State schools under threat from legislation

“We need a better definition for school”, said Amanda Spielman.

Having watched this morning’s Victoria Derbyshire program it came to light that a school, which was warned by Ofsted twice, and asked to close, cannot be closed by force because legislation is not in place to do so because the school is not officially a school.

Ofsted’s leader, Amanda Spielman said that a school had been warned against operating but that pupils cannot be stopped from attending.

Transcript of Victoria Derbyshire program: (This is not a full transcript, there are gaps)

Ambassador’s High School in South London, a private school, was found to be operating illegally because it wasn’t registered with the government was only the second school to ever be prosecuted. Nadia Ali from South London who runs it was also to be found by Ofsted to be wilfully neglecting the children. Despite the prosecution, neither Ofsted, the local authority nor the court had the power to close it down.

Ofsted estimates that currently as much as 6.000 children are currently being educated in illegal, unregistered schools.

The prosecution was last month but Nadia Ali refuses to close the school. She was sentenced to Community Service last month but the court could not order the school to close, neither could Ofsted or the local authority.

The school caters for 4 – 14 year olds has twice applied to be government registered and twice it has been rejected by Ofsted for not meeting the Independent Schools standards.

In February this year Ofsted found there was no plan in place to actively promote British values. 6 out of 11 teachers had not been DBS or criminal record checked. There was no capacity for improvement at the school.

Last year inspectors found books that encouraged parents to hit their children, if they don’t pray; they also found books that said that a wife does not have the right to deny her husband. (Apparently children did not have access to the books).

End of transcript.

Victoria Derbyshire program provided evidence that this school in fact operates for 21 hours per week, to the amazement of the head teacher, who pretended not to know, rules make is statutory that educational establishments cannot operate for more than 18 hours without having to apply for school status.

Fact is that if people can open pop-up schools and defy Ofsted orders to stop operating and keep on teaching children anyhow, how can state schools, which depend on per-pupil funding exist?

State schools rely on permanent pupil attendance, a steady flow of pupils and long-tertm planning but pop-up schools can operate at hoc, charge parents money for sending kids and that makes the necessity for state schools unimportant.

It makes the running of state schools a high-risk endeavour if pop-up schools can emerge whenever and wherever they want because they drain the supply of pupils to state schools.

Schools like Raine’s Foundation, a Church of England school, which complies fully with all legal requirements, has a brand new building, are having to close because they cannot attract enough pupils. Raine’s are located in Tower Hamlets, an area with a high number of Muslim residents.

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Labour’s Ofsted plans

So when I read this, I was doubting that the Labour plans to demolish Ofsted would be a good idea. With all those new schools springing up, if there is no inspections or regulatoins we go into doomsday scenarios with all types of radicals or weirdos starting schools with little prospect of regulating them.

Our local C.o.E. school has plans to close it because it’s low pupil numbers cannot sustain the school and provide quality education under the per pupil funding scheme, yet a private school with only 45 children on the roll, charging 2,500 per year can be run on an 18 hour per week basis?

Somehow this doesn’t stack up for me. How can a school with only 45 pupils be allowed to operate on a private basis but a state school with 28 pupils in year 7 and hundreds of other pupils including 6. Form cannot operate, due to financial constraints?

I think instead of getting rid of Ofsted, Labour should get rid of all those unsuitable small private schools operating. But then, here in Tower Hamlets that would cause havoc for them.

So why did the current government change school regulations to enable all those free schools in the country?

 

 

Schools beware

raines school

Raine’s Foundation, C.o.E. Secondary in Bethnal Green

Yesterday’s ruling on the Raine’s Foundation case against London Borough of Tower Hamlets was wedged firmly in favour of the council. Of course the case was brought by a pupil and their legal team.

Unforunately I thought the arguments were really weak on the side of the claimant, making it very easy for the defendant to win outright. I had no input whatsoever into the legal case.

This case however sets a very dangerous presedence for schools. It means that if your pupil roll falls in two successive years, your Education Authority can apply to set pupil intake to zero the following year and announce a planned closure prior to any consultation having taken place.

This case centered solely around the duty to consult prior to inducing closure proceedings and in this case the judge found that councils cane induce closure proceedings prior to consulting.

