Very strange

Yesterday I received a thick envelope in the post. Upon opening it, I found it contained an invitation from the Co-operative Party to join them.

Looking up their website, I was attracted to their Broadband and mobile phone prices but noticed that our contract still goes till next year.

So I read that booklet, they included, which sounded good and knowing that my family in Germany always had a Co-operative in their village, which all the local farmers used for banking I was tempted to be impressed.

Then I read the membership procedure on their website. The Co-operative Party is strongly connected to Labour. Labour refused my membership application some years ago, just after I had a attended the local Jewish Synagoge for a multi-faith service and we are members of a swimming club in Stoke Newington.

Strangely enough, even now, here in Tower Hamlets, I cannot even become a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator for my local ward, when years ago I had been the Chair of the Neighbourhood Watch Assocation, working closely with local police in this borough.

How things change. Local law enforcement seems to be strongly affiliated with the local Labour Party.

Advertisements

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.

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.

 

 

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.

Sexist Tower Hamlets

Please can anybody who has the time to support a protest at the Tower Hamlets Council Town Hall next week on 17. July 2018 from 17:30 onwards. Many parents from the school will be attending an academic reward evening that the brilliant Raine’s Foundation hosts for hard-working pupils at Raine’s Foundation school on that day.  Please read the latest up-date on the protest in an East London Advertiser article.

So far the protests have brought the council to amend the consultation documents on 3. July due to the legal pressure that the Steering Group has brought.

Raines-summer-concert-2019

End of term summer concert, which the new headmaster Patrice Cavanan failed to attend.

Any plans to transfer pupils to Oaklands school are not very popular. Tonight’s school concert was not even attended by Patrice Cavanan, the Oaklands head teacher who is now in charge of Raine’s.

It does’t matter how many rainbow flags and rainbow pedestrian crossings Tower Hamlets has installed, when it comes to education, they give boys’ education preference by using a simple trick.

The agenda of the full council meeting on 17. July 2019 lists 3 petitions:

CCTV, Stepney Green school, Raine’s Foundation school.

By only counting the signatories on petitions for schools from residents actually living in Tower Hamlets, the council ignores almost half the Raine’s school signatories and gives the school less importance than Stepney Green because they received more Tower Hamlets based signatories simply because the parents who want to stay that school boys only reside in Tower Hamlets.

Local parents want to prevent Stepney Green school from becoming a mixed school and want it to stay boys only.

Of course this shows that there are a lot of parents in Tower Hamlets who prefer boys education alone and who do not want girls mixed up. A time-lapse into old-fashioned values perhaps? Malala has been shot for defending girl’s education.

Raine’s Foundation school, is Church of England affiliated and provides an excellent all-round education for children from all genders. The school runs an online petition. To date 2,859 have actually signed the petition but the council counts less than 2,000 signatures because they don’t live in Tower Hamlets.

Yet the catchment area for Raine’s isn’t exclusive to Tower Hamlets, pupils are coming from all the neighbouring boroughs but the council only counts signatories from Tower Hamlets itself.

That is highly discriminating. Hence the parents that want a school to stay a boys school get more time at the council to debate their issue than the parents who want their school for all to stay open.

 

 

Health first

action activity adult athletes

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The best part about being a human is being as healthy as possible. At least that is what we are striving for.

Here in Tower Hamlets, school children are thought to have 10% less lung capacity, compared to children in rural areas.

Tower Hamlets schools are normally encoached in busy traffic areas, with roads, right, left and centre.

For example Bishop Challoner School is unfortunately a good example of a school being in a totally traffic polluted area. The school is judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted because of exam results only. The school is siutated in Commercial Road.

For Ofsted good results are everything, they do not consider other health considerations when they judge a school, which I think is very sad indeed.

On the other hand, Raine’s Foundation school, is a secondary school situated near Victoria Park, an area classified as almost suburban, with leafy streets, access to Victoria Park for PE and much less traffic, as roads around the building are one lane only.

Raine’s Foundation school is classified as ‘in need of improvement’ by Ofsted and because of this, parents won’t apply to send their kids there.

Parents as well as Ofsted only care about exam results.

Tower Hamlets Council  now wants to close Raine’s Foundation school because of the poor exam results, poor in comparison to national results.

Why does nobody care about the children’s health? Isn’t it better to run a school in a healthy area because the kids will be better off throughout their life, if their lungs breathe healthy air?

