridge Academy (FA), have been successful in their bid to run the planned primary and secondary schools.

What does Darren think?

Myself and my colleague, Cllr Julia Davidson, have previously held meetings with representatives from Fulbridge Academy, who have shown an interest in being involved in the running of the primary school. But aside from that, we’ve had little or no information from anyone else.

I’m surprised that given much of the land being sold/developed is owned by the Church, that the Church of England Diocese and the Catholic Diocese didn’t fancy the idea of running at least one of the schools?

That said, I have recently requested an update from the Council’s Education Service Director.

Worth knowing…

  • According to the City Council, the intention is to open the primary school in September 2018, although this may “be deferred until September 2019 to open concurrent with the secondary school.”
  • Both schools will end up taking 420 pupils. Both schools WILL follow the national curriculum.

Additional reading …..

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Academisation set to cost City Council hundreds of thousands of £’s!

What’s this about then?

As reported last year, the Tory government is pretty much forcing schools to become academies, and it’s said that every school in Peterborough will be run by an academy trust by 2025.

However, as detailed in this years Budget Consultation document, the Tory controlled City Council in Peterborough, say they expect to lose around £610,000 over the next 5 years, as a result!

The loss figure has been arrived at, as the Council will no longer receive business rates from schools.

At preset just over a quarter of the city’s schools are academies meaning they run independently of the city council and receive funding directly from Government.

With every school that converts to an academy, the council sees a reduction in the amount it receives in business rates and therefore won’t receive the amount that has been budgeted for in coming years. – PCC

What does Darren think?

If schools are performing well, why should they need to change? And if academisation is so brilliant, why do schools have to be forced to do it?

And why would anyone want schools with no parent governors? Not even one?

Not forgetting that the democratic accountability will be removed, as they’ll no longer be accountable to the local authority, which is made up of people elected by the local population to hold such organisations to account?

It doesn’t make any sense at all.

Unless of course it’s just an expensive way to eradicate previously poor Ofsted reports?

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Cash strapped Conservative Council announce plans to spend £150,000 on educational consultants!

externalconsultants

What’s this to do with?

As reported in the Peterborough Telegraph recently, Tories at the Town Hall, have decided to pay education specialists £150,000 “..to help improve primary school results.”

These “experts” are from an organisation called Success for All, which is based in Cathedral Square, and apparently they’ll be helping the five most under performing schools in the city.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Peterborough came second last in the recent SATS results.

My thoughts are ……

Do we not already have hundreds of educational experts in the city?

I mean, teachers, ex-teachers, educational officers at the Town Hall and ……. not forgetting Tory boy, Cllr John Holdich, who’s job title is Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Education, Skills, and University, and Communications – a role that entitles him to collect an additional allowance (on top of his basic salary) of £20,761.04 a year!

Also, why do we not have a FREE, easy to use central communications portal for local teachers, governors, councillors, council officers etc to be part of?

Why not simply create a secure Facebook group?

Don’t forget….!

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please do feel free to post a comment below!

City Council should NOT use immigration as a reason for poor primary school results!

img_7632

What’s this to do with?

A recent article in the Peterborough Telegraph, reported that a recipient of a ‘Literacy Hero’ award by the National Literacy Trust, Richard O’Neill, had said the “…council should not use high levels of immigration as a reason for it having the second worst results from pupils leaving primary school.”

His comments came in response to Peterborough’s terrible SATS results.

My thoughts are ……

I myself have no doubt that senior Tory councillors, and some well paid officers at the Town Hall, use the issue of immigration as an excuse for a whole range of things.

  • If it’s to do with a lack of housing, it’s not their failure to build homes or the fact they sold off the council houses, it’s the fault of the immigrants!
  • If it’s to do with a lack of school places, it’s nothing to do with the Tories closing down schools like Bretton Woods etc it’s the fault of the immigrants!
  • If it’s to do with a lack of decent jobs in our city, it’s not the Tories failure to attract decent employers, it’s the fault of the immigrants!

Given the Tories have been running the City Council since the year 2000, I think local people are starting to realise that they have failed to do the job required of them!

Also, for the record, I have seen first hand, via official Council committee reports, that immigration has in fact improved the standards of mathematics in our city.

But you’ll never see a press release from the Tory controlled City Council on this type of thing!

Don’t forget….!

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please do feel free to post a comment below!

Just 23% of pupils at The Voyager Academy scored A*-C grades in English and Maths!

voyager school

What’s this to do with?

Well basically, it relates to the recent news that the Voyager Academy has been taken over by the Thomas Deacon Academy Education Trust.

The academy had been run by the Cam Academy Trust.

You may remember that the school had previously been placed in to special measures?

It is currently rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ by Ofsted.

My thoughts are ……

Back in 2003, Liberal Democrat and Liberal Councillors, publicly opposed the Tory plans which included closing down local schools and amalgamating Bretton Woods with Walton Comprehensive.

I have serious doubts about the practicality of a school serving both Bretton and Walton – they may appear close on the map, but that it illusory. – Cllr Spencer (2003)

The real shame of course here, is all the pupils over recent years, living in the areas of Walton, Gunthorpe, Werrington etc who have not received the support they deserved.

A bad decision by the ruling Tory elite at the Town Hall has sadly come back to bite them on the rear, and given students a knock back as they try to develop their own career.

Don’t forget….!

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please do feel free to post a comment below!

