Lack of secondary school

Claudia Conway's picture
 21
I live in an area with a dearth of secondary schools.
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Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 25/04/2012 - 13:15

Yes, so do I. Where I live nearly 70% of resident secondary age pupils travelled out of borough in 2010.

However, when a free school was proposed, the NUT campaigned against it and the council scuppered it.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 25/04/2012 - 14:13

Why did they oppose it Ricky? Was it a well conceived plan?

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 25/04/2012 - 14:24

Perfectly.

Why did they oppose it? Because that's what left wing ideologues do, I guess.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 25/04/2012 - 14:34

I haven't found that the unions have had any time to oppose things on ideological grounds for a long time. They seem to be too busy dealing with the most urgent causes for practical concern.

Maybe you're right that it is well conceived Ricky but I'm not convinced because your judgement has lacked insight in previous discussions.

I mean for heaven's sake you seemed to think that the Pheonix Schools was 'well conceived' even though the only way its leader intended to improve teaching at this secondary school was by introducing his wife's phonics scheme for the under 5s and the description of the curriculum on the website is comprises ludicrous statements like this:

"Most vocational qualifications are all but worthless. For instance, pupils can get a GNVQ in Hairdressing without ever cutting a single lock of hair—it’s considered “too dangerous” for pupils to pick up a pair of scissors. NVQs are rightly known as “no-value qualifications”, and they will almost certainly disappear in the Coalition’s reforms."
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
http://phoenixfreeschool.org.uk/about-the-school/curriculum/

It seems to me that you would think anyone opposing that school was doing so because they were left wing ideologues. Sigh.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 25/04/2012 - 14:56

Rebecca

First, as a matter of fact, I made no comment whatsoever about the Phoenix School being "well conceived", so you are wrong there (yet again). But I see that it is backed by Lord Guthrie, and I reckon his opinion is of greater value than yours.

your judgement has lacked insight in previous discussions.

And you come across as extremely ill-mannered. I'm not at all surprised you have been banned by TES. I looked at some of the threads there and noted that many posters asked you to stop posting on their threads because you were rude and disruptive.

I haven’t found that the unions have had any time to oppose things on ideological grounds for a long time.

Perhaps you are right..... they are so busy nowadays they simply oppose things out of a vague feeling of pique, or simply as a reflex response.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 25/04/2012 - 17:46

By endorsing it's founder you endorse the school Ricky.

"But I see that it is backed by Lord Guthrie"
I wonder what this 'backing' involves.

"you come across as extremely ill-mannered"
You don't seem to have much experience on forums if you think I'm rude.

"I’m not at all surprised you have been banned by TES. I looked at some of the threads there and noted that many posters asked you to stop posting on their threads because you were rude and disruptive."
What on earth have you been looking at!
I was banned after the final post on this thread Ricky - was my only recent post then:
http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/p/459129/6341529.aspx#6341529

"they are so busy nowadays they simply oppose things out of a vague feeling of pique, or simply as a reflex response."
I have tremendous respect for my union which is the ATL. I joined it along with most other members because I am pro-actively non-militant. I find the key people in authority to be highly intelligent and extremely well informed. Your description could not be further from the truth of the ATL. I can't account in detail for other unions.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 20:12

I'm wondering, perhaps, if the free school in your areas was not supported because it was one of these free schools which was to be lead by an imposed head without appropriate experience rather than by a properly qualified and suitably experienced person Ricky?

I know some people seem to think anyone can run a secondary school - that it's just an instinctive thing that a bright person can do but I absolutely disagree with that. I have profound respect for secondary heads and I think politicians are treating the skills they have in a deeply derogatory way by paying no account to the effort and time involved in acquiring them and the level of personal maturity, balance and good judgement required.

If this is the issue I would recommend you read some of the great biographies of secondary heads such as 'Ahead of the class' by Marie Stubbs and 'Sister Geneveive' by John Rae which go into sufficient detail to give anyone some real insight into both the personal qualities and the colossal range of established skills required by a secondary head and then ask yourself whether it is really credible that somebody without substantial teaching and senior team experience could do that job well.



