Prendergast withdraws Academy bid

Meredith Eddy, one of the people campaigning to prevent local schools from becoming Academies, provides an update following the protests triggered by Prendergast governors' decision to apply for Academy status. She writes:

"The Chair of Governors has withdrawn the application for Prendergast Hilly Fields because of a legal challenge to the process. The whole project has not been helped by the fact that the normal process is complicated by the different types of school involved."

Schools Week reports:

"The Government has been forced to stop the academy conversion of a school after opposition from a single staff member. It will now rewrite government regulations to close the loophole that halted the process.

"In March, The Department for Education (DfE) issued academy orders for three schools in Lewisham, following applications by the Leathersellers’ Federation which runs the schools. But Schools Week can exclusively reveal that the order for one of the schools – Prendergast School – has been rescinded after a parent challenged its legality.

"Regulations for federation schools applying to be academies state that a staff governor must vote in favour of conversion before it can go ahead."

Meredith comments:

"I think successive goverments have made things far too complicated and central government has failed to demonstrate any discernible benefits to switching - especially since Prendergast Hilly Fields has been consistently a top performing school.

"Further, while the Governors and the Executive Head have spent much time and resource on this project, they have done little to promote sharing across the Federation in other areas - that could benefit all the children - e.g. Music and Drama - where the expertise of one school (Music at Hilly Fields) could share in the facilities of another (a purpose built theatre at Ladywell)."

38 comments:

Anon said...

Is the name of the staff member/governor known?

Chris Wheal said...

The governors have consistently denied secrecy and claimed to be open and honest yet they still refuse to release information despite Freedom of Information requests. I don't think they can be trusted.
http://www.chriswheal.com/not-being-secret/

Chris Wheal said...

Yes. The full governing board is listed on the Leathersellers Federation website http://www.leathersellers-federation.com/195/governing-board

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

This is major. Well done SAIL. Inspirational. Once again the people of Lewisham have shown what a tremendous borough this is. Another unnecessary change to a public service, in this case education at Prendergast, last time health, Lewisham Hospital fought off by Lewisham people and won.

Current battle is to save Lewisham Southwark College from 25% cuts which will weaken it.

Read more here: http://www.southeastcentral.co.uk/threads/save-lewisham-southwark-college.8025/

terrencetrentderby said...

Your a busy boy ain't you? Don't be tempted to meet them, you'll end up like Terry Waite chained to a radiator for years, but unlike Terry Waite and his highly conservative religious captors, you'll be naked.

Anon said...

Would the Staff Governor be the same person who took strike action in 2011 and quoted by East London Lines....

Caroline Kelly, who teaches English and Philosophy at Prendergast Sixth Form in Brockley said: “Normally I do not think striking is the right course of action, but this is something that will affect the quality of education.This is serious enough to affect intake for teaching positions.”

Alice Cawley, 17,who is studying her A-Levels at the same school as Ms.Kelly believes the strikes are necessary. She said: “The government is making too many changes too quickly, so I think it’s good for them to strike. It’s good that people have the freedom to stand up against what they think is wrong, because in some countries they can’t.”

And at a Governors meeting in 2013 warned...."that all the teaching unions were united in their opposition to the (pay) reforms and it would result in strike action."

Anon said...

Links to East London Lines and Governors Meeting....
http://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2011/07/41624/

http://upload.reactcdn.co.uk/leathersellers/uploads/asset_file/Minutes_-_Governing_Body_Meeting_260313.pdf

Anon said...

You'd rather trust the views of a Mayor who ruled over a decline in education standards in Lewisham, or the advice of Frankie Sulkie to the governors they'd be better off not going for Academy status?

Schools that when managed by Lewisham Education Authority but controlled by the NUT failed to deliver at Spurles Road & Malory, but always blamed others rather than their political principals ruining the education of thousands of Lewisham children over the years.

I don't think the people who provided crap secondary education in Lewisham are the best people to provide advice on education.

http://upload.reactcdn.co.uk/leathersellers/uploads/asset_file/3_0_final-report-of-the-working-party-on-status-and-governance.pdf

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

As far as we have seen from this, staff, students and parents are united, they don't want the school(s), to change become an academy. We've heard that they would like a ballot on the decision. If the governors forge ahead, with no ballot, then they are doing it without the consent of the people most affected by their decision and that doesn't sound like a recipe for success.

Anon said...

"Once again the people of Lewisham have shown what a tremendous borough this is."

From the report it seems to be one person, or do they have a split personality?

Of course your view would not be coloured by your political believes and put them first rather than what's in the interest of the pupils.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Our political beliefs are not about putting one setting of people first or second; pitting people against each other. We believe in fairness. What does fairness mean? It means being just and that is often achieved, through discussion, debate and aiming for consensus.

ABH said...