Yet, Governing bodies do have a duty to constantly watch the financial health of a school, which solely relies on pupil numbers to get sufficient funding to run it.

Who runs governing bodies, it’s the local councils. Councils put Local Education Authority Governors onto school governing bodies and the minutes of those governor meetings are run via the Local Authorities Governance Services.

So whose responsiblity is it if schools run dangerously into financial trouble due to a lack of ready action plan when pupil numbers fall in successive years?

Slacking on monitoring will mean that councils simply close down schools that suffer a lack of attendance, may that be due to changing demographics or other factors. That can have a very adverse effect on the local community.

Unfortunately it has become a trend to just shove people around. Councils move them out of the borough to allow local housing to be occupied by rich investors who chose to let the flats/houses to the wealthy with fewer children, which diminishes a demand for local authority school places.

Schools get closed or amalgamated if rolls fall with little punishment for the local education authority who failed to induce their LEA governors to avoid a sudden change.

The council argued that it is easier to set pupil numbers to zero and not allow any pupils into a school rather than allow them onto the roll to disperse them onto other schools later. That means, education authorities will have a means to deny childen education at a school of their choice.

In fact the number of schools can be diminished sharply over a period of 2 years the most.

Against brothels

What I really hate is legalised prostitution. Having to sell your body is just about the one thing that people must not be forced to do. My biggest fear of Germany is that prostitution is legalised in that country and that is why I would never have had children in that country I suppose.

You just imagine, you send your kid to school and then, once they finished education, they get a letter from the Department of Employment telling them to go for an interview in a brothel and if they do not attend, they loose their entitlement to unemployment benefit.

How horrible is that!!!

Because if sex work is a legalised activity, then children will be groomed into the profession from a very young age, as it is already happening in India, where girls as young as 7 get prepared into sex work. Further up in Asia they sell girls from the age of 7 into marriage, a similar slave trait.

Personal freedom must be that the one bastion that is us, must be our body. Just as our home is our castle, so our bodies have to be our first priority to choose what we want to do with it or not.

We have some very good personal protection laws in Britain and we have to be careful not to overstep the mark and loose the right to protect our bodies from harm.

So being against Brexit doesn’t mean that I would want to accept German employment laws, I am only in it for the close proximity of land mass.

I have not heard much about that point in for or against Brexit discussions.

 

 

saving the state money

Some believe that unadulterated privilege is OK if it saves the state money. Donald Trump saves the state money in that he doesn’t draw a salary, but should it not be made a rule that nobody could work without getting paid unless it is a voluntary position?
Nobody in an executive position should have a voluntary status; then use this status to make policies that discriminate against some parts of the population.
Since I am so surprised that the Labour Party wants to abolish private education, I am gob-smacked as well as speechless. I can support that plan. I think that people who pay into private schools simply share the resources they create only with other privileged people who can afford to pay equally as much.
Those resources are systematically withheld from poorer pupils and that therefore constitutes discrimination.

Poor students need to take out expensive student loans, for which they are charged interest whilst private schools can act as if they are charitable and avoid paying VAT.  Pupils attending private schools are privileged and have a higher chance of being admitted to the top set of social climbers.

Something is not quite right here.
The argument is right that people who go to Eaton or other private schools are not really much more clever than poorer people but they are privileged and get simply pulled through the ranks without much competition and  learn to appear confident in what they do. Children grow up more confident if they have all the gadgets around them and can boast that their parents have the bigger house, better boat and luxury cars at home.

There is talk of free personal care for over 65. That is just as well as the pension age has been rising well above that age.
The argument that all people can work till they are over the age of 70 doesn’t work in any event, there are some who are fitter and some who are not.
But reducing working hours generally down to 32 hours per week would probably indicate that through less consumerism we need to produce less and therefore will have an abundance of labour.

It will definitely become cheaper in the long run to

  1. house the homeless
  2. care for the needy
  3. reduce working hours
  4. abolish zero hours working contracts
  5. provide cheap long-term housing
  6. educate all pupils to the same high standards.