I remind you that you said you'd been reading threads on TES where I was rude and disruptive and asked to stop posting on the opening poster's thread Ricky? Surely you don't think it's unreasonable for me to ask you to post the links to just some of the discussions you read?
I was weebecka - in case you'd confused me with somebody else:
http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/460595.aspx?PageIndex=1

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/04/2012 - 15:34

Claudia - do you mean there aren't enough secondary places for the number of pupils or do you mean that your area only has, say, one secondary school to choose from because that's large enough to accomodate all the secondary age pupils?

Sarah's picture
Wed, 25/04/2012 - 17:25

That may not be a particular problem if you have a dearth of young people! Surely what's important is to have a place within a reasonable travelling distance at a decent school for every child that needs one.

So what is the issue?

Too few school places
Too few good school places
Too little choice
Schools in the wrong place
Schools in the right place with but the wrong sort of intake

Many sparsely populated areas for example have virtually no choice and may have to travel some distance - but if the school provides a good education most parents would have no problem with that.

I'm interested to know what the real issue is?

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 07:39

sarah - you have hit the nail on the head. If the issue is a shortage of school places then the LA has a duty to ensure that there are sufficient places. However, LAs are now legally obliged to set up new schools as academies or free schools. This could cause difficulties in disadvantaged areas which aren't attractive to academy chains or free school proposers.

"Too few good school places". What this means in practice is places in schools judged good on the basis of exam results. But the Institute of Fiscal Studies found that a school's intake governs its academic achievement. The Education Endowment Fund found that many "under-performing" were doing a good job in difficult circumstances - yet these schools would still be damned as underperforming and not providing "good school places".

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/08/school-intake-governs-acad...

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/07/disadvantaged-pupils-do-wo...

"Too little choice" - as you say, in areas with a scattered population (ie anywhere outside cities) there are likely to be insufficient numbers of children to sustain a choice in schools. In any case, evidence about the link between user choice and educational outcomes is inconclusive (see FAQs above).

Tim Bidie's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 15:52

At least consider it possible that concerned parents will ferry their children to different schools.

Most of them have to anyway:

'Around one in seven children in England missed out on a place at their first preference secondary school this year, official figures show.

Statistics published by the Department for Education reveal that 14.7% of the nearly 504,000 11-year-olds who applied to start secondary school this September did not get into the schools their parents wanted.'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/mar/22/secondary-school-admissi...

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 16:33

Tim - the figures you quote show that six in seven children in England got their first preference secondary school. The Government's own figures show: "Outside London, nearly 88.5 per cent of parents were offered a place at their first preference school… For Greater London, this figure is 67.5 per cent.” The stats also revealed: "A further 7.8 per cent of families were offered a place at their second preference school and 95.9 per cent were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools. In total, 97.6 per cent of families were offered a place at one of their preferred schools.”

So, according to the Government's own data, 97.6% of children were offered a place in a school for which their parents had expressed a preference.

http://www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a00205588/wmsofferstats (these are the actual stats, not a newspaper's take on the figures).

Sorry to bang on about evidence, Tim, but where is the data which shows that most parents ferry their secondary school children to school?

Sarah's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 19:31

Parents do not 'have to' ferry their children around. If the local authority can't offer a place at a school within walking distance it pays for transport. As I've said elsewhere the current system manages to offer a first choice to the overwhelming majority of parents and many that get their second or lower choices had no realistic prospect of getting into their first preference anyway.

Tim Bidie's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 17:19

Depends where you live:

'In some parts of London, competition was particularly tough. Just 53.5% of 11-year-olds in Wandsworth, south London, got their first preference. In Hammersmith and Fulham, in west London, and Southwark, in central London, the figures were 54.4% and 55.9% respectively.'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/mar/22/secondary-school-admissi...

'We have become increasingly concerned with the number of cars used on the ’school run’. These journeys account for 20% of peak hour traffic and are often for less than a mile. Car travel for school journeys is the mode adopted by 29% of school children or their parents. This last figure has doubled in the last 20 years and the trend is growing.'

http://www.gosmarter.co.uk/media/download/22.pdf

Sarah's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 19:34

Many parents choose to send their children to schools other than those within travelling distance - and if they do that then of course they must meet the costs of transporting their child to school. In urban areas there is often plenty of public transport that children can use instead of travelling by car. In rural areas parents are often more pragmatic and accept the local school because the cost of transport would be too great and the transport network doesn't exist to support it. Funny that you don't hear many parents in such communities complaining about choice - they just get on and support their child at the local school.

