Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SOS (Save Our Schools) for Swanage

Dorset County Council last week announced their intention to collapse the current 3-tier system of schools in Purbeck to 2-tiers. They have given local residents until just February 25th to raise objections to these proposals.

For Swanage this will force the closure of the increasingly thriving Middle School, of St Marks First School and of Swanage First School.

From age 11 all Swanage children will be forced to make a 20 mile daily round trip to an enlarged Secondary School in Wareham. How many parents will still view Swanage as a viable place to raise their children and what will this do to the future of Swanage as a sustainable community ?

Pupils of the two threatened first schools will have to drive across town to a new large Primary school that DCC propose to build on the Middle School site (where access and parking are already a major problem).

This, together with equivalent closures of the other 3 Middle schools in the area, will cost at least £75 million but save just £400k per year (these are DCC figures), a payback of 188 years. Council Tax bills will doubtless bear the brunt of this cost for many years to come.

The fastest way to express your views on this is to complete DCC's online feedback questionnaire at www.dorsetforyou.com/purbeckreview (click on the “Future school provision in the Purbeck area questionnaire” link at the left hand side of the screen). You can also read their full proposals here.

An on-line petition to fight the closures has been set up at http://www.petition.co.uk/no_to_2-tier_system

Also you can email your views to purbeckreview@dorsetcc.gov.uk and Cllr Hiett is said to be keen to hear local residents' views on this matter at d.w.hiett@dorsetcc.gov.uk

DCC have arranged just one public meeting in Swanage to discuss their plans, on Wednesday 28th January, 7.30pm at Swanage Bay View Caravan Park.

Please help make sure everyone in Swanage is aware of the threat to our schools and of the urgent need to make their views known before February 25th !



Posted by Anonymous to swanageview at 9:24 AM

164 comments:

The Postman said...

Please sign to help save our Purbeck Schools

Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 8:18 AM
Subject: On line petition

An on line petition has been set up to enable supporters to express their opposition to proposals in Purbeck review.

http://www.petition.co.uk/no_to_2-tier_system


Cheers

Dave

Anonymous said...

Whilst I have no problem with signing this, a petition only counts as one comment.

Please reply in person as well.

Write a letter of concern/complaint/question to

purbeckreview@dorsetcc.gov.uk


And/or fill out the online questionnaire.

http://www.dorsetforyou.com/media/swf/t/p/purbeck_review_future_schools_provision.htm

Anonymous said...

Hereś my reply - please bear in mind that the 2 tier system doesn´t bother me too much.


If the 2 tier system is instigated, why not maintain the central position of Swanage First?

i.e. move St Marks to the Mount Scar site.

¨Parents will get more rights, more choice, better support, and a bigger say. Parents will be able to ask for new schools to be set up to reflect local need and demand. Local Authorities will be duty bound to consider them as part of their role to promote choice, diversity and fair access and use the record capital investment we are making to build them. Where local authorities refuse to take this new duty seriously, the Secretary of State will not hesitate in using her powers to intervene, including where necessary making sure capital is made available for well-founded proposals. Where central government makes funding available, it will consider the implications for future local government settlements¨.

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2005_0124

That´s what the Gov´t say. Not me, although I do agree.

They also say this

¨The local authority role has been changing from that of running schools to one where they act in the community interest to ensure there are enough good schools in their area. But their role has not been as well-defined as it should be. We believe that a good local authority should champion the interests of its parents and pupils and that means ensuring a good and diverse range of local schools, with better access for those from poorer families. We also want to see more schools enjoying extra freedoms: so it makes sense that new schools should automatically have them, but existing schools should decide for themselves¨.

http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page8574

As for choice - Catholic or C of E?

¨Churchgoing in the UK

In the past when life had fewer distractions people measured Church attendance on a weekly basis, but today regular Churchgoing is often measured as those that go at least once a month. A report on "Churchgoing in the UK" published by Tearfund in April 2007 shows that 15% go to Church at least once a month¨.

http://www.whychurch.org.uk/trends.php

The other 85%? What about them?

Your own publication says that the new school will ¨have the faith of St Marks (C of E) but the ethos of Swanage First¨.

How do you explain that?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to include

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/where-faith-schools-are-the-only-schools-1332019.html

and just in case

http://tinyurl.com/8uyoy8

By the way - Hannah, don´t look so glum!

Anonymous said...

I realise that there are strong feelings amongst the First schools about the relative merits of one approach versus another. However that is a debate that should only be entered into once the current proposals for switching from 3-tier to 2-tier are rejected.

DCC's consultation is a simple "all or nothing" question : should Purbeck go to 2-tier or not ? What we MUST do is focus on the big picture, set aside all local inter-school rivalry and single-mindedly reject the current proposals.

If DCC see a big enough groundswell of opinion rejecting their plans as they stand their only option will be to set aside the current proposals and start a much broader consultation process as to what to do instead (they seem wedded to the view that the current status-quo is not sustainable, but that too is a future question).