Yet I am surprised by Labour’s stance making out they are so concerned about the environment because so far it has been the Union’s policy to fight for any job regardless how environmentally damaging the product or production method was.

I’ll watch the progress of the situation.

Re-inspection of top-rated schools

Best news I read today on the BBC news website.

I campaigned long and hard for this to happen, because of personal experiences with top-rated schools.

It seems that any school that is able to hold the discipline together – often with threats to pupils (even if it is only underlying ones) – can then exploit the situation and hide severe problems under the mantle of ‘we are untouchably good’.

I am extremely happy that Ofsted is now going to close this loophole and starts to re-inspect top-rated schools who can apply for a world-class school status.

What should really happen is that schools’ incident log book, accidents and mental health problems should be closely examined.

I have also heard that some schools actually can threaten pupils with expulsion into the horrible excluded system but then reverse the decision to then keep the pupil if the parents pay enough hush money. Schools can exploit the expulsion system to get parents to cough up extra money or make pupils lives extra harsh by enforcing rules on some harsher than on others. And using the expulsion notice system to send the same note for the same offence twice, making it look that a pupil broke the rules twice, whilst they actually only broke it once.

The classic scenario of corruption in the education system is looming upon us and at least Ofsted is making an effort to stop it.

Well done.

Also thanks to Chancellor  Sajid Javid who pledged £400 million further education funding. And also thanks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson who pledges multi-billion investment in all schools. But I have heard on the Andrew Marr show that the per pupil increase is directed into Conservative areas or areas the Conservatives want to win. That is something I do not totally approve of.

As Steven Pinker, in his book ‘Enlightenment now’ explains, knowledge is the one most important driving factor that helps humanity progress.

Educational knowledge has to be measured around the whole population. Regions like Afghanistan have the worst education and most repression in the world. Sierra Leone has the least schooling hours in the world. (till 2015)

No country can afford to give preference in education spending to a select few. That principle was established by the Catholic church who believed that only approved religious elite should have the right of education.

If Boris Johnson now thinks he can select Conservative Council areas and areas leaning towards voting Conservative in the next elections to butter them up with his Billions of extra per pupils spending then I will oppose this.

The money has to be spend regardless of voting patterns, knowledge has to spread across the board.

Education has to be free of repression and political or financial corruption to free young minds to florish in academic learning free of fear from opression.

Saving Raines

rainespen

This armband and pen is given to pupils collcting their results.

After their Judgement of Solomon, Tower Hamlets Council made an amazing climb-down and withdrew their application to stop the admissions to zero for the school-year 2019/20, e.g. the year 7 intake. Also year 10s can now continue their education at Raine’s.

Parents were literally sent from pillar to post with letters sent that all pupils with year 7 places in 2019 need to change schools, which promply many did. Now, suddenly the council amended their policy and pupils can now attend year 7 of Raine’s. There are 150 places available, as permitted by the Office of the School Adjudicator.

That should infuriate the many who made plans, changed them, and are asked to change them again. Whilst the Council offered parents who changed schools a grant of £115 for a new school uniform, they should now also offer all parents who already bought uniforms for other schools and now need to switch back to Raine’s uniforms extra money to do so.

The Council pubished yesterday on 15. August 2019 at 10:36 a.m. Report on the outcome of the public consultation on the closure of Raine’s school and the expansion of Oaklands. A decision will be published on 25. September 2019, after which a further consultiation period will be made available till the end of this year.

Interestingly the withdrawal of the council’s application to stop further pupil admissions has not been mentioned in this report.

Parents were effectively scared to leave Raine’s and move pupils to Oaklands by Pupil Services at the Town Hall. This had been done illegally prior to any consultation taking place. This did a considerable amount of damage to Raine’s because year 6 pupils, wanting to transfer to Raine’s were told they could not do so, even when they had places allocated.

Of course it will considerably raise the costs of the school when the school doesn’t know within the normal period of time how many pupils, if any at all, they will have to educate during the following year.

revision-books

A pile of revision books given at the start of the holidays, what holidays?

However from the perspective of a Raine’s parent, the situation with the school looks very good. The Raine’s Foundation School website has had a major overhaul and we are now even able to use an App to keep abreast of developments.

