Saturday, 2 February 2008


The NAME campaign was started in response to the (West Sussex) Local Authority's drive to close the 3 secondary schools in the Rother Valley and establish an academy in their place. The campaign and this blog aim to provide the information which you will not receive in the blink-of-an-eye* "consultation" period led by officials who intend to impose an academy upon our community. Cabinet Member Dunn has, after all, called the academy "the only show in town".** It is unlikely that they would wish their plans to be seen as an imposition, so the idea is being sold. The NAME campaign does not wish it to be sold to an unsuspecting public. We do not wish for their plan- or our school- to be sold at all, full stop.

The first part of the acronym of the NAME name is clear: No Academy. We hope to inform you of the many reasons why transferring our children's education to an unaccountable third party should not happen. It is a matter of great importance to all who live in the community, whether or not you have school-age children. The latter part of NAME was formulated following speculation about the siting of "new" secondary school which West Sussex proposes. We do not want an academy in Midhurst or in Easebourne; we do not want one at all.

*The very narrow time-frame allowed by WSCC has only been marginally widened as a result of the press breaking the story of their proposals. They weren't due to be published at this time.
** Midhurst and Petworth Observer 31/01/08


well young said...

I don't think most people know what an academy is. I didn't until someone explained it to me last night. I thought academies sounded like a good name for a school, and other people might too. Not everyone gets the local paper. But most people would know what you meant if you said the school would be privatised.

Anonymous said...

Grammar out - Academy in

Huge educational shake-up on way for Rother Valley

By Jenny Mouland

Radical proposals for a state,of-the-art Academy school in the Midhurst area have been unveiled, which would change the face of education in the Rother Valley.

Details of the ground-breaking plans were revealed this week by West Sussex County Council cabinet member for children and young people's services Mark Dunn and director Robert Back.

They say the proposal would bring a massive injection of central government cash for the building of a new secondary school for 11 to 18-year-olds.

And they are confident it would mean an educationallystrengthened secondary school in the Midhurst area, providing the best schooling.

"We could be onto something here which gives us the best school in the county," said Mr Dunn this week.

"We honestly believe that ambitious young parents would move to Midhurst to get their children into this school."

Mr Back told the Observer the academy proposal, which could put Rother Valley school children at the forefront of education across the country, had taken shape only shortly before Christmas.

This was after the first round of consultation meetings, which aired in public the proposals from the county council to replace the , current three-tier schooling system in the Rother Valley with all-through primary schools and a single transfer to secondary schooling at the age of 11.

"In the midst of that process this other idea of the possibility of an academy started to emerge," said Mr Back.

"We have discussed this with the governing bodies of Midhurst Grammar, Midhurst Intermediate and Herbert Shiner Intermediate Schools and all three recognise the potential the proposals could have," said Mr Dunn.

"The benefits for young people in the Rother Valley now and for generations to come could be enormous.

"It's quite clear from talking to the DCSF (The department for Children, Schools and Families) that there is riot another route to this scale of investment in our education system.

"The only show in town is the academy unless we wait at least another ten years - this is a maghificent opportunity to do something quite dramatic."

The academy proposal will be the county council's leading option when it goes out to public consultation again, in the next six weeks, on its plans to reorganise education.

The county council has identified the United Church Schools Trust as its 'preferred sponsor'.

This trust already runs 13 academies through its subsidiary the United Learning Trust (ULT) and also manages 11 independent schools across the country, including the high-achieving Guildford High School.

"This is an opportunity for us to work with a sponsor who has an educational background and a very clear purpose," said Mr Dunn. .

If the academy went ahead, he said, it would bring a new educational relationship between the local authority, the community and its schools.

West Sussex County Council says the headteacher would be appointed by the ULT if the scheme were to go ahead, and teaching staff would be taken over by the academy with existing conditions of service.

The curriculum would be essentially in the hands of the school, as was currently largely the case, and the governing body would consist of representatives from ULT, the local authority, parents, staff and other members of the community.

But one question still remains unanswered - and that is the siting of the new school.

The county council says the location has not yet been decided.

Midhurst & Petworth Observer
31st January 2008, page 1

Anonymous said...

What will an Academy school bring to the area?

The following is a guide to academy schools drawn up by West Sussex County Council

# Publicly-funded independent schools providing free education to pupils of all abilities.

# They are all-ability schools established by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups working in partnerships with central government and local education partners.

# The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) meets the capital and running cost for the Academy in full.

# The Academies programme aims to deliver real improvements in standards.

# Academies provide an excellent environment for teaching and learning comparable with the best available in the maintained sector.

# As well as providing the best opportunities for their pupils, Academies have a key part to play in the regeneration of communities. A new Academy will be a significant focus for learning for its pupils, their families and other local people.

# Each academy is different, drawing on the expertise of its sponsors to help develop its own distinctive ethos and mission. Whether they involve new buildings, refurbishment, or both, Academies will be innovative in design and built to high environmental standards.

# Academies are not bound by the National Curriculum and are free to adopt innovative approaches to the content and delivery of the curriculum.

# In line with maintained schools, Academies will carry out Key Stage assessments and offer qualifications within the national framework. They will also be inspected by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED).

