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Strims
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Posts: 5


« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2010, 10:59:36 AM »

The borough has to consult each year on it's admissions arrangements and the arrangements then have to published by 15th April

The consultation for admissions in September 2011 (so current year 5) closed on 28th February - just a week ago. It has already been removed from the borough's website.  Although I haven't seen it I think it can safely be assumed that this consultation included the exact same designated areas as this year.  I strongly suggest that all schools and all parents (certainly all Key Stage 2 Parents) write to the borough's admission team and the local councillors objecting to the designated areas.  This needs to happen sooner rather than later as the Cabinet Meeting at which this will be agreed is 25th March.  At the meeting on 4th March it was suggested that petitions be raised but personally I feel strongly worded personal letters will have more weight.

Susan
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Bagheera
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Posts: 313

e tenebris lux


« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2010, 04:27:12 PM »

I agree with Strims on the need to make individual complaints.

Apart from anything else, individual complaints require individual responses whereas petitions can normally be dealt with by some kind of press release.

It forces the council to go over the same ground again and again.

The manner in which the consultation was was carried out would seem to be grounds for complaint.

For those who have children directly affected this year, though, you MUST get you appeal up and running first.




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BioTappedIn
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Posts: 7


« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2010, 11:08:46 AM »

What a mess! This does not affect me as, fortunately, my kids are already at secondary school. But for somebody who has been thinking that maybe, just maybe he might vote Conservative for a change (once maybe) Ö that line of thought has been brought to an abrupt stop! 

In an election year (of all years) letís see how well the central Conservative party manage the present situation.  None of this Ďlocal government is independentí rubbish otherwise what is the point of Party Politics.  This sort of mess reflects directly on the Conservative Party, if you canít sort out school catchments how do you expect to run the economy or set education policy?

Itís fine to have a set of rules but if you realise during the implementation of those rules that they are flawed then why not re-evaluate? Why stick with rules that obviously arenít working?  6% to 24% dissatisfied, are we to be told that we canít trust the statistics?   

Business would not tolerate such incompetency. I hope that this fiasco is sorted out, that some consideration is given to children and parents affected and that common sense prevails.  As far as Iím concerned the resolution of this matter is a good guide to the management skills of the Conservative Party, in this way it becomes one of Ďmyí election issues. Come on Theresa May, get stuck in there.
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Pongo
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Posts: 298


« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2010, 04:10:51 PM »

BioTappedIn you are absolutely right, the whole process was flawed. Firstly they send out a consultation under the heading Building Schools For The Future Consultation, nothing about change to areas. No wonder there was a small number returned as most people did not realise it was there, just one page at the end with a lot of text before it, so it looked like the questionnaire had finished. http://www.rbwm.gov.uk/public/ed_bsf_consultation_maidenhead_form.pdf

Of the 539 responses only 484 were accepted for analysis. WHY were so many rejected, over 10%? Also how many consultations were sent out? I notice none of the Cookham schools seem to have replied, as they must have thought it did not refer to them.

The three schools that did reply asked for the proposed changes to be modelled to see the impact, this did not happen.

I would have thought anybody in their right mind would realise that the new designated areas being the main criteria for entry would block out the rural areas north of Maidenhead as being too far away from their closest school, so they would have to go to a school over five miles away instead. The allocation criteria is now wrong and needs to be changed if they want to keep the new areas.
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Joni
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Posts: 37


« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2010, 08:11:39 PM »

I was shocked to read the minutes of the meeting at which the decision was taken. It seems that everyone was opposed to the change being implemented apart from one councillor - and he's not one with responsibilities for overseeing schools/education/children's issues. Why on earth did his opinion over-rule the opinions of others with far better judgement? He may well have shot himself in the foot as he represents the Riverside ward - no kids in his area will have a hope in hell of getting into Furze Platt now.
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Bagheera
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Posts: 313

e tenebris lux


« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2010, 10:47:39 PM »

I think it will be good if people can get comments to the council about the situation in time for this year's decision - so we can avoid a repeat of the disaster that has just been visited on the children of the village (and other areas like Holyport).

