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Southwark Fire Station and the Haberdashers' Aske's Federation

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Tuesday 22 September 2015 12.12am
Schools were much better after the ILEA was disbanded. Local authorities were able to make decisions that best suited the local intake and it's different needs (the ILEA treated all the schools the same whether in run-down areas, or in the most expensive parts of London). What was good about working in an authority school was the sharing of ideas, materials and experience via it's teaching centres and the various courses they ran. I knew a large number of teachers across Lewisham that taught the same subject as me as we often met on courses and we all supported each other when there was curriculum changes. Once my school became an academy I met with less teachers and became quite isolated. I hadn't realised that all the Southwark secondary schools are now 'independent' and I can see why Southwark might look towards one of the chains to set this one up, but I think we should be careful that these chains don't become so big that they start writing educational policy. Personally, I think that Southwark should employ a management team from across the borough to set up the new school and give it it's own identity instead of all this cloning.
Tuesday 22 September 2015 9.15am
Karen I wrote:
I hadn't realised that all the Southwark secondary schools are now 'independent' and I can see why Southwark might look towards one of the chains to set this one up, but I think we should be careful that these chains don't become so big that they start writing educational policy. Personally, I think that Southwark should employ a management team from across the borough to set up the new school and give it it's own identity instead of all this cloning.

It's not "Southwark looking towards an academy chain". Southwark have nothing/little to do with it. That's the point.

Any old group of people can bid to set up a free school. The local councils have nothing to do with it. In fact, as I understand it, they're prevented from being involved in it.

...if you press it, they will come.
Tuesday 22 September 2015 9.34am
Ivanhoe wrote:
In fact, as I understand it, they're prevented from being involved in it.

But I wonder whether the rules/regulations would prevent Southwark from setting up an ALMO which in turn could establish a "free" school.
Tuesday 22 September 2015 9.54am
No idea what an ALMO is (but I assume it's whatever body you need to bid for a free school).

I guess that a local authority could do that*. Perhaps we should lobby the council (although, given James' post above, clarifying that Southwark actively wanted its schools to become academies, I wouldn't expect to meet with any enthusiasm).

*Although I expect you'd need to have a thorough check of the rules for bidding. I'd have assumed that whichever Govt set up the rules would have made sure that a "rogue" LEA was prevented from getting around their intentions.

...if you press it, they will come.
Tuesday 22 September 2015 10.07am
An ALMO is an arm's-length managed organisation. It was all the rage a few years back for councils to do this with their housing stock. Lambeth Living was an ALMO. Another acronym for it might be a QUANGO.

It's scary that any Tom, Dick or Harry can choose to set up a school and so long as they get the paperwork right the DoE will finance them to the tune of millions.

We should lobby the council for it to set an ALMO/QUANGO/whatever term you give it up to establish a free school. Perhaps there has been a change of view since the Labour administration assumed power?
Tuesday 22 September 2015 10.32am
It's worth a try, I suppose. Democracy, and all that....

...if you press it, they will come.
Tuesday 22 September 2015 11.56am
I assume that any academy will require a sponsor eg Harris and the Haberdashers, unless that too, has changed. I won't be at the meeting tonight because I am not a parent, but I would hope that someone asks how much money the Haberdashers will put in to the academy and over what period. It would also be useful to know how this will be spent (hopefully not on company cars which has been known!).
Tuesday 22 September 2015 12.12pm
Having been through the lottery that is getting a place at a secondary school in Southwark with my son a few years ago i think most Southwark parents want a decent school that is local for their kids and not to find that despite putting 6 schools down their kid is either allocated a school place 2 bus rides away or at a nearer school that has places as no one wanted their kids to go there.

I was lucky my son got his school but still remember the tears and upset that were caused by the results of the lottery and in all honesty most parents would not care if the school was run by a trained chimp if it meant their kids were given the opportunity to get a decent education at a school that has good results. To that end the Askes school will be totally oversubscribed as perception is the schools are good(the new cross Askes when my son was changing school has a catchment area of 400m-i did not apply).
Tuesday 22 September 2015 3.49pm
dee dee wrote:
Having been through the lottery that is getting a place at a secondary school in Southwark with my son a few years ago i think most Southwark parents want a decent school that is local for their kids and not to find that despite putting 6 schools down their kid is either allocated a school place 2 bus rides away or at a nearer school that has places as no one wanted their kids to go there.
I was lucky my son got his school but still remember the tears and upset that were caused by the results of the lottery and in all honesty most parents would not care if the school was run by a trained chimp if it meant their kids were given the opportunity to get a decent education at a school that has good results. To that end the Askes school will be totally oversubscribed as perception is the schools are good(the new cross Askes when my son was changing school has a catchment area of 400m-i did not apply).

Hear, hear!

Compared to many of the other groups who would be likely to be bidding to run new secondary schools (creationist academy, anyone?), Hab's don't look half bad.

As Karen has said, governance is very important (and it's worth noting that Hab's aren't the only group who have lost money/done badly in managing their schools at some point - do some research on EACT, for instance).

However, I've got to agree with dee dee and say that quality of education is my overwhelming priority.

Any half-credible, secular (i.e. open to all) school would be an improvement on the options that we currently have, imho.

...if you press it, they will come.
Wednesday 23 September 2015 7.31am
I am astonished Aske’s is being considered for this site. They were turned down for a similar project in Dulwich for good reason; they failed to notice millions of pounds being stolen; their results at the flagship Hatcham school have been falling steadily for ten years in spite of constantly being massaged; the results at Knights Academy school are appalling and the Ofsted report there was very bad; the staff turnover at all schools is extremely high; there was according to friends of mine very nearly a strike at Hatcham (the supposedly good school in the chain) over bad working conditions; anecdotal reports from teachers about the federation appointing lots of senior managers at their schools and losing or forcing out their most experienced teachers to save money. All in all, I wouldn’t trust them, certainly wouldn’t send my own children there. They're not a safe bet in terms of management style or providing a good education. Southwark deserves better.
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