Friday, 23 September 2016

Fancy some lopping in the woods at the Welsh Harp on Saturday?

This is the work that will be undertaken tomorrow:

1. Cutting back hawthorn and blackthorn with sheers and loppers along the path to the education centre so children do not have to walk on the road. After we have cut that area back, we are hiring a contractor to strim the area so children do not have long grass going up to their knees whilst using the path.

2. We are going to be cutting back vegetation near the garden centre which is blocking signs. Drivers cannot see the 10mph speed limit sign as an example.

3. We are also going to be moving one of the log circles nearer to the classrooms as well as the one furthest away from the classroom is too far away for the younger years to use.

Contact Billy Coborn
07557 970 812

Slippery Standards meeting on Butt complaint

Cllr Muhammed Butt

I was unable to attend last night's Brent Standard's Committee Meeting last night as I was chairing a school governing body meeting elsewhere. It appears I missed a fascinating event. I am grateful to Cllr John Warren for providing the following first-hand account. Any views expressed are his own as I was not present.
I had a fascinating evening at last night’s Standards Committee..... it was 50 extraordinary minutes. The only item to discuss was the Penn report on Cllr. Butt - whether he had breached the members' code of conduct in his role in the " Tayo Oladapo " saga?

When I entered the meeting I thought I was in the wrong place, as the public gallery was packed. Why were there so many people here? On closer examination it was more like a Council meeting - not a packed public gallery you understand, but the number of Councilors in attendance.

Cllr.Allie was in the Chair.... as the meeting moved on he contributed very little. I was going to challenge Cllr.Kabir as not being an objective Committee member. I was going to refer to her e-mail to Labour members telling them to " rally round their leader." However, the redoubtable Cllr.Mahmood substituted for her.

I did challenge Cllr.Allie, however, on the grounds that he had been involved twice previously with Cllr.Butt in potential changes in political allegiance...and so was too close to him to be objective. The only response I got from Cllr.Allie was a series of scowls.

The meeting progressed with officers going through Mr. Penn’s report. It seemed that only Cllr. Collier and myself were engaging in this report, although Cllr. Collier was heckled for his efforts. From my position it looked like  Cllr. Wilhemina Mitchell-Murray was the main cheerleader.

In my experience Committee chairs take the lead. Not this chair! The report revolved around the meeting of Cllr. Butt and the Labour party official on 2/3/16.

Why did Cllr. Butt specifically ask her to make enquiries about Tao - after all he had all the Council resources available for others to take on this task?

Why did he not follow up on this enquiry- seemingly not being pro-active in finding out what the official had found out? As we know she found out that Tao had died five weeks earlier.

Why did this party official put her career on the line by making her statement?

Eventually, Cllr.Mahmood's contribution was to read verbatim the Penn recommendations. These stated that Cllr.Butt was not in breach of the code of conduct. In doing so, Cllr.Mahmood informed us that he had not read the whole report on which he was about to vote.

Oh yes, I forgot that Cllr.Krupa Sheth was also part of this committee.

The inevitable outcome was that the Penn recommendations were agreed. When it is one person' s word against another with no independent witnesses it is difficult to argue otherwise.

I found the whole exercise an experience I do not wish to repeat, and left with a feeling of sadness that a young Councillor - who died ridiculously too soon - had figured in an unwanted part of Brent Council history.


Commons Education Committee to investigate primary SATs tests

From the TES LINK

MPs are to investigate how this year's new tougher Sats tests have affected primary schools.
This was the first year that ten and 11-year-olds took the new tougher tests in reading, maths and spelling, grammar and punctuation. Pupils were also assessed in writing by their teachers according to a new controversial national framework.

Now the Commons Education Committee has launched an inquiry into primary assessment – looking at the implementation of the new system, its impact on teaching and learning schools and the wider issue of what primary assessment is for.

“This summer saw the introduction of arguably the biggest reforms in primary assessment since external assessment was introduced 25 years ago,” said Neil Carmichael, chair of the committee. “In this inquiry we want to look at the impact of the new national curriculum assessment (Sats) and how the current system affects teaching and learning."

Just 53 per cent of ten and 11-year-olds reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths this year.

The introduction of the new Sats, taken by more than 500,000 pupils, has been described as “chaotic” by unions. The NAHT, ATL and NUT have said that urgent changes are needed or they will consider a boycott in 2017.