If people like BioTappedIn could also comment, that would be helpful.

The email address is school.admissions@rbwm.gov.uk
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aoliver
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Posts: 2


« Reply #21 on: March 07, 2010, 11:22:42 PM »

It is not about how it can be better next time but how we can rectify this travesty that they are trying to impose on our children, to do it right now and also to understand he background of how such a ridiculous situation could be contrived.
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Bagheera
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Posts: 313

e tenebris lux


« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2010, 05:11:54 PM »

It is not about how it can be better next time but how we can rectify this travesty that they are trying to impose on our children, to do it right now and also to understand he background of how such a ridiculous situation could be contrived.

It is about both.  We need to protect this year's Year 5 and beyond as well as rescuing Year 6.

Cookham Dean School has sent home a letter today explaining what to do. If other parents (or interested parties) want to know more, then say so!
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 05:14:08 PM by Bagheera » Logged
turnip
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« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2010, 08:31:26 PM »

Could it be that all the new homes, both in Cookham, and especially Maidenhead, have added to the shortage of school places? They keep knocking out flats and high density mini estates in back gardens everywhere and then wonder where the children are going to be schooled. This is without dear old Mr Shanly's 400+ homes ghetto in Blackamoor Lane coming to your neighbourhood soon..... Yes, they provide developers contributions for privilege of putting up their poorly built expensive "Executive Homes" but this does not result in new schools or improvements to the existing ones. Bad planning, bad foresight, bad management, bad everything....sums this country up. They just keep cramming in more and more and to hell with the consequences........
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lizzyk
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Posts: 307


« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2010, 07:06:08 PM »

It looks as if Cookham Rise School had 51.5% of children allocated their first choice of secondary school this year. Last year we are told the Borough gave 94% of children their first choice. I cannot believe this appalling situation has that much to do with housing, as not that much has been built in the last year.
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Bagheera
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Posts: 313

e tenebris lux


« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2010, 12:32:30 PM »

Of course it doesn't Lizzy.

The council deliberately chose to do no risk assessment before changing the system, in defiance of advice that it should not and the fact that any reasonable person would do.

That is a bit like crossing the road but making a conscious decision to do so without checking there is nothing coming.

It was a reckless decision.
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MJ Saunders
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Posts: 27


« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2010, 02:53:22 PM »

I agree with many of these concerns and just in case my public statement hasn't got to readers here via other routes :

To the Maidenhead Advertiser, cookham.com and the Heads & Governing Bodies of the Cookham Primary Schools : March 8th.

The unforeseen mess in Secondary School places for Cookham children demands clarity and immediate action. Those who can solve the problem all agree that it is unacceptable for around a third of the children not to go to the school they expected and for some to have been left on waiting lists.  Last week, I joined embattled Heads of Cookham Primary Schools to add my apology and a commitment to try to put it right for children this year and in the future.

Any Cookham parent not satisfied with their childís secondary place should immediately contact the Council to check they are on the waiting lists for their preferred schools and also go to cookham.com for clear guidance on how to appeal.  We cannot be certain that the solution pursued by me, Cllr Richard Kellaway and others will deliver, so please do this now.

This mess comes from a consultation early last year.  It is alleged that the consultation run by the Councilís management was flawed and did not comply with the rules.  I fully support the recommendation from Cllr James Evans and his Scrutiny Panel that the decision should have been deferred for more analysis.  This was ignored, along with the request of the secondary schools for a full prediction of the impact, including on children in Cookham.  I am told this was not done following advice from management.  Only 39% of the responses to the consultation drove the decision, because they were simply the largest voice and apparently could not be ignored.  This was despite the absence of many expected responses and despite the suggestion that the impact was not clear and was easily misunderstood.

The Councilís management appears not to have advised schools of the likely impact following the decision.  This left Cookham Head Teachers to reasonably assume that children would continue to feed into Furze Platt and Newlands, as they have largely done for years.  Unknown to parents this would change significantly and their secondary place applications were sent in believing all was well.  The bespoke cycle track from Cookham and a one stop rail journey were expected to continue to take children safely and easily to Furze Platt, without the need for messy multiple car journeys.

