Cookham Discussion Board

General Category => Secondary Schools Boundary Change => Topic started by: lizzyk on March 05, 2010, 02:07:31 PM

Title: Help to Parents
Post by: lizzyk on March 05, 2010, 02:07:31 PM
Susan Rimmer has written two excellent documents one on a Parents Guide to Appeals and the second on the
Consultation Process for Admissions for the Royal Borough, which I think people will find really useful. Also Parish Councillor Fiona Hewer has documented how the decision to change the boundaries was made, which makes fascinating reading. They can all be seen on the website at (

Also there will be a meeting for all interested parties at Moor Hall on Tuesday 16 March at 7.30pm. Everyone welcome.

Title: Re: Help to Parents
Post by: Strims on March 05, 2010, 03:43:09 PM
An excellent piece by Fiona - thank you.  Just to add that as we pursue the "political" strand to our campaign that we should ask what the imperative was to make the change so quickly and without the recommended modelling?  I am not sure if this has been "captured" anywhere yet but take a look at this document presented at a cabinet meeting in Oct 2008 where Councillor Quick outlined the proposal:  (

A key point in this document is:

3.1.30   A second concern is that no detailed modelling of the effect of these options has been undertaken. The likely impact of the options above has been assessed on the basis of experience of the admissions system and local knowledge. It has not been possible to statistically model the impact of these changes as this would require the secondary transfer process for the past three years to be run again to show what would have happened if the proposed arrangements had been in place then. Besides, given the volatility of parental preference there is no guarantee that this more detailed modelling would result in a better understanding of the impact of any changes.

Bearing in mind for the last 3 years all the allocations etc have been computerised surely this could not have been a difficult exercise (although possibly time consuming).

The recoomendation of this report was:

3.1.37   The Royal Borough should include within its wider consultation on secondary school provision and BSF in Maidenhead specific questions about designated areas, thereby avoiding the need to run two separate consultation exercises. This would then allow the Royal Borough to either proceed with interim changes to the designated areas or to delay any changes until they could be incorporated within the BSF, following consideration of the outcome of the consultation. Any interim changes to the designated areas could be made as part of the process around the annual consultation on the Royal Borough’s admissions arrangements.

Title: Re: Help to Parents
Post by: MJ Saunders on March 15, 2010, 12:08:23 PM
As one of the local activists on the Cookham schools fiasco and an RBWM Councillor for Cookham, my initial interrogation of these issues has uncovered a worrying story of over enthusiastic politicians seeking to implement a change they appeared to genuinely believe was in the interests of children across Maidenhead and of over pragmatic advice and regulated inertia from RBWM staff in the making and implementation of the changes.

When such a disaster breaks it is predictable, although frustrating, that those responsible will be quick to review what they did, how they did it and whether it leaves them open to challenges - both rational and objective, and less rational and emotive.  It took a week for the facts to start to emerge, adding much needed clarity to the blizzard of documents already on the public record and accessible through  We have now moved from the initial phase of people saying nothing to now offering a wide range of views and memories of how things occurred.  At the moment, these do not match up, unless you squint very carefully and give all involved the benefit of the doubt. Something the people of Cookham rightly feel they don't deserve.

Above all this three things are certain :

1. Before the current admissions process starts to crystallise in the next 2 weeks, we should focus on supporting anyone (regardless of how blackened they are perceived) who is self evidently working to solve the problem and ignore all those rushing to score cheap political points.  Frankly, if all those Councillors and RBWM Staff with a hand on or near the steering wheel to date are ruled untrustworthy, the solutions will grind to a halt, satisfying no one except political opponents who seek office in future elections.

2. The failures of most relevance to the upcoming Appeals to get Cookham children to their preferred & closest secondary schools are the breaks in process by RBWM staff which did not comply with relevant regulations, not the omission of the Cabinet to overlook the impact on Cookham, the scale of which has surprised the RBWM staff who managed the process.

3. The various breaks in due process and sound judgement, by whoever, which have got us in the mess (and the apparent delays in crafting credible solutions and communicating them to affected parents) deserve serious review and possibly formal investigation.  As the Lead Chair of the Scrutiny Panels at RBWM, I assure you that this will be done ... but it may be best to get those who need to explain themselves to solve the problem first rather than focusing them on how to word their defences.   Those who redeem themselves may perhaps (only perhaps) deserve our acknowledgement ?

I am pleased to have been able to correct the misleading suggestions by Cllr Fiona Hewer and other political opponents that I was involved in and partly responsible for the fiasco.  I wasn't ... and it is with great regret that I was as misled as Cllr Hewer and others on the impact on Cookham. 

Please focus on solving the problem first ... and those who want to can then start a fight.

MJ Saunders- local activist on the schools fiasco and RBWM Councillor for Cookham.