Nothing will please DCC more than for debate in Swanage to be split locally over what they will brush off as "secondary implementation issues". What is the point in fighting amongst ourselves if meanwhile DCC win the war ?

Please let all 5 Swanage schools sing with a single voice "Save Our Schools !"

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone want to keep the three tier system? It has been or is being abandoned by most LEAs that used it for a number of very good reasons which are there for all to see.

What grounds does anyone have for thinking that the decline in the number of pupils will be reversed? Agaiin it issomething that is happening generally and nothing suggests Purbeck will go the other way. PDC's opposition to more than a handful of new homes being built in Swanage each year will ensure young families continue to have to live elsewhere because they cannot afford it here. The low quality of the roads and public transport to employment centres again mitigate against people with families living here. All very undesirable but we cannot blind ourselvesto the realities. The real argument is over whether DCC will have the guts to take on the church and insist on closing one of the church schools so that we can continue to have a viable county primary or whether they will continue to cave in as they look like doing.

Anonymous said...

There is clearly a lengthy debate to be had (if DCC's current plan can be blocked) over what the future model for schools in and around Swanage ought best to be.

I don't pretend to know enough about education to have all the answers, but I do know that a plan that closes 3 out of the 4 schools in the town, forces the 4th to move site and requires the building of another new one, makes no sense. Especially when the result is that 50% of current First School pupils will have to be driven across the town each day and 50% of current Middle School pupils will have to be bussed 20 miles a day to & from Wareham !

We should learn from the experience of Blandford, shared with me by their DCC Councillor Barrie Cooper :
"Thank you for your email about the proposals for the Purbeck schools. I represent Blandford on DCC and, against local opinion and myself as local member, DCC decided to change from 3 to 2 tier. This was 5 years ago and we are still waiting for the new premises promised then to be built. The disruption for the pupils and staff has been considerable. I wish you luck."

Anonymous said...

The real tragedy here is not the closure of two schools in buildings that are unfit for 21st century education but the fact that Swanage could miss out on a brand new school fit for the future. People need to look beyond their own little castles and think about what is best for all the children of Swanage and not what is best for one particular school however 'outstanding' it was two years ago.

Anonymous said...

I agree, and at the risk of incurring the wrath of the ‘SOS’ campaigners I wish to offer a view on why I think that a proposed new primary school in Swanage is a good idea. At the outset I would say that I would be willing to accept that the status of the new school should be a Community one.

Whether we like it or not financial and educational considerations in this matter are intertwined. The financial case for moving from a three tier to a two tier structure in Purbeck is overwhelming. If we retain a three tier system there is a real risk that our children will receive a poorly funded education in the years to come potentially leading to poor exam results and in turn greatly reduced career prospects in a very competitive world. This is a chance that I do not want to take.

A total of £9 million has been allocated in the review to build a new Swanage Primary School. This is a once in a generation opportunity to obtain a new state of the art school fit for the 21st Century – the detailed design of which we can influence. Faced with the choice I think that our children should be allowed to grasp this opportunity. What right do we have to effectively say to our children (and perhaps eventually our grandchildren) “Sorry you had a chance to have a modern school in 2009 but we thought you could make do with the old Victorian schools?” Is there not even the slightest risk that we are being sentimental here rather than forward looking? Please take the time to have a look at Lytchett Matravers Primary School (Ofsted report “outstanding”) for a good example of what a new school can be like.

All first school children in Swanage currently have to attend the Herston site (currently Middle School) once they reach the age of nine. Yes, there are genuine environmental and road safety concerns about reducing the age that they have to do this but these can potentially be overcome, for example through much improved road access to the school, traffic calming measures and even the provision of dedicated mini buses.

I don’t expect to convince everyone here but I think that we should at least seriously consider a new school rather than reject it impulsively as many parents are now being encouraged to do.

For the avoidance of doubt please note that I am a local parent and not a County Council employee - nor am I related to one.

16/01/09

local girl said...

I would like to praise the 3 tier system as I went through it here in Swanage and then Wareham. I achieved 10 high grade o levels and 2 A levels and went onto achieve professional qualifications. My husband did the same and has a good professional job with good wage.

I implore people to stick together and have a united front against changing our schools without rigorous planning first , taking the ideas of parents and children first. Has anyone asked the children??
In Swanage which is effectively cut off from Purbeck we are a unique case. Our children deserve the right not to have to be ferried to Wareham and back each day at age 11. Can anyone remember the recent trouble on the school buses which i believe led to a child being hospitalised with a head injury.!!!!

Our first schools in Swanage must be saved. Small schools lead to grounded and socially complete children. If they were to close the children would have less opportunity to visit the hospital, old age housing, visit the museum and beach trips for Summer treats.

Less parents would offer to help in schools as the location would be too far away to walk with ease.

