Thursday, 23 March 2023

Millions unspent on retrofitting London’s homes

 This story from Green Party Asssemby Member Zack Polanski, puts today's retrofit announcement from Brent Council in perspective. Brent was awarded the second lowest amount of the successsful London boroughs:

Green London Assembly Member Zack Polanski today revealed to the Mayor that just 45 homes had been retrofitted across London under the Government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, despite £18 million being made available to London councils over a year ago.

The measures to improve the energy efficiency of London’s homes were supposed to be completed by the end of March 2023, but a shortage of skilled workers has delayed delivery.

Green London Assembly Member Zack Polanski said:

The Mayor is still sitting on his hands despite declaring a ‘retrofit revolution’ two years ago.

His failure to get a handle on the retrofit skills gap is preventing London benefitting from available Government funds.

The Mayor needs to get his retrofit revolution on the right track, support the upgrading of homes and protect Londoners from sky-high energy bills.

Nine of the 11 London boroughs awarded funds have failed to deliver any retrofitting works at all. This represents over £13 million of available government funding not being put to use.

Across the country, just 14% of the planned 20,000 homes expected to be upgraded have had works completed. As a result, the deadline for local authorities to spend the first wave of funding has been extended to June.

Housing experts, including representatives from the Chartered Institute of Housing, say the slow rollout of retrofit upgrades stems from a national skills shortage in the retrofit sector.[5] London Councils have said that London needs 110,000 people working in retrofit by 2030. Currently, there are only 4,000

The publication of this data comes after the Mayor of London showed hesitance to ramp-up his retrofit skills training offer using his £320 million Adult Education Budget. Speaking to the London Assembly in November, the Mayor said, “what we need is some certainty there are [retrofit] jobs to go to.”

With Londoners facing rising bills during the cost of living crisis, retrofitting homes to improve their energy efficiency is a way to reduce energy bills and household costs – while reducing emissions.

The second wave of funding, being made available to local authorities and housing associations later this year, is around four times the budget of the first wave, at almost £800 million.


£1.32m boost for energy efficiency measures in 127 units of Brent's social housing

127 units of Brent Councils' most energy inefficient social housing stock are to benefit from a £1.32m grant from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund for energy efficiency improvements. Bent Council say that the  project will help equip Brent to achieve its goal in reducing CO2 emissions from social housing and improve tenants’ comfort and wellbeing

The works will be managed by Brent’s long-term delivery partner, Wates, with project oversight from the Brent Major Works team.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Join Fuel Povery Action Manifesto for 'Energy for All' launch tomorrow at 6.30pm


From Fuel Poverty Action

Fuel Poverty Action is launching an Energy For All Manifesto. Join us online on Thursday 23rd March to mark this event!   Register HERE

Hear about the energy pricing revolution, for a cheaper, greener and fairer system to meet everyone's needs.

Speakers to include:

Clive Lewis MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Anne McLaughlin MP

Ian Hodson - Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.

Paula Peters - Disabled People Against Cuts

Mia Watanabe - Warm This Winter Coalition

Indigo Rumbelow - Just Stop Oil

Chaitanya Kumar - New Economics Foundation

Ruth London - Fuel Poverty Action

In recent months, we’ve built pressure through a range of strategies and tactics. Our Energy For All petition received over 650,000 signatures before we handed it into parliament. We collaborated with MPs from a range of parties on an Early Day Motion for a Universal Basic Energy Allowance. We carried out two nationwide mobilisations; in December gaining mass coverage for E4A, and in January delivering a major win on our short term goal to end the forced installation of prepayment meters. Meanwhile, the New Economics Foundation has been carrying out costing and modelling of the proposal, with very positive results so far.

We call on organisations, trade and tenants unions, community and faith groups, MPs, local authorities and distinguished individuals to sign in support of our Manifesto, to help build weight behind the demand for Energy For All. Sign here!

(We plan for the event to last an hour but may run over to allow every speaker to have their chance).





Tuesday, 21 March 2023






Teachers and leaders work under the shadow cast by Ofsted. An unfair and unreliable inspectorate.

As Ofsted approaches its 30-year anniversary, now is the right time to examine what effect its inspections have on the quality of education that teachers and leaders are able to provide and, in particular, for our most disadvantaged pupils.

In 2017, the National Audit Office concluded that: “Ofsted does not know whether its school inspections are having the intended impact: to raise the standards of education and improve the quality of children’s and young people’s lives.”

Ofsted has never published any research to prove that its inspections accurately reflect the quality of education schools provide. Comprehensive, independent analysis of Ofsted judgements show they discriminate against schools in deprived areas – awarding ‘outstanding’ grades to four times more secondary schools with better off pupils than schools with students who are worse off. A major research study showed that, even when schools in deprived areas are making excellent value-added progress, they are still more likely to be given poor Ofsted judgements.