We are adamant that Raine’s is an excellent school with brilliant teachers and provides a great basis for pupils to achieve best results. My daughter is already revising for next year’s GCSE’s.

See what Mickey Ambrose has to say about it.

 

 

Good luck Greta

I feel much more relaxed about Greta Thunberg’s trip to the US, since I’ve heard on a news story that actually one of her parents will be on the boat. It is a 60 x 12 foot boat without a toilet and amenities we are just used to.

It can’t do any harm to keep the discussion about climate change warm by constantly reporting about that trip of Greta.

What also interests me is how much Greta may miss her luxury home comforts during the journey for the sake of fighting climate change.

Lets hope all goes well.

I also hope that it will be easy to follow the media reports.

More telling off for Tower Hamlets

Now the Ombudsman has upheld a claim against Tower Hamlets Council for obstructing investigations. See report from ELA here.

What is the point in Tower Hamlets having a Mayor when nothing good comes of it. First there was the scandal around Lutfur Rahman, allegations of election fraud, led to his downfall and then the government sent in observers to shadow the council administration.

But whilst the investigators left satisfied that things are in order the Ombudsman finds otherwise. And of course the legal action against the council in respect of the illegal activities trying to close down schools make me question how effective any Mayor in Tower Hamlets may be.

There are obviously huge muddles going on, which even the Mayor cannot resolve.

I have never negatively spoken about Tower Hamlets and especially not John Biggs, with whom I sat on the Police and Community Safety Board for years until John Biggs decided to close down a 300 year old school, which is attended by my daughter. We love Raine’s Foundation school #300moreyears.

 

 

 

 

Government investigates Tower Hamlets again

Apparently people like Sylvia Pankhurst and Danny Boyle are among a high-profile string of supporters of the Raine’s Foundation Trust and Steering Group and the many grateful parents and pupils who happily attend the school.

This new investigation is mainly concentrating around the illegal attempt by Tower Hamlets council, trying to close Raine’s Foundation, Church of England Secondary school and Sixth Form prior to a consultation.

Tower Hamlets Council made an application to the Government Schools Adjudicators in May for a zero published admission number (PAN), cutting the future pipeline of the school. A final decision on this application was due for February 2020. Yet the council already and illegally informed all new year 7 pupils, who had been given confirmed places for the year 2019/20 at Raine’s, that they had to leave Raine’s and be placed in other schools, mainly Oaklands.

Whilst the council told parents at meetings that there were only 29 viable applications for a year 7 place at Raine’s, for 2019/20, further evidence suggests that there were actually 70 – 100 pupils applying for places.

Incidentally all year 9s were also told by the council they could not progress to year 10 within the Raine’s Foundation school and should continue their education at Oaklands school.

Raines Foundation Interim Executive Board (IEB)

Whilst the previous board of governors were dismissed, acussed of being unable to run the school, an Interim Executive Board was put into place.

The school advertised a position of parent governor but we were told at the last meeting with the borough that no suitable person could be found to fill the post. I had applied for it. As a former LEA school governor, I should be more than qualified. But I suppose they didn’t want anybody on the board who would want to put a spanner in the works of their devious plans.

In the interests of ‘transparency and openness’it might be interesting to see what the Interim Executive Board (IEB) of Raines Foundation secondary school have been getting up to and you can download all ten documents here.

Raine’s Foundation hired Irwin Mitchell Solicitors who went to the High Court and obtained a judgement including directions to Tower Hamlets Council that they have to write to all parents and pupils who were originally told that they cannot continue their education at Raine’s that they now can continue their education there.

Yet, the council, to date, has not followed that order of the judge.

There are now new applications in preparation to again go to the court for further orders by the solicitors Irwin Mitchell.

It seems very strange that the council tries every trick in the book to dismantle the only traditional school with a 300 year history in the borough.

Please also see a good article from  Wapping Mole though I would not want to go so far as to call for a return of Lutfur Rahman.

It is just really sad that our current Labour council under John Biggs, makes such dreadful decisions. John Biggs. It was a seriously political and administrative mistake to illegale incite the closure of a traditional Church of England school in Tower Hamlets. It will cost the Labour Party a lot of votes.

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