Anonymous said...

The £9 million has not been ALLOCATED but suggested. The money available is entirely dependent on DCC receiving adequate finance from the Building Schools For The Future grant. If they don't get this, they cannot remodel Purbeck School to accommodate years 7 and 8 and the whole project is in jeopardy. Given that the Commons Schools Select Committee has stated the programme could be "curtailed" and that the Government have urged councils to prepare for a "much more austere future", there is no guarantee that the money will be available. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/4142121/Schools-told-to-plan-for-austere-future.html

The alternative may well be a 'remodelled' Middle School building which (as it was built as a Secondary School)would be most unsuitable for educating children from the age of 4.

Furthermore, the Blandford reorganisation has been a mess. 5 years after a change to a two tier system has resulted in massive disruption for the pupils during the interim period, with many being inadequately housed. Building and remodelling of The Blandfors (secondary) school so that the Middle School may be vacated has only just begun.
http://www.dorsetforyou.com/index.jsp?articleid=390661

In addition, the cost of building can escalate out of control and the local tax payer could end up picking up the bill. This has happened with QE School in Wimborne. Dorset County Council's contribution towards the rebuild of Queen Elizabeth School has skyrocketed by 488% from £3.960 million to £19.335 million.
http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/search/3846626.So_are_they_Queen_Elizabeth___s_fools_/

The public needs to start asking questions about the financial viablity of this whole exercise. The idea of a brand new school sounds great in principle. In practice it will mean enormous disruption and possibly vast expense with no guarantee that our children will realy benefit from the change. Yes, future generations may have new buildings to learn in but at what cost for the children currently in the education system in Purbeck? Are we prepared to sacrifice the education of our current generation to achieve this fairytale?

Anonymous said...

Re: Post 1:03
If the Mount Scar building is unfit for 21st Century, why does the proposal mention moving St.Mary's to the site?

If the Victorian buildings of St Mark's and Swanage First (Mount Scar)are inadequate, then how are the old buildings of St. George's, Corfe Castle and Stoborough any more fit for the 21st Century?

How will equity of provision be maintained between all of the new Primary schools? It won't be a level playing field.

Thankfully my children are old enough now not to be affected by the changes. But I would have been concerned at sending any of them to a 2000 pupil secondary school having been educated in a tiny Primary with a maximum of 15 pupils per year. What a culture shock it will be for those children moving from very small schools like Corfe straight to Purbeck without a Middle School to bridge the gap.

Anonymous said...

We need to maintain diversity of educational choice in our town. Sentimentality is not what is urging Swanage First School to remain on its site, it is at the heart of the Community which is where a Community School needs to be.
The Faith schools also have a right to remain.
The Council need to rethink these plans rather than rush them through without consulting the whole town.

Anonymous said...

The only way to maintain diversity of provision and choice may well be to keep a community school at Mount Scar. If a new school is proposed at the Middle School site, there will be a resulting competition between DCC and Salisbury Diocese to run the school. Dorset Local Authority believe that the diocese would win such a competition. If DCC fail to put forward a strong enough case for a Community school (call me sceptical but I think thi is likely) then the school's adjudicator could well rule in favour of the new school being a Church of England Voluntary Aided School.
Unfortunately, in the Government's aim of creating a wider range of faith schools (ie, Muslim schools in inner city areas) they have produced legislation that does not help.
Swanage First school are not anti-faith. They teach RE in much the same way as any other school in Swanage. They attend church services.
The supporters of Swanage First school are not anti-faith. They are pro choice and it is an important enough factor in sufficient enough numbers of people to warrant keeping diversity of provision, I believe.
This is not a sentimental argument.

Anonymous said...

DCC say that the basis of the review lies in reducing surplus places. Other local authorities have found alternative ways of managing the surplus places issue. It is not a problem confined to Dorset.

The method used to calculate surplus places is based on a school's net capacity. Since the Government altered the method for calculating this, more and more schools have been assessed as having surplus places. The Government have set targets on reducing the number of surplus places, forcing councils to act.

One solution that has been used in some authorites (E.G. Thameside and Derbyshire) is to change the use of some spare rooms in schools into spaces to be used by the Community (Adult and community learning facilities, skills facilities, parent/community rooms,etc).

'School governors may determine part of the school premises to be used for childcare facilities,
family learning rooms, health or social care rooms or adult and community learning facilities.
Where governors establish such facilities or services, the Local Education Authorities may
designate them as an excluded area for the purposes of the net capacity assessment.'

If there genuinely is enough money available it seems perfectly feasible to look towards enhancing the facilities available for the wider community, reduce surplus places and keep our schools open.
Some things to think about.....something which DCC has done very little of (thinking, that is). They need to be made to rethink the proposal and come up with something better for Swanage and Purbeck.

Anonymous said...

