Campaign launch: Against forced academisation

ITV Meridian news 6.4.16The meeting on Wednesday evening (6 April 2016) attracted an audience of almost 100 people to discuss how to oppose the forced academisation of schools in Brighton and Hove and across the country. There were teachers and school support workers, heads, governors, parents, teacher trainers, and students. As the chair Simeon Elliott said, the degree of expertise in education present in the room was formidable. There was great determination to launch a campaign and a strong sense that this is a campaign that we can win. Click on the photo to see the Meridian TV report of the meeting.

Forced academisation wasn’t in the Tories’ manifesto. It’s obvious why not – it was bound to be an unpopular policy and they knew that many of their own candidates and supporters would be against it. The meeting was strongly against forced academisation. The idea, promoted by the Labour leadership of Brighton and Hove City Council, that the council might establish a local academy trust was roundly rejected. We are against academisation in principle. Establishing a trust would be to do the Government’s dirty work for it and can only neutralise opposition. We should fight back while the Tories are split. The council in Birmingham has voted to reject forced academisation; B+H CC should do the same.

We know that there are problems in education. There is a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. Funding cuts are harming children’s education. Many areas are short of school places. Primary testing is proving unworkable. These are problems largely created by this Government and they will not be solved by the proposals in the White Paper. Continue reading


Questions for the University of Brighton Academies Trust

In September’s announcement of another wave of free schools, there was no mention of the free school proposed for Brighton and Hove. The application comes from the University of Brighton Academies Trust (UoBAT), although the Trust claims that its application is made with the support of Brighton and Hove Council.

Whilst the school is described as a free school, it is in effect an academy which will be entirely run by the University Trust. As we wait to hear whether the trust’s application is successful, we have some questions about the role the Trust is seeking to adopt in the local education system. Continue reading

Cuts in the Pre-School Special Educational Needs Service in Brighton and Hove

The National Union of Teacher’s Representative of Brighton and Hove’s Pre-School Special Educational Needs Service has issued this press release.

The National Union of Teachers staff in Brighton and Hove City Council’s Pre-School Special Educational Needs Service (PRESENS) believe strongly that the council’s proposed redesign of the Learning Support Services, which entails significantly reducing the number of pre-school teachers, and deleting the highly regarded PRESENS team from the council’s structure, will result in some of the most vulnerable pre-school children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) receiving a significantly diminished service. It is likely that these cuts will damage these children’s life-long educational outcomes.

In addition to the likely negative impact on educational outcomes for children, these cuts could eventually cost the council more money than it saves, if parents and carers lose confidence in the council’s ability to make good provision for pre-school children with SEND and their families.

We understand that the budgetary pressures that have forced the council to consider these cuts have been caused by central government’s reduction to the funding of local authorities.

We accept the need to redesign the Learning Support Services, but we would ask the council to work with us and find a way to redesign the service in ways which preserve quality teaching provision for vulnerable pre-school children.

For more detail of the proposals, see Simeon Elliott’s blogpost further down this page.

Simeon Elliott, NUT staff team representative for PRESENS

Paul Shellard, Secretary of Brighton and Hove NUT

One rule for grammar schools, another for the rest of us?

If we can provide additional grammar school places by building annexes to existing schools does that mean we can provide additional local authority comprehensive school places in the same way?

The announcement that a grammar school in Kent is to be allowed to open an annexe in a separate town raises interesting questions for the Free School proposal in Brighton and Hove. The rationale which has always been given by both the Local Authority and the University of Brighton is that a Free School is the only way to provide Brighton with the additional secondary school places it is going to need in the near future. For the Local Authority it is the explanation of why they were happy to support the University of Brighton Free School application while the University of Brighton have said they were happy to respond to the Local Authority’s invitation to put in a bid as part of their ‘civic responsibility’.

Continue reading

GCSE results and the pupil premium

What does the data tell us about local schools?

The comments below relate to Tom Bewick’s article ‘Let’s make sure every young person achieves success’, published in the Brighton and Hove Independent, 28 August 2015.

The article (together with Greg Hadfield’s article in the same issue) provides data concerning the pass rates at GCSE for the nine state secondary schools in Brighton and Hove. In particular, pass rates are given for students who qualify for the pupil premium and for those who don’t (PP and NPP students).

Continue reading

Brighton Children’s Centre Campaign is launched

Report from Nadia Edmond (for updates see Brighton Children’s Centre Campaign page)

On Friday 30th January, thirty parents, carers and others concerned about the threat to Children’s Centres in Brighton and Hove (see Save our Children’s Centres on our Early Years page) met at the Brighthelm to establish a campaign to fight proposed cuts. All were passionate about saving Childen’s Centres but equally passionate that this should not be at the expense of cuts elsewhere. There was an overwhelming rejection of austerity and cuts. Continue reading

SERTUC Education Conference, Sat 7 February, London

A major conference on education organised by South-East Region TUC (SERTUC) with support from the Anti Academies Alliance and Reclaiming Education. After five years of the Coalition’s policies our education system is fragmented, under-resourced and over stretched. Thousands of schools have been removed from local accountability and handed to academy sponsors – often against the wishes of parents and teachers and too often with disastrous consequences. The flagship Free Schools policy is in tatters and the spectre of privatisation continues to haunt schools. There is an urgent need to discuss what we do now and how we rebuild a high quality and more equitable education system. This is the purpose of this major conference.
The conference will take place at Congress House, Great Russell St, London (registration 9.30am for 10.00am start) and we have been very fortunate to secure an impressive range of speakers and contributors. Linda Norrby from the Swedish teaching union Laraforbundet will speak on ‘What we can learn from the Swedish Free School experiment’. Mary Bousted (ATL), Kevin Countney (NUT), Megan Dobney (SERTUC), Dr Patrick Roach (NASUWT), Professor Gus John (Institute of Education) and speakers from the GMB, Unison and Unite will make important contributions. The conference will include an Education Question Time chaired by Zoe Williams from The Guardian with a panel including Natalie Bennett (Green Party), Jonathan Simons (Policy Exchange) and Alasdair Smith (Anti Academies Alliance). Workshop sessions will include Reclaiming Education, Hands Off Hove Park Campaign, Alliance for Inclusive Education, Communities for Empowerment Network, Our Community Our Schools and others.
A flyer for the conference is here SERTUC AAA conf flier 26 1 15 pdf.
Tickets are free (but in demand) and registration is essential. Email or call 020 7467 1220.