Teachers and leaders know that working in disadvantaged areas is likely to be harmful to their careers because of the unfairness of Ofsted judgements. It is harder to recruit and retain teachers in these schools. Poor children, who most need qualified and experienced teachers if they are to fulfil their potential, are least likely to get them.

School inspection must be fair. It should be supportive. It should not be, as too many Ofsted inspections are, punitive.

The stress and unsustainable workload generated by Ofsted is a major factor in the appalling teacher retention rates that blight English education. Nearly 40 per cent of teachers leave the profession within ten years. No education system can improve while it haemorrhages school leaders and teachers.

We must create a new approach to school and college evaluation which is supportive, effective and fair.

We are calling on the Government to:

  1. Replace Ofsted with a school accountability system which is supportive, effective and fair;
  2. Work with teachers, leaders and other stakeholders to establish a commission to learn how school accountability is done in other high performing education nations;
  3. Develop an accountability system which commands the trust and confidence of education staff as well as parents and voters.

Ofsted inspection at 'refuse entry' school goes ahead 'following discussions with the parties involved'. Petition calling for inquiry into Caversham Primary inspection takes off.


Staff stage silent protest outside John Rankin School this morning

Schools Week reported this morning LINK  that the Ofsted inspection of John Rankin School in Newbury will go ahead today despite the Executive Headteacher's statement yesterday that she would refuse entry to the inspection team:

Flora Cooper, executive headteacher at John Rankin Infant and Nursery School had originally called on other headteachers who want Ofsted reform to join the protest.

But yesterday afternoon, she asked them not to turn up. “I have to protect our children, our staff and our community,” she wrote on Twitter.

West Berkshire Council has now confirmed the inspection will go ahead “following discussions between the parties involved”.

The school said it could not comment.

The Department of Education (DfE) issued a statement yesterday, stressing the legal requirement of schools and nurseries to be inspected by Ofsted.

Under the Education Act, it is a criminal offence to intentionally obstruct inspectors from carrying out their duties, with a fine of up to £2,500.

However, it appears staff did hold a silent protest outside the school gates this morning.

Meanwhile a petition calling for an inquiry into the Ofsted inspection of the school where the headteacher took her own life has been gathering signatures. LINK

The petition reads:

Ruth Perry had been the headteacher at Caversham Primary School for 13 years when Ofsted visited her school on the 15 and 16 November 2022.  The experience drove her to sadly take her own life.

Ofsted need to force an inquiry into this inspection and review the actual inspection report that the school are now forced to have on their school website that callously and unnecessarily makes reference to Ruth’s death within it.

Ofsted inspections have evolved into such a monster that the mere thought of them causes fear, stress and anxiety to schools, school leadership and staff alike.  Actual inspections can leave staff in tears.  Many leaders leave the profession following an inspection because the stress caused by the inspection is simply too great and sadly some take their own life, like in the very sad case of Ruth Perry.

It shouldn’t be like that an Ofsted or equivalent inspection should be a supportive process and help the school to find the whys and support to work on the weakness an inspection shouldn’t seek to crush and destroy.  The Ofsted inspection should be there to ensure that children are looked after and taught in a safe environment and that the standards are in place for them to thrive and sometimes that means that the framework has to bend the framework has become unwieldy and cumbersome and inspectors have become less supportive and instead seek to trip schools up, terrorise and traumatise.  

Ofsted need to look into this case specifically, review the inspection and the actual wording of that report, what could have been done better.  

They also need to review the whole system, it isn’t working, inspections are too unwieldy and it takes too long to get through them leaving schools for too many years between inspections 3, 5, 10, 13 plus years is too long between inspections.  They need to be smarter, quicker and more supportive. 

Please take action now, sign the petition and let’s see if we can drive change so that the actions that Ruth Perry felt she had to take, never, ever happens again.

RIP Ruth Perry.

It appears that the published Ofsted report has already been modified:

Monday, 20 March 2023

UPDATE: Executive Headteacher gets huge wave of social media support after tweeting that she was going to refuse entry to Ofsted. NEU calls for a pause on all inspections after recent events.


UPDATE: Flora Cooper has made it clear that she does not want supporters of her decision to go to the school on Tuesday. This is for the protection of staff and children.


Social media was full of comments over the weekend about what many viewed as 'toxic' Ofsted inspections. This followed the sad news about a headteacher who, according to her family, took her own life due to the stress of an anticipated negative Ofsted finding.  Ofsted were criticised for their report on the school which merely noted the death of the headteacher during the inspection. I understand the report was taken down following the criticism.

This morning Flora Cooper, Executive Headteacher of John Rankin School, took to Twitter to announce that she was taking a stand following 'the call' from Ofsted that they were coming in to inspect the school. She announced baldly, 'I've had the call. I've refused entry.'