The three level system is past its sell by date. Everybody is giving it up. Why should going to what is in fact an average size comp. be such a problem for 11 year olds here when the vast amjority or the nations children do it?

Several people have commented on small children having to go a mile to the middle school site from the town centre but conversely there are many Swanage first pupils who live nearer to the middle than to mount scar and whose journeys would be shortened. Don't they count?

Anonymous said...

Of course there are several pupils for whom the Middle School site is closer. Their parents have their own reasons for choosing to attend a school in the centre of town rather than one in Herston or Langton. There are also significant numbers of pupils who live nearer to Mount Scar. There will be some who live too far away to be able to walk to either site.
There are others I know of who live towards Ulwell and drive to school in poor weather but take the opportunity to walk along our beautiful beach to school when it's fine. The walk to Middle School is not quite the same.

Being in the heart of Swanage has more benefits for other reasons though. It enables pupils to walk easily to the beach and Durlston Country Park, and to visit the ambulance and fires stations as part of their topic work for example. It also means that they can walk to sing to the elderly in the Day Centre, sheltered housing and residential homes. This is something which the Mount Scar pupils have been doing for over 20 years and the elderly residents really do appreciate. It teaches children community values and respect for those older than them.
As the school is located within walking distance of many families, there is a thriving group of parents who give up their time to work in the school gardens too. The next garden makeover is on 14th February if you are interested in coming to find out a bit more of the community spirit at Mount Scar. There was an extremely well attended memories afternoon this Friday too. It really was wonderful to see so many past and present pupils sharing their experiences.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the pupils who live closer to the Middle School choose to attend Mount Scar because it is a community school and they prefer this to a church school. Another reason to keep a community school at Mount Scar as a primary. As previously said, there is no guarantee that a new school will be a community school. In fact it seems highly likely that it won't unless enough people insist that that is what they want.

Anonymous said...

# 27 January 2009 at 6.30pm: Parents meeting at Swanage First School

# 28 January 2009 at 7.30pm: Swanage Town Meeting at Swanage Bay View (Vista Bar)

See you there.

anon said...

Parent meeting at St. Mark's School on 22nd January at 7 p.m. in the School Hall.

Refreshements and free childcare available at this meeting.

Public Consultation at Swanage Bay Caravan Park on 28th January at 7.30 p.m.

Please come along and have your say.

Anonymous said...

The public needs to start asking questions about what building construction will be needed at Purbeck School and where the kids will be housed while it is going on. In Blandford children have been housed in unsatisfactory accommodation for too long. If they need to rebuild large parts of Purbeck School, where will the kids go while it's being done? Temporary classrooms on the field? Is there enough space? I keep hearing parents say it won't affect their kids because they will have left Middle School by 2011/12. Oh yes it will if they are at Purbeck. All age groups will face disruption!

Anonymous said...

Won't the Govt be worrying about how to pay for the Olympics by 2012? As well as bailing out banks and propping up the economy. Will there be enough money left in the pot for building new schools?

Anonymous said...

The grammar school site would be ideal for a new communty secondary school for local pupils providing a hi tech 21st century education. I feel if we are to have 2 tier schooling then we need our children back. Let's no longer send our children away to be educated. Let's have them here in our communty.

Anonymous said...

Grammar School - oh please!

Itś in private ownwership, so DCC would have to buy it back, then knock it down and do a complete rebuild.

QE is costing £50 million - how much more than that would this be?

Please remember, DCCs education budget is finite.

Anonymous said...

The whole community needs to speak-not everyone will agree but those of us who want the best for our children need to work as one.The current proposal must be rejected so that a cohesive argument can be prepared and taken up by ALL schools and interested parties concerned.

Anonymous said...

We need to galvanise the whole town.People will support issues if they feel they will be affected by change-that's human nature. A large proportion of the town may feel shrug their shoulders and say that they have no children or their's have grown up. To those people we need to say-we need to keep families in Swanage. Their children as they grow up will be the doctors, nurses, bin men, bus drivers , shop assistants and council tax payers who will keep our town alive. We must make our argument relevant to these folks-look how we influenced the tip, outpatients at the hospital and the day centre.

Anonymous said...

Many look back on the days if Swanage Grammar School with affection. Its an interesting reflection at the gasps of horror at bussing 11 year olds over to Purbeck School to recall that at least half the GS pupils got here by train and had to walk from the station to the school to say nothing of having had a long walk at the other end unless they happened to live near a railway station. Getting on a bus that takes you into the school from near your home hardly seems a great hardship by comparism.

Anonymous said...

Agree that the schools need to try and unite,rather than just trying to save their own bacon. Sick of hearing about poor Mount Scar, it affects all our schools, all of which are brilliant. Mount Scar is no better or special than the rest. The actual building is irrrelevant we should focus more on how this is going to affect our childrens education.
As for transport issues-far too many parents drive their kids to school un-necessarily. edicirtaroier rt hcoll

Anonymous said...