Midhurst & Petworth Observer
31st January 2008, page 1

Anonymous said...

Don't play games - let's fight the plans

So, it's come to this! The long march of privatisation has even reached the gates of our community's most long-cherished public institutions: Herbert Shiner, the intermediate and grammar schools.

Astute readers may recall my letter in November warning the Rother Valley could end up with an independent school - an Academy - rather than three state schools.

Some of us knew this was the case then, as now, even as the plans were concealed from local school staffs.

Indeed a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the cabinet of West Sussex County Council discussed the matter of an Academy on May 22, 2007.

More shockingly, it is clear from the minute that a main reason for the Rother Valley schools restructuring was not age of transfer per se, but county's desire to get the money for an Academy.

Let's be clear: some of Midhurst Grammar School's buildings are run down. But we should also be clear that part-privatising the secondary system is not the only way to get the muchneeded investment: it hasn't happened with Crawley schools' refurbishmnents.

No, this is about WSCC's desire to carry through the New Labour government's flagship Academies programme, as the letter sent to parents from schools makes perfectly clear.

I challenge Mr Tyrie to oppose this pandering to Whitehall's whim.

What a pity headteachers can be persuaded to put a signature to a letter written by the county council for a plan in which they had no involvement and which they know their staff will oppose.

All the three main teaching unions, representing about 85 per cent of teachers, are against Academies and, as in other parts of the country, will take up the fight to keep their members in the public sector.

What we have is another shameful, undemocratic fait accompli, cooked up between county and the DCSF. And what we will get is another sham consultation.

I urge everyone not to play their games this time: let's show them what we think of their 'consultation'. Watch this space: public meetings and campaigning will follow.

Simon Boxley

Anonymous said...

SOME weeks ago, when I first read the Observer headline 'This could be the end for Midhurst Grammar School,' which was based on a report from someone who it seems had little idea of educational research and process, I thought it was some kind of mistake.

Now I read of the fears of Colin Hughes and our town councillors that these plans could become reality without proper public consultation.

Colin Hughes has an instinct for what is right for Midhurst and his comments were an excellent summary of the situation.

I understand at the very time his comments were being published, letters were being circulated in local schools informing them of the option of the closure of their schools and the building of an Academy.

It seems the plan published some weeks ago is being followed and many will be sceptical about the terms 'proposal' and `consultation'.

One can already see the vision of a bright new glass box at Easebourne called, perhaps `The Rother Valley Tesco Academy' or `The Easebourne and District MacDonalds Comprehensive Academy.'

At the same time an ancient school founded more than 300 years ago by Gilbert Hannam for the town of Midhurst will be completely destroyed.

Some days ago I read in The Times the obituary of Lord Crofton, a noted soldier who had died aged 56. 1 was surprised to read he had been educated in Vienna and at Midhurst Grammar School.

I looked at other past pupils and discovered a field marshal, several generals, admirals, vice-admirals, lords and knights of the realm, Sir Charles Lyell, the father of geology, and the author HG Wells.

We hear of pupils today who have reached high office in their chosen professions.

Midhurst Grammar School has a long and distinguished history. It has been and, I am pleased to say, is a very successful school, which should be preserved at all costs.

It is to be hoped the governors of the school and the leadership team will be fighting for its survival.

They should be aware they occupy posts held previously by a long line of eminent men and women, who served the school faithfully over many centuries.

The governors also have the advantage of owning the land of town site, which includes the historic buildings of Capron House and the Schola Grammaticalis school room from the early 19th century.

They are also part-owners of the Lucas House site and the new sports centre so they are in a strong position in negotiating these issues.

Until recently there were clear plans for the rebuilding of the school on the present site, which involved a new build in the area of Lamberts Lane near Rother House and the entrance to River site.

An exciting new school would be built, joining it to the historic area to include piazzas and squares to form a new cohesive school in one area.

The northern entrance to Lamberts Lane would be closed with the remaining section extended north to a new road and a new entrance to the school skirting the river Rother.

This new road system could be extended to form a new by-pass for the town and would enable a new parking area for coaches, removing the pupils from the present bus station and possibly providing additional parking for Cowdray Castle.

Any new building should be constructed on the present site as planned.

The present school buildings, with the addition of some huts, used to accommodate 1,300 pupils. They could be used until the new build was completed which would cause the minimum of disruption to the pupils going through the system at that time.

One might ask why the building of a new school should be at Easebourne with the consequence of traffic chaos and environmental implications. Could it have anything to do with land development and speculation?

One can imagine the countless millions that would be made from the sale of the grammar school site.

It is to be hoped we are really concerned for the welfare and education of our young people and that the real motive is not financial speculation and profit.

I would urge the people of Midhurst and district, past staff and pupils to support our town councillors. Write to Mark Dunn, cabinet member, County Hall, Chichester expressing your opposition to the closure or re-siting of Midhurst Grammar School. Attend any public meeting and fight for the existence of your school and for the future of your town.

A final thought of compromise. If, ultimately, we have to accept an Academy, build it on the present site and name it The Gilbert Hannam Academy, preserving a link with our historic and distinguished past.

Noel Simpson
Midhurst Grammar School
deputy headmaster, 1981-2001