Far from being one person opposing Academy conversion, there are hundreds fro across all three schools. We have been united, persistent and organised. We have worked under the radar and above it to unearth legal discrepancies, to make our opinions heard and to alert all stakeholders to the inequities of the proposals. Our work continues.

Jon Johnson said...

Calling out people as anon - very brave.
In any case, she clearly represented the views of staff ( her role) and in the absence of proper processes and much secrecy, it is right and proper there are (currently) some checks and balances in the system

Anon said...

I'm glad someone else has mentioned Lewisham Southwark College. Like Prendergast and Lewisham Hospital, this is a local institution to be proud of. For over a century it has trained people for local industries and made a huge contribution to the education of local people.

The college is due to undergo massive cuts. It is likely the college won't survive. This is in part to do with government cuts but also because of the huge cost of merging with Southwark College, which was not supported by Lewisham staff. Also, millions are wasted every year in employing a large proportion of teaching staff on zero hours contracts. The college pays millions to agencies to do this.

Please, keep your eyes and ears open to this threat to our community.

Not plain sailing said...

Please don't assume all parents are anti academy status.

Anon said...

If the Governors have been secretive as claimed then the only information parent would have been offered would be that of those whose political beliefs make them opposed to academies. Where's the fairness in that?
It's like saying UKIP's opinion of immigration is based on fairness and exposes government secretiveness. I doubt very much you express your opposition of Academies in a fair way.

No doubt you prefer the schools to be taken back into LEA control where they languished for years, held back by politically motivated vested interests. But instead of taking responsibility for your failings you'll palm them off onto someone else.

Anon said...

The governors are so secretive that within seconds I found a detailed document from the schools working party on the matter.

How about journalists opening themselves up to proper public scrutiny rather than hiding behind 'sources' and covering up phone hacking and corruption.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Note clearly what we said. "As far as we have seen from this, staff, students and parents are united"

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Put aside what you think our views on this are. Let's deal in facts. Find out how many teachers have given their notice to Prendergast Hilly Fields College since this academy stuff reared up, and baseline those figures against the average amount of teachers who leave in a year.
And, as for that particular school of the three pushing for the Academy structure, being "held back" look at its recent Ofsted reports, assuming you trust that.

Brockley Nick said...

Silly bit of sophistry - of course that's what you were implying. The default assumption of people opposed to this plan is that all parents agree with you. They don't. Nor do all the teachers.

terrencetrentderby said...

If the party says they are showing you five fingers then they are, even if its four. There is no loyalty except loyalty to the party Nick.

Anon said...

Meanwhile at Sedgehill (community school?) the governors were given the boot and replaced by an Interim Executive Board and who say the school has a deficit of almost £1m.

"The deficit resulted principally from an overspend on salaries for teaching staff, admin, and support staff. The Income that the school receives from external sources was also over estimated and not achieved."


Later this week the Mayor will be asked to approve a 5 year financial recovery plan....

"As significant staff saving cannot be achieved until 2016/17, the recovery plan needs to be over five years."

"The recovery plan’s major aim is to ensure the staffing costs are managed back within the budget set and then to operate an in-year budget surplus overall. This will allow the school to start paying off their deficit."

No doubt people will assemble to point the finger at anyone but themselves.

Anon said...

So the teachers who were well paid but producing poor results have done a bunk, how considerate of them.

Andrew Brown said...

It would be odd if all of us felt one way about these proposals, and it is difficult to know the proportions that feel one way or the other.

However, there's little doubt that across the range of consultation events that been put on by governors that the overwhelming majority those who attended (admittedly a minority of parents) aren't convinced or are actively hostile to the proposed conversion.

The question for me is whether academy status will improve the educational opportunities that my kids get and how any change will affect the wider educational community. The reading I've done doesn't suggest that conversion is the catalyst for improved outcomes, and elsewhere it has led to a fracturing of the educational community; so I'm not supporting the governors proposals.

Others with a stake in the school may take a different view, but ultimately this is a decision that the governors are keeping for themselves. All we can do, individually, is to make sure they're scrutinised properly, that they aren't allowed to feel that we don't care one way or the other, and to demand that they take the decision with the best interests of our children's futures at the forefront of their minds.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Repeat: "*As far as we have seen* from this, staff, students and parents are united"

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Slurs on teachers and no attempt at responding to the question posed.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Sedgehill achieved record A-level results 2014. Your featured comment is about money and budget overspends on" salaries for teaching staff, admin and support staff". A-levels make a huge difference to children's prospects. That's what we're all interested in isn't it... Lewisham kids doing well and getting on? *GCSE result were not great, but this was across the whole borough.


We're not privvy to the document you quote from, on the precise nature of the overspending, but this is the whole thing about austerity.
£900k is a lot of money, but in a culture of austerity, money takes on a disproportionate focus and can lead to panic decisions, "we've gotta cut back, we've gotta get back into budget" never mind the 'collateral damage', that being peoples lives, and young peoples prospects. And we refer not just to this particular situation, but the wider education world such as FE. In austerity, education is seen as a cost, rather than in an investment in our society.