The government has already put on hold plans to introduce multiplication tables tests next year and has said that proposed Year 7 resits will not begin in this academic year.
The committee inquiry will look into what should happen now the reforms have been made.
Other areas to be covered are:
  • The purpose of primary assessment and how well the current system meets this;
  • The advantages and disadvantages of assessing pupils at primary school;
  • How the most recent reforms have affected teaching and learning;
  • Logistics and delivery of the SATs;
  • Training and support needed for teachers and senior leaders to design and implement effective assessment systems;
"News of Sats boycotts in certain parts of the country and data showing almost half of pupils in England failed to meet the new tough standards in reading, writing and maths point to unresolved issues in the way we prepare our children for secondary school and help them reach their potential," Mr Carmichael said.

The deadline for written evidence is Friday 28 October. The public evidence sessions for this inquiry are due to begin in November.

Amy Johnson - free local history talk at Kingsbury Library - Wednesday September 28th

In a further example of Brent Libraries working with local voluntary organisations Philip Grant will be speaking about another famous former Brent resident on Wednesday 28th September:

In 1929 a 26 year-old typist came to live in Kingsbury. Within a year, she had become one of the most famous women in the world, after flying solo to Australia in a light aeroplane. Kingsbury Library invites you to join Philip Grant, from Wembley History Society, for an illustrated talk about Amy and her remarkable flight to Darwin, via Vienna, Istanbul, Aleppo, Baghdad, Bander Abbas, Karachi, Calcutta, Rangoon, Bangkok, Singapore, Java and Timor (what did these well-known places from recent history look like in 1930?).

A memorial to Amy Johnson in Herne Bay. She died nearby when her Air Transport Auxillary plane came down in January 1941
Amy Johnson had the rare distinction of having a song written about her achievements that became a hit. The record was innovative in including sound effects and commentary extracts:


A Wembley Matters reader has sent me a photograph, taken in Kingsbury yesterday morning. He remarks:
This year is the first time, in over 25 years, that I have seen ripening apples and apple blossom on a tree in my garden at the same time. Is this another example of the seasons getting mixed up, as a result of climate change?

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Will Ark get into the Secondary Modern business?

Guest blog by Ray Singh-Standids

In 2014 Copland School was taken out of local authority control and forced to become an academy.  The reason given was that Copland, (a school whose staff and students had suffered a unique period of  mismanagement and corruption which resulted in the sacking of the governing body and criminal charges against the headteacher and his management team), was judged to be a ‘failing school’.  The consequence of this judgement was forced academisation, a move which parents, staff and students voted against but which Cllrs Pavey and Butt publicly supported. 

In 2014, Copland’s last year, 46% of students obtained  5 GCSE subjects including English and Maths at grades A*-C . This followed improvements of 3 percentage points for each of the previous 2 years despite this  being a period in which senior management was helping the police with their enquiries and Ofsted inspectors and other nuisances constantly cluttered up the classrooms hampering  the continuity and flow of the educational experience of staff and students.

Copland was forced to become  Ark Elvin Academy  in September 2014. By the end of Ark Elvin’s  first year the headline 5 GCSE figure had dropped from 46% to 36%. For  2016 the figure is apparently  an even more dismal 31%. Those figures again:
2012  Copland School            5 A*-C  inc English and Maths       40%
2013  Copland School            5 A*-C  inc English and Maths       43%
2014  Copland School            5 A*-C  inc English and Maths       46%
2015  Ark Elvin Academy       5 A*-C   inc English and Maths       36%
2016  Ark Elvin Academy       5 A*-C   inc English and Maths       31%

If Copland was judged to be ‘failing’ at a 5 GCSE rate of 46%, what does that make Ark Academies’ effort of 31% only 2 years later? Ark would no doubt blame the 31% results on Copland’s teaching in earlier years. But that doesn’t stand up as Copland’s 46%  was achieved in those exact same  circumstances (arguably worse circumstances, in fact,  as Copland’s 46% students hadn’t had the benefit of Ark Academies’ claimed excellence at ‘driving up standards’).