Early this year, the pile of Cookham applications unlikely to get into the parentsí preferred school must have grown high on someoneís desk.  Did management highlight the obvious distortion ?  Did they contact schools to tell them it was going wrong ?  Did they start planning a solution ?  It is suggested that the rules prevented management telling anyone, not even Councillors, in case it prompted unwanted appeals.  The result looks like around 30 appeals from Cookham alone.

Half of the children from funded schools in the whole of Maidenhead & Windsor who failed to get their preferred school appear to come from Cookham.  And half of the same children not yet told their school also appear to come from Cookham.  This could not have targeted the people I represent better if it had been planned to upset them.

I am asked to put all this anger to one side and focus on solving the problem.  I agree, but please can those who managed this mess spare a thought for the unhappy children, because they deserved better.

Let us all focus on how to tell the public meeting at Moor Hall on March 16th that all these children will have a fair chance to get to the schools they expected.  If necessary, we should build more class rooms at our preferred schools and give an absolute priority to the education of our next generation.  The action now being taken has my full support.  Cookham is expecting this management mess to be sorted. Please can we demonstrate how smart leadership and determined effort can put government red tape firmly in its place and put our children first.

Cllr Michael-John Saunders & Cookham Rise Primary School Governor
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Bagheera
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Posts: 313

e tenebris lux


« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2010, 05:47:42 PM »

The decision to ignore the recommendation from the scrutiny panel, and from Furze Platt Senior School and from two other secondary schools was reckless.

It was not a slip, it was a deliberate decision to totally disregard the risk.  Councillor Quick's report to the cabinet on 26 March 2009 says under "risk assessment", simply that no detailed modelling has been done.

Her report to the cabinet on 23 October 2008 says it would mean going through three years figures and might not produce meaningful results because of "parental volatility".

I am not sure what she meant by "parental volatility" then but I think she probably has a different definition now!
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MJ Saunders
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Posts: 27


« Reply #28 on: March 19, 2010, 04:55:51 PM »

Despite being from the party I represent, Cllr Quick is far from being my flavour of the month, as my comments in the Advertiser will have made abundantly clear.  She will eat her fair share of the blame for how we got into the mess we did, but in the spirit of fairness which was our mantra at the public meeting on March 16th, it is not fair to slam her for things which she did not do.  I have secured detailed explanations from the Councillors and the Council Staff involved and I believe I know what happened about the need for modelling the effects of the changes.

The Scrutiny Panel and Secondary School Heads recommended that the changes be deferred until the impact could be modelled.  The Council Admissions Team and Cllr Quick examined the changes and decided it was not right to model the complex changes when they could not predict how parents preferences for schools would change year to year.  Their explanation is correct, but with heinsight misguided.  The impact could have been modelled assuming that parents preferences would not change, even though the results would have been qualified to this important effect. 

It was also clear there would be some disadvantage to Cookham children.  The 30 or so children who were disadvantaged (out of around 90) was bigger than the Council Admissions Team and everyone else expected.  Was the scale of the problem obvious ?  It should have been, but it wasn't.  Cllr Quick offers us a tricky Catch-22.  If it was obvious to her and she deliberately ignored it, then the Admissions Team can suggest it was equally obvious to everyone in Cookham, and we rightly feel we were misled by the consultation. 

It feels best to leave the consultation and analysis where we did at the public meeting.  As the Director of Children's Services put in writing to me last wek, ďI agree it is unlikely that respondents from Cookham were able to interpret the implications for themĒ.  That's all there is to it.  It was a c*** up.

MJ Saunders RBWM Councillor for Cookham and local schools governor and activist
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Bagheera
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Posts: 313

e tenebris lux


« Reply #29 on: March 21, 2010, 09:35:22 AM »

That's all there is to it.  It was a c*** up.

It would have been better if they had just said so at the meeting and told us what they were going to do about it rather than trying to shift the blame and making us all more angry.
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