Bussing 11 year olds isn't a hardship. It's a disgrace when we are supposed to be working towards a sustainable future. Walking is preferable! If we can get the GS site back( the owners are desparate to sell) then we really can have something special here, a school for THIS community not for the bean counters at county hall. we need this to give a future to thus town. We can't let it become a giant retirement home.

Anonymous said...

If you read the SOS website, you'll see that Mount Scar are actually opposing the proposal as a whole. Most people there support the middle schools and are questioning the very basis that the proposal is founded upon. They would very much like to unite and have asked other schools if they are interested in doing so. Not all of the first schools are interested in uniting though. Some think the proposal is not so bad for them and are happy to sit on the fence. Ask people at St Marks and St Marys what they think.

Anonymous said...

Many of the people at St. Mark's are keen to support a new school for Swanage, this could be so good for the town. It's sad that it seems to have generated so much negativity and division in the community.
It's also about sustaining future provision at the Purbeck school. what will the Mount Scar parents think when their children arrive there and find that the subjects they want to study are unavailable because there are insufficient teachers to deliver them?

We must consider what is best for all of Purbeck

Anonymous said...

It's not just Mount Scar parents arguing to keep the two tier system. I think you'll find that many parents across the whole of Purbeck from a range of first and middle schools have concerns about it. Even then, Mount Scar parents don't all share the same opinion (some can see the need to sustain Purbeck School and recognise that a 2 tier system MAY be necessary to do this). So, post 11:02, you can't level that question at Mount Scar. What the campaigners are trying to do is get DCC to rethink what primary school provision in Swanage could look like. This could be a new school, but not a CE one. It could even (dare I say it) be an amalgamation of St George's and St Marks which are both CE schools already up that end of town.
All of this will be imaterial when there is not enough money to pay for any of this anyway. What we really need to be concerned about is what will happen if the money dries up half way through the project and DCC has messed up the education of a whole generation. They don't even have enough money to finish paying for reorganisation of Blandford and Shaftesbury yet (they changed over in 2004/5). Ask yourself how the inept financial management of DCC will effect our future.

Anonymous said...

Lots of useful information here.
http://www.no2tierpurbeck.org/

Anonymous said...

Yet another school campaign and, as someone who was educated in a three tier system, I do have some sympathy here. However, if all the campaigners have their way there will be no changes to the existing school provision. Only a big increase in the availability of adult education and community facilities - but without any indication on whether the demand exists for this and how it would be financed. Unfortunately the numbers don’t stack up and, unlike places such as Broadstone and Wimborne, Purbeck just does not have the numbers of pupils to justify long term retention of the three tier system. Even Jim Knight MP has had to acknowledge this in his press release dated 20th January, see:

http://www.jimknightmp.com/purbeck_schools_review

Incidentally I think that it is deplorable that Mr Knight – the Schools Minister for heaven’s sake - has decided to go public with his views right in the middle of the public consultation. This will serve to totally undermine the LEA officials at the forthcoming public meetings. Not that there will be much sympathy for that scenario on this blog…….

The concept of St. George’s School merging with St. Mark’s School on the Middle School site does makes some sense in theory, particularly as many (most?) pupils at St. George’s live in Swanage. However, everyone involved at St. George’s is totally opposed to the idea. Whilst there is an argument that Herston is a separate area from Swanage it is not as clear cut as the status of the village of Langton Matravers. The residents and parish council in Langton are horrified at even the prospect of losing their village school. If there is ever to be a new primary school in Swanage then the largest first school in the town - Swanage First - needs to be a key player.

Anonymous said...

The Purbeck School is already large. Look at the recent league tables for Dorset and it already has the third highest number of pupils taking GCSEs.

But it is a lowly 17th for average GCSE achievement (and that's excluding private schools).

If the Purbeck School was outstanding the surplus places would begin to disappear. DCC are confusing the problem with the solution.

Paul Angel said...

I've noticed a few comments knocking Mount Scar for defending itself. Parents at Mount Scar want to continue to be able to bring their children to a town centre school that is non-denominational. There was a survey of parents and that is what the parents have said.

I have no argument against the idea of the glorious new school that DCC is going to magic out of nowhere, but I don't want it for my children, as I live in Swanage town centre along with most of Mount Scar parents and I have chosen a non-denominational school because, like the vast majority of Mount Scar parents, that is as important to me as a church education is to the parents of children at church schools.

So what are the other options? As a campaigner at Mount Scar I know that I and none of the other campaigners want to see any first school closed - we don't think it's necessary. But what do the other schools think? They won't tell us!

These are the questions I would personally like to see answered by the schools of St George's, St Mark's and St Mary's:

Do they think it's OK to force another Church school on parents who choose non-denominational education? Do they think it's OK to force us to take our kids away from town every day for their schooling, probably by car? Do they think it's OK for the Mount Scar site to be offered to St Marys as it's obviously perfect for a Primary school? Why won't the two CE schools talk to each other? What would be wrong with a federated CE school as in Lulworth and Winfrith? How can we work together to oppose a proposal if the other first schools won't be honest about their opinions?