I personally want to fight to keep the school open just to give children the chance to attend a healthy school. Because sacrificing health in exchange for good exam results will have long-lasting effects on the children’s health.

Access to green spaces, a nice playground, a nearby park will have a great effect not only on children’s mental health but also the physical health.

I want everybody to write to their MP to ask for support to change the classification criteria for schools in respect of a healthy environment.

Having lives before politics

I am astounded to read that

  • Michael Gove took Cocaine
  • Rory Stewart smoked Opium
  • Jeremy Hunt had a Cannabis Lassi
  • Boris Johnson snorted cocaine and smoked drugs as teenager

Although these events are kind of ancient, e.g. they have been described by

Mr Gove who told the Mail: “I think all politicians have lives before politics. Certainly when I was working as a journalist I didn’t imagine I would go into politics or public service.”

I think that is the source of the problem of our increased drug culture in Britain, that taking them is seen as having a life.

On the front line, living in Tower Hamlets, a borough that has a high drug dealing problem, we find that it’s the social users, the ones that have jobs and earn enough money to consume drugs, have a substantive responsibility towards the drug dealing problem. If they wouldn’t buy the drugs, the dealers would have less reason to sell.

I can only hope that people are starting to realise that it would be better for all of us not to take any class A, B, or C drugs whether in politics or not.

Tower Hamlets Council is currently  conducting a substance misuse strategy survey on how to best combat drug use and how to educate people about it. They suggest that care leavers and high risk groups like pupils who have been excluded from schools should be educated about the dangers. Yet, the council seems to forget that it is those established high earners and middle class university graduates that also need educating.

Drugs are very common these days and it is definitely not easy to say no.

Yet if a pupil in a school these days would be caught out in any way with drugs whatsoever, they would be expelled and had little chance to ever enter a high-profile political post.  It doesn’t help to play down the drug taking of major politicians and put it down to life before politics.

What should happen is that children who nowadays get themselves in trouble whilst in school should not be expelled but helped instead so that they have a future equally as those politicians who now admit their failures once they had a career.

It is more than cynical that Michael Gove feels fit to admit his drug taking when he used to be Minister for Education who fell through the net.

Perhaps also our alcohol drinking culture should be called into question as this also has severe health implications both on our minds and on our bodies.

But the moral of the story is though that nobody is perfect after all.

 

Tower Hamlets Council refuses to give residents appointments for gas checks

The council just sends inspectors round to people’s addresses without appointment. That is in breach of established safety procedure.

Bogus callers are an all too common problem in Tower Hamlets. The Bogus Gas inspector has robbed many pensioners of their live savings. To help protect residents from bogus callers a best practise became established, which had the following routine.

Council sends appointment to resident advising them of a contractor coming to carry out some work. Resident could agree on a password for the contractor to use.

Contractor had to show the resident their ID card and allow resident to call the council to make sure they are genuine.

But now the council has refused to even make appointments and just sends contractors to people’s houses and if they are not in, they do not leave a calling card. In fact it is not possible at all any longer to even know when a contractor called.

The council now takes people straight to the Magistrates Court to obtain a court order to enter a premises on the excuse that they have been refused entry to carry out gas checks.

I just wonder why they now terrorise people in that manner.

Especially as this does not ensure that the gas check is actually carried out within the statutory 12 months of the previous one. To ensure that gas checks are carried out the landlord or council must send out appointments so that residents can arrange a more suitable time to carry out this gas check if the proposed appointment is unsuitable.

In fact I just had such a letter advising me that there is going to be a court hearing in July to obtain a court order to break into my flat to carry out a gas check, when I wrote to them asking for an appointment so that I can have my gas check but they just do not want to give me this appointment for a gas check.

I have been a resident here for over 35 years and each year I have had my gas check without problems, now the council does not want to give people appointments any more but just seeks orders to enter by force.

The problem with Neighbourhood Watch in Tower Hamlets

When you go to the Metropolitan Police Website and turn onto the Tower Hamlets Pages, you see a tab that is called getting involve.Within that is my picture not only once but twice and it says that I encourage people to build Neighbourhood Watches in Tower Hamlets.

I do accept full responsibility for that but now have had to resign that post of chair person of the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association, in a situation that I would call constructive dismissal.