In subsequent tweets she called for support and it poured in, although of course, not everyone was sympathetic. LINK

The NEU issued the following statement today:

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said;  

Given recent events and widespread concerns about leaders’ wellbeing, it’s the height of insensitivity for Ofsted to be going into schools or colleges this week.

Ofsted should pause all its inspections and reflect upon the unmanageable and counter-productive stress they cause for school leaders, and the impact on leaders. This stress is well-documented in literature about Ofsted. That they are phoning leaders this week and initiating inspections speaks to the arrogance of Ofsted and their absolute lack of empathy. The claims by Ofsted to make fair or reliable judgements are not credible and this is part of the immense stress and distress for leaders.

This is an agency that is completely out of touch, and which is making claims and judgements which are unreliable. This can’t go on. Ofsted should be concerned about restoring enhanced professionalism to school leaders and education staff but they are not.  The NEU believes inspections should be paused.    

The Union is campaigning for Ofsted to be replaced. This week a petition to Replace Ofsted will be delivered to the DFE with over 40,000 signatures from across the profession. It’s time we urgently prioritise the welfare and wellbeing of the leaders and staff working so hard with children and young people in their community. We need a system which is supportive, effective and fair.

March 24th: Street Theatre outside Brent Civic Centre as climate activists take on oil companies in tug of war over fossil fuel investments. Which side will YOU be on?

From Divest Brent


Roll up, roll up for the Brent Pension Fund Tug of War! Theatre, magic and music! From 4.15 to 5.30 pm, outside the Wembley Library entrance to the Civic Centre (near Sainsbury's) Friday 24th March.


Divest Brent is organising a street theatre 'tug-of-war' - with Brent Pension Fund being pulled between the big oil companies, who are anxious to keep their place in the Pension Fund’s portfolio, and those of us who believe that in the climate emergency the Pension Fund should not be financing climate break-down. The street theatre show, with colourful props, comedy, magic and song, will take 10 minutes and will be repeated from time to time until 5.30.


Organiser Simon Erskine said: 


More than 30 groups across Britain are expected to join the 'Divest from Crisis' day of action on Friday 24 March. Brent will join local demonstrations taking place across the UK, urging councils, pension funds, and financial institutions to take action to address the crises of fuel poverty, climate breakdown, and energy security by divesting from fossil fuels. Despite declaring a climate and ecological emergency in 2019 Brent is still estimated to have nearly £26 million* invested in planet-wrecking fossil fuels through its local government pension fund.


In July 2019 Brent Council declared a climate and ecological emergency and committed to do all in its gift to strive for carbon neutrality by 2030.This declaration did not extend to Brent’s billion-pound Pension Fund because the Fund looks after the pensions of Council staff and support staff in schools. The Fund has, however, made some progress with investment into a low-carbon fund (albeit representing only 3% of the Fund) and a Net Zero Roadmap charting a course which should eventually lead to divestment. But global warming is indeed a climate emergency and we do not have time for the Roadmap to run its course. The Roadmap should not get in the way of a rapid divestment from the fossil fuels which are so much to blame for the emergency.


More information HERE:

FURTHER UPDATE: OVO Arena's premises licence challenged by members of the public alleging assault and threats of violence by security staff against adult and a child

 UPDATE 23.3.23

A Spokesperson for Ovo Arena said:

"As our priority is to ensure the safety of everyone attending the venue, OVO Arena Wembley takes all customer complaints very seriously. We have co-operated in full with the Police and following thorough investigations by both venue and police, it has been concluded that no further action is required.We are co-operating fully with Brent Council and have provided them with all necessary information, policies and procedures to conduct the venue’s licence review."


 Brent Council's Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Sub-Committee is to hear an unusual case on Tuesday March 28th. Two members of the public are applying for a review of the premises licence for the OVO Arena in Wembley, held by AEG Facilities (UK) Ltd.

The grounds for review are the Prevention of Crime & Disorder, Public Safety and the Protection of Children from Harm. One applicant alleges assault and threats of violence against himself and a minor by security staff. Another alleges detention without reason and sexual assault.
The Committee is informed:
These premises are currently licensed for Regulated Entertainment, Late Night Refreshment the sale of alcohol and to remain open 24hrs a day Monday to Sunday.
The steps the Committee may take are:
  1. To modify, remove or add conditions
  2.  To exclude the sale of alcohol or other licensable activity
  3.  Remove the Designated Premises Supervison
  4.  Suspend the licence for up to 3 months.
  5.  Revoke the licence
A member of the public has submitted the representation below: 
And another has sent in this representation (statement begins at page 8) 
 All the papers can be viewed HERE. The meeting takes place on Tuesday 28th March at 10am. The public and press may be excluded from some parts of the meeting:
Part of the consideration of Agenda Item 3 above may involve the disclosure of information classified as exempt under Paragraph 7 of Part 1 Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, namely: “Information relating to any action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime”.
 AEG Facilities has been contacted for a comment.