Now, those are the things that I'd like answers to - the parents at these schools would probably like answers too!

Anonymous said...

Parents at St. Mark's are strongly in favour of a new school for Swanage, so are all the staff and governors.

Not all schools care to trumpet their opinions around the town and impose their assumptions on others.

I'd suggest, post 11.35 that you attend one of the parent meetings and listen to what John Nash and the LA are actually saying.

In terms of being honest, which Swanage school broke confidentiality and peddled alarmist and frankly insulting views about other schools before the consultation had even begun?

Paul Angel said...

Good for St Marks - that's clear and open.

I attended the meeting in Wareham and I've read every document relating to this proposal, including some accessed through the Freedom of Information Act. I am very well informed, thanks, and I think that the proposal is based on flawed surplus place figures, money that may not materialise, a desire for prestige buildings and a dangerous set of assumptions about the ability of buildings to raise standards.

Nash & Co want to impose a CE VA school on parents who want a non-denominational school. They want to build a new school for St Marks, which is great, but then they want to close the town centre school against the wishes of the staff, parents and governors. Not great. There are better, more sensible options. And this all assumes that the 2 tier system is a given.

Swanage First broke 'confidentiality' before Christmas precisely because the threat to the school was so great and the process to that point was leading in a divisive direction.

Swanage First is easy to for DCC to close because we don't have a diocese to stand up for us - this is why our Governors had to work so hard before Christmas to catch up with the information the CE and RC diocese had had for months and why the school put out a strong campaign so early in the process. Oh, and both diocese were heavily represented on the Review's Project Board too as well as the CE diocese being one of the 3 people appointed to write the Proposal document. Fair? I think not.

Had the consultation process been managed properly none of this would have been 'confidential' anyway, and all this mistrust between schools would have been avoided.

My point is that all the schools need to lay their cards on the table so that we can see exactly who has an interest and who doesn't. If 'anonymous' would like to let me know who he or she is I can share some of the documents I've accessed with them - not sure I can post them on this board but email me, you know who I am.

Anonymous said...

'Not all schools care to trumpet their opinions around the town and impose their assumptions on others. '

No, some schools are happy to sit back and see the closure of a successful and popular community school just because it's to their advantage.

Jeremy Harrison (head of St Mark's) was on the board deciding what would happen. The original proposal was for St Mark's to move to the middle school site, for Swanage First to close and all the children to move to St Mark's.

It's only because parents and governors at Swanage First protested quickly and loudly that we now find we get to 'have a say' over what any new school will be.

There is nothing alarmist or insulting about pointing out the fact that DCC proposes to close a school rated as outstanding by Ofsted to prop up one rated as satisfactory that is losing pupils to other schools. The law states that the local authority must look at standards when proposing to close a school. They have ignored this in both Swanage and Wool.

This is because the churches are deciding what happens, not parents.

Jeremy Harrison said...

There are three Dorset Headteachers on the board of the Purbeck Review.They include a middle school head and the head of a community school. Our task is to oversee the work of the Project Team.
We have no more influence over the proposals than any other headteacher. I think my colleagues would have noticed if I'd tried to unduly favour my own school.

This is a decision ultimately taken by The Project team of Rick Perry, John England etc. Our position always was, and is that we are happy to merge with any other school as ultimately our site cannot be converted into an adequate primary school.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you had no influence, Jeremy, but what exactly is the point of your overseeing the work of these people if they don't want input from headteachers? Who have they listened to?

And do you know why DCC chose Swanage First to join you? Surely St George's is a more ethical and practical choice - they have no room to expand either. And they will close sooner or later if a new school opens up just down the road

Anonymous said...

Fair enough Jeremy but you must concede that there was nobody on the review body representing the interests of the community schools in Swanage (Mount Scar and Middle). Mr Shepperd from the Salisbury Diocese (Anglican) and Mr Mannix from Plymouth Diocese (Catholic) represented the churches. Project board minutes show that Swanage First School was not even discussed in the most recent meeting in November. Why was nobody asking questions on behalf of Swanage First (Mount Scar) or looking after their interests? Because they had no representation!!

Jeremy Harrison said...

I think the decision to combine Swanage First and St. Mark's was a geniune desire by the LA to create a new school which would benefit the greatest number of children in the town.

At St. Mark's the governors were always ready to accept that this might have to be a community school but we wanted to preserve our church foundation if we could.

We need to find another site as we have insufficent land to convert to a primary school. It isn't simply a case of being too small either. Even in our current state we are still bigger than some of the proposed small primaries in the villages and, incidently larger than Lady St.Mary in Wareham which is staying open.

