Monday, 4 February 2008

Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater

Evidently, the responses from the first stage of the "consultation" process suggests that there is enough public interest to review the age of transfer*. It can not be denied that there is some disagreement in the Rother Valley about the practicality of transferring schools in the midst of KS2, and then again in KS3. Let's note here that the age of transfer debate- which was the specific focus of the "consultation"- is not the same thing as a debate about completely transforming the nature of education!

To be fair, within the Authority's published documents, and in the speeches made at the public meetings were indications of significant change to Rother Valley Schools, and how the next steps forward might address various issues. For example, there has been some public dissatisfaction aired regarding the facilities at the Grammar School, which no doubt some people would like to see improved as a part of this process.

But do not be fooled! Recent statements from county hall officials would have us all believe that the only way to improve provision would be a wholesale hand-over of every aspect of the secondary school: land, buildings, governance, curriculum and more... forever. When it's gone, it's gone- no turning back, no more consultations: any more changes the new owners want to make to this school (which won't be new forever, after all) is their prerogative. Its impact on the community and your views may be taken into account. But then again, they may not. You may be consulted, in the way that any company may consult the public, should they choose to do so. But if it is not in their interest, why would they?

A sponsor may make promises which allay our anxieties; officials can give sound-bites to tantalise worried parents (or even the "ambitious young parents" which Mr Dunn purports will be flocking to Midhurst to get their children into the academy). But by and large, they are not bound to any promises.

Again: when it's gone, it's gone. We have a lot to lose with an academy, for a very short-term gain. If we, the community, wish for change and improvement, let us work for that together in the public arena because we can do that while it is still a public institution. We don't have to give it over lock, stock and barrel to a company who have nothing to lose (sponsors are no longer even required to part with any actual cash) and very much to gain.

*though the wording in the questionnaire was such that in order to be positive, one had to indicate that s/he wanted change

1 comment:

Ocky said...

The consultation to date has been rushed. WSCC know that Cambridge University is reviewing the evidence on whether a two-tier or three-tier system is better for our children's education. This review will report in the Autumn, but WSCC want to make a final decision before then. They have not given any convincing reason for the rush, so perhaps they think there is a risk that the review will recommend a three-tier system, and that this will prevent them selling off as many schools as they want.