Wednesday 27 June 2012

Lib Dems wake up to school places crisis but where's Teather?

It is good to see that Brent Lib Dems have woken up to the school places crisis with their press release today (see below). Other urgent issues still remain to be addressed regarding academies, free schools and the future of the School Improvement Service. See my recent posting HERE
Liberal Democrat councillors are demanding urgent confirmation from Brent Council Education chiefs about whether there will be enough reception places available for four and five year-olds due to start school in Brent this September.
A newsletter circulated to councillors and governors recently admits:
…we will be able to provide Reception places to all the on-time applications received and offer places for most of the unplaced children in other years.
However, this still leaves us with insufficient places for the large numbers of late applications for Reception places which continue to arrive and are difficult to predict.
Liberal Democrat councillor Barry Cheese, who sits on the Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said:
Every year hundreds of parents miss the main closing date in January 2012. Often this is through no fault of their own: for example they may have recently moved into Brent. This is why the council organises eight further rounds of applications between May and August.
Brent Council has received £55 million from the government to pay for extra primary school places – equivalent to a dozen new primary schools.
We owe it to local children to make sure that they aren’t stuck at home when they should be starting their exciting journey through school. We need answers from the Council.
Sarah Teather MP reading with primary school aged children
Sarah Teather MP, Minister of State for Children and Families, has announced millions of pounds more funding for Brent Council to provide more primary school places.

Currently the Labour councillors who sit on the council’s decision-making Executive are not due to consider the school places issue until August, less than a month before the start of term.
As they have illustrated their Press Release with a picture of Sarah Teather it is pertinent to ask their position on the apparent Coalition policy of restricting funding of new schools to address the places shortage to academies or free schools, rather than the local authority community schools favoured by most Brent residents.

I hope they and other governors will bring these issues up at today's Conference for Brent School Governors at the Crown Moran Hotel in Cricklewood.

Meanwhile John Prescott and others have been active on Twitter asking why Sarah Teather was missing from the Education Debate in the House of Commons LINK

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