We certainly don't want to force anyone to amalgamate with us as this would not be the best start for a new school. A solution has to be found as we are too large to simply ignore or try to close.

I would like to point out that in over three years as Head we have only lost one pupil who was unhappy with the school and they moved to Wareham!

It's good to see the level of (mostly!) informed debate that is taking place on this blog as it can only be a good thing for everyone to be aware of the issues and concerns that other schools have.

Anonymous said...

For information, the community school head is the HT of Bovington First. A long way from Swanage.

Jeremy Harrison said...

Richard Holman, HT Purbeck Upper school, won't thank me for forgetting to say he is on the board of the Purbeck Review too.

I note the comments above but we were trying to ensure all phases were represented rather than geographic areas

Anonymous said...

The trouble is that Perry and Nash have this 'vision' of an expensive new school but they are trying to force it on people who are quite happy with what they have. Location, location, location.

If they had asked Swanage First parents they would have heard that and avoided all this. They didn't believe the governors and PA were representative and simply tried to keep them gagged. That was why it was better brought into the open.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, I didn't mean you were losing existing pupils, but you yourself pointed out to the Purbeck Review board that you have been losing potential pupils to St Mary's since they changed their admission criteria.

Anonymous said...

I know of at least 2 children who have moved from St Marks to another school because their parents were unhappy with St Marks.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I will soon wake up from this very bad dream...If you are as old as me you may remember when 'they' decided to change from a 2 tier to a 3 tier...presumably because 'they' thought it to be better...I am now having a very bad dream..that 'they' are changing it back again...
I just woke up!! I cannot believe that 'they' are going to reorganise again...hey ho another generation of children disrupted and their education severely disrupted..Don't forget that there are still some 'old pupils' and teachers that were around the first time it was reorganised..we have personal experience..Peter Clark was not wrong when he said it was horrendous..When will 'they' ever learn.

A case of the Emperor's New Clothes I fear!

Anonymous said...

2 pupils isn't a lot in four years. There will always be some parents who chose to move for a variety of reasons. I seem to recall a number moved from Mount Scar to St. Mary's a couple of years ago.

Anonymous said...

What is a shame is that two schools who always worked well together and had a good relationship now seem to be set against each other. The only real winner will be the other town school that has remained noticeably silent in the debate.
Come on St. Mary's where do you stand on this?

Paul Angel said...

It's true that sometimes parents move their children from one school to another for a variety of reasons, and I don't think that's the issue. I don't know Mr Harrison, but I've only heard good things, and I think that the Council put him in a very awkward position and by DCC and the dioceses trying to be so pointlessly secretive they've made the wrong decisions here and in Wool especially.

It is DCC that have pitched all the schools against each other and it is their seeming commitment to secrecy that has caused division in the town. We need the schools (all of them, including St Marys) to sit together and discuss calmly the needs of each school and its children, and tell DCC to listen to the whole community and not just the Diocese representatives from Plymouth and Salisbury.

Anonymous said...

Post 10:02 - I'm glad you said 'seem' to be. Apart from Paul and Jeremy, nobody knows who the bloggers are on here and what role and/or positions they hold. The schools themselves and the people who work in them can still work together and still do (a recently well attended evening workshop at St Marks in which all 4 first schools worked together to demonstrate a common approach to teaching maths is testament to that). I feel for the hard working staff at all of our schools that are caught up in all of this. They continue to do the very best for the children in their care under extremely challenging circumstances.

Anonymous said...

If John England (Head of Raising Achievement) and Chris Shepperd (Salisbury Diocese) had not turned up at Mount Scar and told them that it would be the only first school to close (while St Marks would expand at the Middle School site) before Christmas then perhaps the schools would have had the time to work together on rejecting the proposal and could have spoken as a more united voice.
At that time, Swanage First had little choice but to very rapidly mount a campaign to stand up for themselves as the only first school threatened with closure at that point. Since then, the proposal has been altered (probably because they broke confidentiality and decided to put up a fight).
Who can blame them for defending themselves given those circumstances?

Anonymous said...

Post 10:02 - I'm glad you said 'seem' to be. Apart from Paul and Jeremy, nobody knows who the bloggers are on here and what role and/or positions they hold. The schools themselves and the people who work in them can still work together and still do (a recently well attended evening workshop at St Marks in which all 4 first schools worked together to demonstrate a common approach to teaching maths is testament to that). I feel for the hard working staff at all of our schools that are caught up in all of this. They continue to do the very best for the children in their care under extremely challenging circumstances.

11:39 AM

So who are you? you are anonymous too!

Anonymous said...

The point is.. the SOS team include concerned people from different schools and include Heads, teachers, TA's, parents, councillors and members of the community. There is no them and us...we are all working together to try to discuss ways of reaching a better solution. We all agree that the consultation process has been unacceptable and possibly flawed.

