BACK TO SCHOOL SPECIAL….er, what school?
Incredibly, the report of the Lead Member for Children’s Services to a meeting (which was not open to the public) states that the “projected effect” of the proposals in the first five years would lead to “potential overcrowd” in Weaste, Seedley, Langworthy and Ordsall. Well it would do if you shut five schools in the area and replace them with two new ones. Derrr…
The proposals for closures, mergers and new build schools are based, we are told, on the need to reduce surplus places in our primaries…except that the closure of North Grecian St and Charlestown is nothing to do with surplus places, as the Schools Adjudicator noted “the main driver for these proposals is not to do with responding to falling rolls but rather to make broader improvements to the quality of primary school provision in the area.” And how are they going to do this? Well, the Adjudicator writes that on the Council’s own projected figures, in the wider area there would be a “possible shortfall by 2013”. So they are going to improve primary education by creating a lack of school places…What a great idea! Are they all bonkers or what?
I suspect the Council number crunchers have been a little too zealous with their axes. The Lead Member’s report states that the figures ignore the possible impact of new housing developments (what, are the 20 zillion new yuppie flats and houses all going to be stacked with gays and sad singles?) and dismiss the projected rise in the city’s birth rate. The Council should try reading its own Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2008-13, which states in no uncertain terms “the high frequency of women of childbearing age may necessitate a specific prospective planning exercise to determine capacity requirements, for example, in education”.
The result of all the closures would leave the city’s kids hardly any room to manoeuvre with a mere 4% surplus places across the city, which, according to the report, is “lower than we should be aiming for”. Like, 50% lower. But, never mind because it will save the Council loads of money, or as the report puts it… "Nevertheless, the ability to generate additional local revenue by generating greater efficiencies through a well managed reduction in surplus places is a real possibility and a goal which we must strive for”.
Unsurprisingly, private consultants from Capita Symonds (pre-tax profits to end June this year £120million) and Capita Children’s Services were involved in all this. And, even more unsurprisingly, the Council didn’t want anyone to know right now. The report states that the closures that have already been announced are “unlikely to stir up any more controversy…However, further thought needs to be given as to how and when to begin discussions with schools earmarked for investment or closure, later in the programme.”
The sad thing is that all this is being done in the name of “lifting the poorest families out of poverty” and “ensuring that the most vulnerable individuals and groups are catered for”. Now call me old fashioned but won’t smaller class sizes help with all this? Rather than sticking a million kids in one class in a nice shiny new building? We’ve seen it all go wrong with Salford’s secondary `Bulldozing Schools for the Future’ programme, now get ready for part two…
Those Potty Primary Proposals In Full…
• close St Joseph’s RC Little Hulton, Our Lady and the Lancashire Martyrs RC and St Edmund’s RC Primary schools and replace with one school on the St Edmund’s site (that’ll be the one that is too small to fit everyone in).
• close Seedley, Langworthy and Tootal Drive Community primary schools and replace with one new school on the Glendinning Street site.
• close North Grecian Street and Charlestown Community schools and replace with one new school on the Wheatersfield site.
• close St James’ RC and All Soul’s RC primary schools and replace with one new school on the Langworthy Road site
Over the next five years
• close Christchurch and Lewis Street Primary Schools and
replace with one new school
• close Peel Hall and Hilton Lane Primary Schools and replace with one new school
• close St Sebastian’s RC and merge with St Boniface RC
After year six
• `rationalise’ Godfrey Ermen and St Andrews
• merge North Walkden and St Paul’s CE Heathside
• merge Fiddlers Lane and Moorfield
• close St Joseph’s