Monday 18 June 2012

We MUST hear from Children and Families about these vital issues

Brent Council's website is acting up but there still appears to be no report from Children and Families going to the Executive this evening.

I have posted before on this silence regarding a major area of Council business.  Here are some of the things happening right now that the Executive really should be asking about:

CHILDREN'S SAFEGUARDING - The possible injury or death of a child is quite high up in Brent Council's Corporate Risk Assessment and the Council's last Ofsted inspection in this area was only 'satisfactory' with some inadequate areas.

CHILDREN NOT IN SCHOOL - Failure to meet statutory obligations regarding offering all children of school age a school place is another issue on the Risk Register and it appears that some expansion programmes are falling behind.

FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT IN BRENT SCHOOL - A forth Brent headteacher hit the headlines in the Evening Standard last week after being suspended while investigations into financial management issues take place and the Copland accused appeared in court. These matters are damaging the reputation of Brent Council and Brent schools and deserve some scrutiny.

FREE SCHOOL - The School Expansion Report confirmed that the Council was seeking partners to set up a free school and this is something that split the local Labour Party.  Have any sponsors been found? Are they the rumoured Christian organisation?

ACADEMIES - Staff at Alperton high School have been on strike following the governing body's decision to seek Cooperative Academy status and Queens Park and Wembley High are  considering co-op conversion. All this will mean a further loss of money to the hard-pressed local authority. Meanwhile Sudbury Primary, already a foundation school, is also trying to fast-track to academy status. Sudbury was in the headlines last week for charging children to listen to the children's poet (and socialist activist) Michael Rosen.

COOPERATIVE TRUST - A public notice was published last week indicating Preston Manor All-though School's decision to go for Trust status with partners including The College of North West London, the Wembley Primary School Cluster and Woodfield Special School. The LA will have one trustee on the board.  

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT SERVICE - It appears that Brent Primary Headteachers' Group  has rejected all the possible options for future school improvement services and in-service education provision put forward by the Council and appear to be determined to 'go it alone' unless the SIS comes up with something better. This raises all sorts of questions about whether schools have the ability to provide such a service, how it will affect the workload of headteachers, and whether it will be sufficiently stringent to ensure that failing schools are spotted early on before children are damaged.

Neither the Lib Dem nor Tory opposition groups have a spokesperson on Children and Families, despite it being a major department, and it seems to me that these issues are not being given the attention they deserve.

The lack of leadership on education from either Brent officers or councillors has created a vacuum which ate present appears to have been filled by the two Johns: Yates and Simpson who as consultants are advising Brent primary headteachers.

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