Tim Bidie's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 19:03

Depends where you live:

‘In some parts of London, competition was particularly tough. Just 53.5% of 11-year-olds in Wandsworth, south London, got their first preference. In Hammersmith and Fulham, in west London, and Southwark, in central London, the figures were 54.4% and 55.9% respectively.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/mar/22/secondary-school-admissi...

‘We have become increasingly concerned with the number of cars used on the ’school run’. These journeys account for 20% of peak hour traffic and are often for less than a mile. Car travel for school journeys is the mode adopted by 29% of school children or their parents. This last figure has doubled in the last 20 years and the trend is growing.’

http://www.gosmarter.co.uk/media/download/22.pdf

Sarah's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 19:38

It's madness to have children competing for a school place - and you've hit the nail on the head Tim. Choice isn't parental choice - it's the school choosing the child. Increasingly with Academies and other own-admission authority schools it's the school that decides where it wants its children to come from and parents really only get the illusion of choice. There will always have to be a way of rationing scare resources since there is no realistic way of meeting the demand - schools don't have elastic walls and you can't simply draft in hundreds of extra teachers to allow a school to expand at will.

The 'market' needs to be managed - it's actually managed pretty well in most places although clearly London struggles a little at the moment. But London is not England and the system works pretty well in most other places.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 27/04/2012 - 08:04

Tim – I think your figures are out-of-date. Data published by the Department for Transport found: “full School Census dataset for 2009/10 shows a reduction of 2.3 percentage points in the proportion of children travelling to school by car (excluding car share) between 2006/07 and 2009/10.”

The DfT has published an evaluation (dated 2010) of the Travelling to School Initiative (TTSI) launched in 2003. The evaluation noted a small decrease in the number of cars on the school run and a rise in the number of cyclists and walkers.

http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/travelling-to-school-evaluation/

http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/travelling-to-school-evaluation/tr...

However, discussing home-to-school transport risks the thread going off-topic which began with a parent saying there was a “dearth” of secondary schools in the locality. It is still unclear whether Claudia was complaining about a shortage of actual places or about little choice (which would be expected in areas outside cities and large towns, which is why LSN campaigns for good, local schools.)

Tim Bidie's picture
Thu, 26/04/2012 - 19:56

Thus we need more schools.

We are not rationing scarce resources.

We are just about the wealthiest nation on earth, in the round.

The system works OK in purely administrative terms but the education provided is, frankly, patchy, at best decent and at worst shameful.

Our educational establishment, many of them, are locked in a 1950's 'make do and mend' mentality: 'do nothing and you can't be wrong.'

To meet forthcoming economic opportunities of localised, focused manufacturing and an increasingly demanding, quality orientated marketplace, our educational system has to offer more, much more than a tired, 'take it or leave it' statist culture.

The 2015 general election is only just around the corner.

Almost time to choose - 'management of decline' or 'enterprising renewal.'

Democracy! We have it, most don't!

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 27/04/2012 - 08:07

Tim - evidence, please, for your statements, "the education provided is, frankly, patchy, at best decent and at worst shameful" and that state education in England offers only a "tired, 'take it or leave it' statist culture."

Sarah's picture
Fri, 27/04/2012 - 11:46

'We are not rationing scarce resources' - central government certainly has the choice over how it prioritises our money and I would be all in favour of better funding for education. However, the reality is that funding for schools does not take account of the amount of surplus capacity any individual school is carrying. Having empty places increases the per pupil cost very significantly meaning that resources, which are fixed in terms of the allocation that local authorities get from central government, have to be stretched more thinly to take account of surplus places. This is reducing the funding available for direct teaching costs.

Unless government is prepared to allocate much more funding to schools to meet the costs of maintaining surplus in the system we all need to accept that it makes no financial sense to open new schools without a strong demographic case because the effect is to limit the funding available for each child. Maintaining, heating, insuring, cleaning multiple sites costs money that should be spent on teachers. If the government wants parents to have choice without detrimentally affecting children's education then it needs to fully meet the costs of that choice.

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