Consultation Over Stoke-on-Trent School Site

Parents and carers of pupils who attend Sandon Business and Enterprise College in Stoke-on-Trent are being invited to take part in a consultation over the future of the Box Lane site of the school.

Council officers and governors have been meeting to discuss the future of the site, which was due to close in 2013. However, due to the poor state of the buildings and pressure on the school’s budget, along with the fall in pupil numbers, there are proposals to close the site at the end of the summer term this year.

Currently, around one hundred and twenty five (125) students are being taught at the Box Lane site, and around sixty (60) could transfer after the summer break, as the school will be able to accommodate the new intake.

The existing buildings at Box Lane are due to close in two years time but following detailed examination of the classrooms and facilities it is proposed to close the site early in the best interests of both pupils and staff.

“Moving the young people from this outdated site early will benefit them in many ways, and we are keen to ensure that all children and young people receive the best quality education in the very best facilities. Closing Box Lane means we can secure the highest standards of education and ensure all available funding is used to best advantage at the Sandon site, rather than money continuing to be spent on a soon-to-be redundant school building.”

After the consultation has finished governors from Sandon Business and Enterprise College will meet council officers to consider the findings and make a final decision.

The consultation is open to all parents and carers at the school and will end on March 18th. People interested in taking part can do so can do so by giving their views in writing to Laura Wright or Sarah Pilling, Children and Young People’s Services, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, SRT41RN or email laura.wright@stoke.gov.uk or sarah.pilling@stoke.gov.uk .

Children star in “parents” DVD

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter.

Pupils and teachers from schools in the south east of Stoke-on-Trent – known as “Cluster 3″ – are starring in a new DVD which shows parents how they can help with their children’s education.

The short film,” It’s a parent thing”, has been written, produced and directed by schools staff while the fifteen child actors were chosen from a group of fifty who auditioned during a two day drama “master class” run by specialist teachers from Longton High and Belgrave Primary CE Schools.

The DVD is aimed at parents of primary aged children and is packed with ideas to help them support their child’s learning. The film tackles a range of problems parents can face, like encouraging a reluctant child to take more of an interest in learning.

David Eaglestone, a former head teacher who helped produce the DVD, said: “We’ve produced this film because we are very aware that parenting is tough and everybody needs help at some time. Parents often say they don’t know how to help their children so we hope that the DVD will build their confidence to get involved. Research shows that parents make a massive difference to their child’s development if they just show an interest in their child’s learning.”

Cllr Ian Mitchell

Cllr Ian Mitchell

Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Councillor Ian Mitchell, said: “This is an excellent idea. Children learn best when there is a strong partnership between home and school and teachers really need parents and carers support. It also promotes the idea of getting the whole family “learning together” which can be fun, too.”

The film also points parents in the direction of additional help from “Family Learning” sessions which are available to parents in schools and early years settings around the city.

The DVD will be launched on October 5th and will be distributed FREE to  families through schools in the Meir and Longton areas of the city. Anyone wanting a copy can contact their child’s school or their local Children’s Centre.

ACADEMY OPENING DATES BROUGHT FORWARD

city-of-stoke1In another twist and turn in the BSF plot, it has been announced today that 3 of the proposed academies will be brought forward in an effort to retain teachers in the city. According to today’s report in the Sentinel – there are new plans as follows:

Shutting Blurton High and Trentham High in August 2010 ““ a year earlier than originally envisaged ““ to make way for an academy. The new school, sponsored by The Ormiston Trust, would operate from the existing buildings until a brand new building is ready in 2012.

Closing St Peter’s C of E High in Penkhull and Berry Hill High in summer 2010 ““ two years ahead of schedule. They would both feed into a new Church of England-sponsored academy opening in September that year. It would be a split-site school initially, with a new building in Fenton completed two years later.

Replacing Brownhills Maths and Computing College in Tunstall with an academy in August 2011, a year earlier than planned. Burslem-based Co-operative Travel is being lined up as the sponsor.

The other two academies, at Park Hall and Chell, are still on course to open in 2011.

Roger Ibbs is quoted as saying these changes are “in the best interests of staff and students”.

Now as someone involved in the closure of Longton High School, I can certainly concur with the fact that all the uncertainty surrounding the BSF process has led to many teachers leaving employment in the city, not only at Longton High, but at many other schools as well. However, don’t these changes to the proposals, even if they are only date changes, mean that people have been slightly misled? What about the consultation process? I am all for providing more certainty for staff, and my particular concern, the kids of the city and the standard of education they receive, so any action to increase the certainty of BSF has got to be welcomed, but it does raise a number of questions and issues for debate.

The BNP are on record on this site as stating that they would give the £230+ million back to the government rather than build academies and follow the government plan for BSF in Stoke, and personally I think this is a ludicrious idea. But on the other hand, is there a possibility that these plans are being “railroaded” through and do we need to take a breath and take stock?

Parents are obviously concerned about these BSF proposals, and each new report brings different concerns and more issues for parents, teachers, students to think about.

I think it’s time for the council to communicate fully the final details of the BSF process, which schools will be affected when, how it affects staff, students and the local community, and let’s have a masterplan which everyone can sign up to and we all know what happens when, where, and how.

Is that too much to ask?