So, what’s to be done, Cllrs Pavey and Butt must surely be asking themselves.   When comprehensives ‘fail’ they’re  forced  to become academies, (with your enthusiastic support, Cllrs Butt and Pavey). But Ark Elvin already is an academy. So when an academy ‘fails’  you’ve got a problem.  Do you turn it back into a local authority comprehensive? Not allowed, I’m afraid. But don’t worry, Cllrs,  the Tories  have come up with another wheeze to help you  out. Theresa May has said she’s going to bring back grammar schools (for the very small percentage who pass the 11 plus exam). But for every one grammar school she brings back, (though she hasn’t said this), she’ll have to bring back three  secondary modern schools  for the very large percentage who fail the 11 plus.  And that’s where Ark Elvin comes in. Those sharp hedge fund billionaires who run Ark Academies Inc  know a business opportunity when they see one  and are probably already making plans for this one.  Expect the Ark Secondary Moderns ‘charity’ to be announced within weeks with Ark Elvin as the flagship model (after due consultation, of course) . Problem solved. Tories to the rescue again, just like last time! And don’t worry,  Cllrs Butt and Pavey.  You liked forced academisation so you’re going to love forced secondary modernisation!   Magna Aude! (Or Big German Car  as we’ll probably have to change the motto to for the sake of  those secondary modern duffers).

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Parents pledge to fight for retention of Granville Plus Nursery School

Extract from Ofsted Report July 2015
Parents of children at Granville Plus Nursery School in South Kilburn are petitioning Brent Council over plans for the redevelopment of the site on which the nursery, including a recent purpose built extension, is located LINK.  So far there have been no clear reassurances from the Council about the future of the popular and much needed nursery school and is special provision.

This is the parents' introduction to the petition (edited):
Brent Council have decided to redevelop the site in which  the Granville Plus Nursery is currently located and have omitted its existence in both of its two options for redevelopment.

We, the parents and carers of children who currently attend this nursery, as well as past users and members of the local community, strongly object to its closure and the loss of the range of valuable services provided.

The nursery has been serving the community since the late 1970s and 75% of the children currently attending are from NW6 with a further 14% from NW10.  8% of its places are for children in need, usually with social care needs, including child protection. Currently 17% of its children have a significant special educational need or disability (SEND) which includes 11 in their specialist horizon provision and an additional 8 places for children with significant specialist needs, including physical disabilities and medical needs.

The child with SEN are fully integrated within the mainstream nursery environment and the provisions in place, which include autism provision, were recently judged to be Outstanding in the latest Ofsted report.

51% of its place are being used for babies and 2-3 year olds with nearly all of them funded by the 'vulnerable 2 year olds' NEG2 funding.

Many of its current children have parents who themselves attended this provision and who have placed their children in its care to enable them to return to work as the nursery school offers places to young babies all the way through to school age and is open from 8am to 6pm, 48 years of the year.  It is staffed by highly experienced early years experts, some qualified to Masters level, with all teams led by a qualified teacher.

The loss of this provision would undoubtedly impact on these parents, some of whom may have no other choice than to give up their education or work if no alternative child care provider could be found offering the same provision as Granville Plus Nursery School within the local area and with similar flexible fee structures.

In addition to this the Granville Plus Nursery School also employs several people from the local community by providing placements for NVQ Level 3 students and they have a partnership with the Institute of Education training staff to be qualified teachers.

In addition to this this Granville annually run a highly respected evidence based parenting programme, Strengthening Communities, which has successfully helped raise parenting confidence and improved social cohesion.

The nursery garden is also an integral part of the Early Years curriculum and often a huge surprise for those people who first encounter it as it is truly an oasis within a highly urbanised environment. It provides a place in which children, who otherwise would have no access to a safe outside space, to play and discover.

We feel that the loss of our Nursery School will have an immediate and dramatic impact to us, the users at present, and to future generations within our community.

We intend to fight to keep these vital services available in our community.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Brent Kilburn Connects to discuss air pollution, proposed parliamentary constituency changes & benefit cap tomorrow (Wednesday)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

London Interfaith Centre, 125 Salusbury Road NW6 6RG
(Modern building with glass frontage and dome on top between Queens Park and Brondesbury Park stations) 206 bus ir walk down from Brondesbury Park station


  • Air pollution in Brent: what’s being done about it? Councillor James Denselow – Chair
    Aaron Kiely, Campaigner – Friends of the Earth, Tony Kennedy, Head of Transportation – Brent, Jennifer Barrett, Senior Regulatory Service Manager – Brent, Oliver Lord, Principal Policy Officer (Air quality / green transport) – Greater London Authority 
  • Soapbox 
  • Draft proposals for new parliamentary constituency boundaries for England: what does this mean for Brent? Sean O’Sullivan, Electoral Services Manager - Brent
  • Overall Benefit Cap changes from November 2016: be prepared!
    Are you aware of options available to you and sources of potential support and assistance?
    Neil Gann, Welfare Reform Project Manager - Brent

For further information please email