I have been meaning to blog for quite some time, but the time has been way to short.
For those who have been following the Louth campaign
, it has been a very interesting time. The proposed merger of the secondary schools in Louth has been scrapped. This caused a mixture of feelings within the group. Some people were quite pleased that our schools were remaining as separate and distinct organisations. Some of us were disappointed that at a time of falling rolls for schools in Lincolnshire, that the opportunity to increase the curriculum offer at 14 and 16 and protect staff jobs, has been lost.
So, in Louth we are 9 months on and still no academy within our seven schools. In many ways I feel that we have won the arguments. There is no one claiming now that academies have any relationship at all to teaching and learning. I was particularly delighted that one of the Louth schools voted to remain within the Local Authority as a first preference.
However, there are still areas causing real concern.
First, despite heads and governors knowing that there is no educational justification for going for academy status, the policy of the county council makes it difficult for heads to feel confident that the decision really does rest with the governors.
Additionally, we have CfBT within the LA not just as preferred sponsor, but also working with maintained schools in their role as School Improvement Service Providers.
This dual role of CfBT is a particularly corrosive influence. Examples of this are everywhere. I have heard this week of how the head of CfBT in Lincolnshire, (he is also a county council officer!) is "doing lunch" with chairs of governors in an apparently spontaneous show of sociability. He also wastes no time at all bringing the conversation round to where he wants it to rest.
More worryingly, I have my hands on a code of conduct for governors and I would love the opinions of people who know more than I do on the subject. The code has come from governor support at Lincolnshire County Council, who are run by....yes, you have it....by CfBT. The code insists on "total confidentiality" in all matters within governing body meetings and threatens the governors with disciplinary action if this is broken. I thought that as a publicly accountable body, the governors have to be as open as possible. Surely, especially when it comes to elected governors, we cannot have a position where they are neither allowed to discuss issues with their electorate or question poor decision making? I fear in Lincolnshire we have a position where CfBT as chosen sponsor are abusing their position as School Improvement Providers by exerting undue pressure on governors.
We have also generated a great deal of local coverage, particularly about the situation in Skegness, which is a mess and explained in the link here
. Of particular concern to SOS is the accusation that this particular trust is discriminating against children with SEN and behavioral issues, something I posted about least time.
Finally, we have produced our own county based web page, a link to which can be found here. If any teachers, heads, governors wish to sign the open letter please fill in the form, and I would ask as many residents in Lincolnshire as possible to fill in the survey.
We were also on Channel Four news last night. It was a very useful piece, but it is impossible to do the complexity of the situation justice in a short news article.
So nine months on we are still going strong. We have won an amazing amount of battles on the way, but the war still rages.