Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

New Secondary School: how the meeting went

So – the second meeting of the ‘New School Bidders’ for the competition to take control and author a new secondary school in in Haringey. If you remember, we kicked up at the first meeting because there were only six were members of the public.

This time it was a packed meeting – maybe a hundred people. I had put out an email to my lists as I am never convinced that a notice in a local paper – which is the standard Council approach – really reaches everyone. It’s a good thing that other people did promote this meeting as Haringey Council did not even get round to updating their website pages about the new school to mention the second meeting. But this time we didn’t leave it to just the Council – and got a far, far better attendance. And as a result the bidders did better and the questions were more testing.

Without going into the minutiae of the presentations – there are three outside bodies bidding and one from Haringey itself for a community school. What is so hard for everyone (outside of the fact we shouldn’t be having a competition at all) is how do you decide? They all say they will be part of the community. They all say they will abide by the code of admission and so on.

Of the bidders I thought the Haberdashers gave the best presentation – but that may be because their Chief Exec was the best presenter. She certainly gave it life and talking to a parent afterwards who has a child who may well attend the new school he certainly felt that out of the four this would be the best.

Amongst my concerns is that whilst I can understand inviting outside management in when schools are failing and they need someone to come in and take it on – this is a brand new school to be built. But regardless of what people locally might decide they want – power really still rests with Labour in Whitehall. Labour dictates that its rules and its preferences have to be followed and its hoops jumped through to have a chance of new money.

In fact, the Government laid a statutory instrument (an amendment to legislation) on 19th January which means that instead of our local Schools Organisation Committee taking the decision on who wins the bid – the decision is being taken out of local hands and will be given to the Schools Adjudicator appointed by the Secretary of State for Education. So even less local say courtesy of centralising Labour, again.

So – my offer to the meeting was to lay down some Parliamentary Questions to find out how transparent the process with the adjudicator will be. What are the criteria? Will we see the reasons for the final choice? Can there be access to the consultation submissions? And Cllr Gail Engert, my Lib Dem colleague, also got agreement (subject to confirmation) that the Schools Organisation Committee which will meet to decide its view will be open to the public. There may also now be the opportunity for a further public meeting with the Schools Adjudicator so that the local people can directly voice there opinions.

It is important that everyone submits there views to this process (it’s all we have). You can email your views to the council at bsd@haringey.gov.uk – though please also copy me in as it’s useful to get a wide spread of feedback. You can use my contact form or post comments on this blog.

Wed 7 February 2007
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