There are many factors that led to my resignation. One is the new housing legislation that doesn’t allow tenants to occupy a flat with a spare room. The legal frame work of neighbourhood watch requests that a chief local coordinator makes their own address available for contact points. Here in Tower Hamlets the Police expected me then to administer all Neighbourhood Watch records but no office room was made available for that purpose. I am not allowed to have a spare room in my home as I am a tenant. That automatically discriminates against social housing tenants becoming Neighbourhood Watch coordinators, which is something that I wholly despise.

When I look at boroughs like Wandsworth where Neighbourhood Watch displays the best model of how it’s done, I thought I could establish a similar model in Tower Hamlets. Yet in Wandsworth the council heavily supports Neighbourhood Watch also in the aministrative functions, they create and distribute promotional material including stickers, leaflets, watch signs etc.

Here in Tower Hamlets the council refuses to do any such tasks, I had been asked to collect all window stickers from the town hall and keep them in my bedroom. I had ordered 50 Neighbourhood Watch signs, which I could not store in my flat any more either. Yet when I called the Town Hall to enquire how to get permission to put up the signs, nobody could help, I was given a telephone extension that was never answered.

All the council does in Tower Hamlets is provide a couple of Internet pages that explain about Neighbourhood Watch and has links to associated websites. Yet as explained in my previous post, other councils actively support Neighbourhood Watch schemes and also administer them but not in Tower Hamlets. No Neighbourhood Watch Association can exist alone. There are so many problems that require data sharing and if its only the knowledge which housing landlord is responsible for which estate, basic things like that.

Whilst I was given the opportunity to be the chair of the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association lately there was  not one other watcher who would actually become a member of the board and act as Secretary, Vice-chair, treasurer. I ended up doing all those jobs.

Furthermore in Wandsworth all watch coordinators have to undergo a Criminal Bureau Records check whilst here in Tower Hamlets there is nothing of that sort even in place. Not even the police check up on watch coordinators unless they are the top people like myself. I have been checked many times over in recent years and there is no black spot in my life but I am not certain abut other coordinators in the borough. I personally had extended CRB checks done because I volunteer in schools.

On the Ourwatch website, anyone can register, draw around an area and call themselves a watch, with the benefit of getting tailored crime reports for the area they are registered with on the site and they can also make use of the excellent communication system that the site brings with it but that doesn’t mean that anybody seen on the site as a watch is actually a properly registered watch. Now the legal system has changed and only approved persons can use the Neighbourhood Watch logo and produce material using the wording and the picture logos as they can be downloaded from the Ourwatch website.

But there is still no requirement that any person wanting to be in neighbourhood watch must have a criminal record check, any watch coordinator can have a criminal record or even be a registered sex offender. Though I must admit that it is unlikely that criminals would want to be watch coordinators but not impossible.

Without the pro-active support of the council and little checking of individual coordinators in Tower Hamlets I see little chance of this getting to be a good system. I have even resigned from my local SNT panel because I do not like to be discussing problems with ever changing PCSO officers and cannot see how the current system reduces crime in the long run. The statistics show that Tower Hamlets has twice as much crime as the City of London on a permanent basis. Sorry to Commander Rickett who says crime could not get any lower in the borough, I disagree.

Please see also my previous post to explain in length how my perceive the problem with policing in the area.

I think that Neighbourhood Watch is an excellent system in boroughs like Wandsworth or Bexley where there is at least good and active council support in both boroughs, though Bexley does not carry out a CRB check on coordinators but for Tower Hamlets where there is no proper infrastructure, I feel a lot of work has to be done. Now at least some money has been allocated to us and we can hope againl. I think that Neighbourhood Watch is a viable in most areas and especially in areas where there is a good infrastructure supporting it from the council as well as the police.

I found myself loading a pram full of boxes and bags and carting the lot to my local police station and giving it all to them because I needed some storage space for materials. I still have my endorsement for Neighbourhood Watch in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on the Met Police website.

PS: in up-date to this post, I continue to do the daily work and hope to engage more with both council and local residents to build up a better and stronger watch network. It’s a matter of more engagement and getting to know local watches and encouraging others to ask the council to hold a bigger stake in Neighbourhood Watch. Also policing will change in the autumn, I hope for the better, at the next Association meeting we will get more details,all wait for 19 June.

Previous Older Entries

Blog Stats

  • 52,819 hits