New Schools located at Manor Drive, Gunthorpe, will open ……

 

Manor Drive

During our door knocking exercises this year, one of the big questions from residents living along or just off Manor Drive relates to what is happening with the plan to build schools at the location.

So at a previous Full Council meeting I stood up and asked the Leader of the City Council what they had planned.

He told me that the Paston Primary, which includes 1 Form of Entry (i.e. 210 pupils) has an estimated opening date of September 2018, while the Paston Secondary School, which will have a maximum of 8 Forms of Entry (1200 pupils + a 6th form) is targeted to open September 2019.

You might also remember reading about how the Council went back on their original agreement to provide a certain percentage of affordable housing in the Manor Drive area?

The reason they did this is because they were desperate for a new secondary school and therefore wavered the affordable housing provision in lieu of the provision of land for a new secondary school.

Don’t forget that the same Tories who closed down HoneyHill, Bretton Woods etc are the ones now desperate for school places!

Then of course …………. there’s the question of how will the City Council ensure that the area isn’t invaded by parking parents at certain times of the week?

Wasdale Gardens

I’ve recently become a Governor at Gunthorpe Primary School!

Gunthorpe Primary School

I’ve recently had the pleasure of becoming a School Governor at Gunthorpe Primary School, and following my first meeting, I have to say I am encouraged by the commitment and ideas shown by other members of the board.

I’ve been a governor before at Ken Stimpson, and earlier in the year, at a committee meeting, Council Officers were highlighting the need for more people to become governors.

So I put my name down.

Now I can assure you that I am not short of things to do, but playing a positive role in the education of local young people and helping promote the good work done by the local school, was far too much of an attraction to not take up the challenge.

Gunthorpe Primary School2

Lib Dems Pupil Premium policy has given hundreds of thousands of £’s to schools in this area

WerringtonPrimarySchool

The Liberal Democrats have certainly got a lot of stick for taking part in the coalition government between 2010 and 2015, but, it was certainly not all bad! Especially when it comes to providing support for schools like Norwood, Gunthorpe, Werrington and Welbourne Primary Schools!

The other year I was appointed to a special group at the Town Hall which aimed to improve city schools and managed to get cross-party agreement to make ‘pupil premiums’ and their impact locally one of the group’s first priorities.

As a result, details of the what and where the pupil premium gets spent on is now published on the schools’ websites!

The Pupil Premium is additional funding given to schools so that they can support ‘disadvantaged’ pupils. It aims to help these pupils do at least as well
in their education as the rest of the children in the school.

The Pupil Premium was one of the key measures argued for by Liberal Democrats during the negotiations that set up the coalition government.

The Pupil Premium is extra support for the children who need it the most, whether it is catch-up classes, one-to one tuition, extra IT support – whatever
the school thinks best.

Fewer children falling behind means less disruption in class and a better education for everyone. Therefore, it is important that the city council understands how local schools are spending their premium.

  • The Pupil Premium was one of four policy priorities that the Liberal Democrats put on the front page of their 2010 General Election manifesto.

Links to each schools pupil premium reports

  • Welbourne Primary School – There pupil premium has rises from £36,000 in 2012/13 to £94,000 in 2015/2016
  • Norwood Primary School – In 2014/15 received £51,000, which was spent on things like providing school uniform vouchers, higher level teaching assistants to deliver English booster groups in Year 2 and Year 6 and purchased additional electronic reading resources to engage pupils and improve rates of reading progress in Year 4…… to name but a few things!
  • Werrington Primary School – In 20154/15 the school received £78,000, and children received additional teaching support and help as a result.
  • Gunthorpe Primary School – Has so far received £222,640 and have used the money on awhole range of things to help those children who most need it!

 

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West Town Primary to relocate on former hospital site (Thorpe Road)

Peterborough District Hospital site
Peterborough District Hospital, built in continuous phases between 1960 and 1968 and including, from 1970, Peterborough Maternity Unit. SOURCE

So ….. building work has started on a new primary school on the former hospital site on Thorpe Road, Peterborough.

Although technically, it’s NOT a new school, as the new building will house West Town Primary Academy who are relocating from Williamson Avenue.

The Council says the new building will open in 2016 (presume September?) and provide places for 630 pupils – double the number at the existing site.

So hopefully, it will help out a little with our city’s impending school places shortfall over the coming years?

The £6 million project is part of the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme, a scheme launched under the Liberal Democrat/Tory coalition and provides an opportunity for the City Council to try and take as much credit for, as possible!

SHOCK HORROR! The building works are being carried out by Kier Construction that local firm, based in Sandy, Bedfordshire – who also got the £9,500,000 project for the POSH ground, the £24,000,000 Stanground Academy building project, the £14,250,000 Nene Park Academy scheme …… to name but a few!

The council will be contributing £500,000 to help finance the cost of the school build and around £1.5 million towards associated works around the completion of the school.

Don’t panic though, the Tory controlled City Council haven’t just found some pounds down the back of the couch! No, they’ve borrowed the money once more, which means we’ll all be paying this back over the next 15 years 🙂

At least they have respected the historic Memorial Hall, as it will be maintained as a lasting memorial, and I’ll be interested to see how the new school being used as a “modern community hub” works out, too?

School website: www.westtownprimary.org

Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust website: www.cmatrust.co.uk

Kier Construction website: www.kier.co.uk

As always, I’d welcome your comments or thoughts below! 🙂