*source: http://tinypic.com/r/s658oo/8

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, well if all you're saying is that of the self-selecting group of people you've talked to, everyone agrees with you, that is not a point worth making

Anon said...

Aren't you forgetting why Lewisham Council introduced an Interim Executive Board, it had nothing to do with finance. It had to do with poor GCSE results as indicted by a letter to parents in December 2014 from the then chair of Governors at Sedgehill.

From The Guardian 2014
"The proportion of students getting an A*-C grade in their GCSE results rose for the first time in three years.

Anything from an A*- G grade means a GCSE pass but the grades that often get most attention are A*-C. This year, the proportion of pupils getting an A*-C grade rose to 68.8% from 68.1% in 2013 - the first increase in three years."

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/aug/21/gcse-results-2014-the-full-breakdown

Percentage achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and maths GCSEs

In 2013 Sedgehill achieved 53% compared to 58.1% across Lewisham and 59.2% in England. The figures for 2014 at the school 44% compared to 51.8% in Lewisham and 53.4% across England.

That's almost a 20% drop at Sedgehill compared to a rise of in Lewisham and less than a 10% drop across England.

You don't have children's education as a priority, your political beliefs are far more important to you.

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/school.pl?urn=100743

Neilgadhok said...

I can only hope that academy status comes sooner than later. The Conservatives are working to revolutionise the educational sector and I think that's a good thing. We've become too complacent about educational standards in this country for too long. Hopefully with a majority they won't take their foot off the pedal and I won't have to think about moving in a couple of years time when my kids reach school age.

Not plain sailing said...

Noted clearly, thank you. Can I ask - 'As far as we have seen from this' - what is 'this'? The SAIL campaign?

I'm interested re teacher's leaving - are the numbers and reasons for leaving in the public domain? If yes please can you direct me to where? If not how can those of us on the outside know it to be fact that they have left due to the application for academy status? Are you comparing against how many usually leave hilly fields or a national average?

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

We are not part of the SAIL campaign. We have as much access to this as you have. Remember we are just Lewisham residents like you probably are. We have heard and it is hearsay, that staff a lot of leaving the implication is that is related academy stuff but we don't why and we don't whether it;s more than the normal attrition rates, for the period. It is point worth making as you've indicated by interest.
We are here to ask pertinent questions, amplify overlooked points.

H. said...

Hi, sorry, don't usually do this. I am not opposed to the Prendergast schools becoming academies and neither are a number of my neighbours, also parents. Do we count?

Not plain sailing said...

Ok, I'm not sure I get your point. You said earlier to anon 'let's deal in facts' - so none of us know how many teachers have left Hilly Fields since application, why they have left if they have, or if the number of leavers is more or less than a variety of averages?
I am a parent and Lewisham resident.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

You should count, ask the governors to have a ballot on their plans.

Not plain sailing said...

Absolutely, we will not all agree which is why I'm not convinced a parental ballot would work. I've not seen any proposals for how it would be administered and how the result would be determined. It may only serve to divide.

I like what I've seen from the Prendergast federation especially at Ladywell Fields. Just as you are not convinced as to why it would benefit your kids, I'm not convinced as to why it wouldn't.

SAIL campaigners tell me many of the teachers will leave if the schools become academies. I'm also a Gordonbrock parent and many teachers have left that school since my kids started and it's not an academy.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Appreciate this comment, in that you quoted figures, and a source for them.

The figures for GCSE are not great. Money and resources is what's been proven as what helps results; in that a school can target more teaching or support staff to a child that needs it. The pupil premium for children on free school meals is an acknowledgement of that. And the success of private schools too is attributed to the low teacher to pupil ratio. That's what you are what you’re paying for essentially. But A-levels results were good.

Sedgehill is a community school it’s non selective, (that’s a political thing, comprehensive education) in Bellingham/Beckenham Hill, its catchment area isn’t particularly affluent it has a high ratio of kids on FSM one third.

You wrote this "You don't have children's education as a priority, your political beliefs are far more important to you."

That's not true, but talking about education in general, education is not something that is neutral, it comes out of the values including the political values of the society. But that is another issue…

It is family fostering a culture of reading and curiosity, through access to good libraries, trips to museums and what’s called ‘enrichment’ so against austerity cuts which we oppose, take away.

The differences attainment at a young age from a family that reads to its kids and one that does can last throughout the education system http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-15639642

That’s why we fight so hard against cuts in spending to this area to the local authority.

If the local authority and all of who care (stakeholders), parents, teachers, pupils, governors all work together in a cool, calm determined way education in this borough will thrive.

AliAliAfro said...

With PHF currently rated 'outstanding' its always going to be a tough sell to convince anyone that something that ain't broke requires fixin'...

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