Letter to Gove,Gibb and Teathers...hope springs eternal!!!

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Dear Mr Gove,

I am writing to you in your capacity as Secretary of State for Education not as an MP . I therefore assert , with respect, that the procedural " I'm not your MP " reply or email deletion is not appropriate.

The Department of Education has just published their new Admissions Policy. This includes the proposal that the children of teaching staff will have priority for admission to their parent/carers school even if out of catchment.

I feel this to be , not only unfair to other families who satisfy the catchment criteria, ( families that will also include teachers who do not teach at the local school ) but also will be disastrous for your aim of retaining high quality staff in challenging schools ( currently under review by the Commons Select Committee on Education) .

Firstly may we agree that no teacher working in a challenging school is going to place their child in the same school if the child already qualifies for a legitimate place at a good/outstanding school closer to home i.e any argument that the flow of staff will be two-way between different standards of school would be false.

The main results of this policy are inevitably going to be that:

a) Outstanding schools , many of which are now academies, now have an unfair recruitment advantage being able to offering educational inducements rather than financial ( similar to private schools offering staff discounts on fees). Convertor Academies will be able to “head-hunt” staff without having to offer higher or even match previous salaries if places at their schools are highly coveted.

NOTE: This surely contravenes your Department’s edict that no Academy should have any financial advantage over a maintained school.

b) There will be a positive inducement for quality staff to transfer from challenging schools to outstanding schools simply to secure a place for their child even if at a lower salary ; staff who might otherwise not consider relocating schools but do so for their child's sake ( and indeed who could blame them- the point is that the incentive should not be there in the first place) .

c) This is not conducive to a positive school/parent relationship. In fact it is blatantly unfair . While the Department believes “ things should be made easier for teachers” it forgets there are millions of non-teacher workers who have to arrange long hours of before and after school care for their own children ( and with a typical 47 working weeks/ year for a lot longer than teachers have to ).

I understand the concept that teachers need a bit of pampering but this policy is, to be frank, at best naive and ill conceived and at worst mobilising educational recruitment along the lines of the private education sector. In theory you are opening the possiblilty of further favouring public sector workers in other departments e.g allowing the families of nurses to jump waiting lists , council staff to pay reduced council tax etc etc.

In short I cannot see that there is any justification for this policy and I would request that you consider its detrimental effect on retaining quality staff in challenging schools not to mention the unfairness to the public in more detail.
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Rosie Fergusson's picture
Wed, 16/11/2011 - 21:39

The NUT and members of the Select Committee advised against this measure so why is it retained ...because it was only abolished in 2005 ( I think) and is desperately needed to get Free Schools up and running and fully staffed without providing overly competitive salaries.

Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 17/11/2011 - 09:03

The new Code of Practice will also allow schools to prioritise the siblings of children who have already left the school. If taken up by schools this will also reduce the chances of local families with an only child, or first school age child, of getting into a school of their choice - particularly unfair in parts of the country where there is a shortage of primary places at the moment.

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