We have now been able to see minutes of all the meetings that have taken place over the past year (F.O.I) and have sympathy with many of the members on this review board. They have all been put under extreme pressure..some have raised concerns about the implications of this proposal...it is there for everyone to read..Cllr Mike Lovell..asked a question of John Nash at a meeting...'how can this be a consultation if only one proposal is being presented'...all the concerns raised by Heads and others at these meetings have been the same concerns that the SOS members have raised!! The SOS team are all working together and are trying to firstly think about the future of our local children (socially and educationally) and to make the right decisions for our community.

Collette Drayson

Anonymous said...

Perhaps St Mary's supporters feel it's safer to keep quiet as they do not stand to lose anything, unlike the other schools. I'd like to know if they are interested in moving onto MOunt Scar as the proposal suggests they might, or whether they would prefer to remain where they are already established. Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Offering the Mount Scar site to St. Mary’ s was in my opinion highly insensitive. The SOS campaign is helped by the fact that St. Mary’s have now publicly declared that they do not wish to move site. See the headteacher’s statement on the St. Mary’s school website at http://www.stmarysswanage.dorset.sch.uk/ (click on ‘Parents info’)

Anonymous said...

About bloody time they did! Its only taken them 3 weeks.

Anonymous said...

I am sick to the back teeth of people criticising Mount Scar for defending itself. The proposed consultation strips the school of its location, its non denominational status, its community identity, and in all liklihood its teaching staff. Every other school gains - St Georges stays open and no longer has the threat of closure hanging over it, St Marks gets a new school less than half a mile from its current site, St Marys gets a bigger school which it has craved for ages. I have seen very few people jumping to its defence other than to say "poor Mount Scar". Well done to all the campaigners for fighting for what they believe in and shame on everyone else for criticising them.

Anonymous said...

Post 12.02 you are so right. This is where it all fell apart because no one had ownership of the decision. I still believe that if this had not been handled so ineptly St. Mark's and Swanage First staff and governors could have come to some agreement and the town could have had a wonderful new school.

Anonymous said...

I’ve heard that if Mount Scar remains in place as a primary school, they are keen to retain children up to age 13 and not just 11. Can anyone in the know comment on this please? Surely this would contradict a central reason for moving to a two tier structure, i.e. to avoid children having to change school halfway through Key Stage 3.

Anonymous said...

That's a new one on me! I've been to lots of meetings about Mount Scar and I have not heard anything of this nonsense. They could easily fit children in up to 11 but to 13 would be ridiculous. I suggest that post 10.36 is stirring and rumour mongering.

Simon Ramsden said...

The suggestion of retaining children to the age of 13 at Swanage First School is totally untrue.
Whilst there may be the physical space on the Mount Scar site to achieve such a system, none of the other first schools are in a pisition to do so.
There are discussions taking place with all the schools in Swanage about the most suitable and sustainable method of providing education in Swanage as the DCC proposal clearly isn't.
The proposal suggested by the 10:36 post is NOT being considered or even discussed by Swanage First School. Such a proposal would NOT be beneficial to the pupils of the school or Swanage as a whole.

brightmove.co.uk said...

This is cost saving gone mad. Keep the schools as they are. Childrens education is important.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard the views from Purbeck District Council. Have they reached a united decision?

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the update Simon. I think that the rumour regarding 13 year olds was fuelled by ongoing concerns regarding the bussing of kids from age 11 to Wareham – an issue that concerns both pro and anti two tier opinion. I agree with you that the concept is not a good one. Apart from the Key Stage 3 argument, trying to keep 11 year olds from inadvertently flattening 5 year olds in a Primary School will be plenty challenge enough!

10:36 AM poster

Anonymous said...

We have the minutes from all the Purbeck Review Board meetings, released under FOI, and notice that Swanage First is not discussed once at this level, although St Mark's, St George's and St Mary's are.

St Georges First School, Langton Matravers
3.6 Chris Shepperd said that of all the school sites St Georges is one of the worst and its deficiencies needed to be tackled by significant expansion. Access to the playground is currently across a major road. There should be a promised level of investment to change this situation. (Action: RP)

St Mary’s RC First School, Swanage
3.7 Jeremy Harrison said that he was concerned about the size of this school as this year St Mark’s had lost children to St Mary’s which increased its admission number to take additional children which could have been admitted to St Mark’s. John England said that this was an admissions related issue which he would take up with Phil Farmer. (Action: JE/PDF)

Swanage St Mark’s First School
3.9 Jeremy Harrison welcomed reference to the category of the school which deserved to be given serious consideration.
(ie protected as a church school)

In the last meeting however new 'risks' are mentioned:

Risk 63: Unresolved issues around individual schools which could lead to competition. Regarded as “significant” and “possible” with a score of 4.

Risk 64: Middle schools opposition to the proposed solution has a negative impact on the project. Regarded as “ major” and “likely” with a score of 12.

Can someone at those meetings anonymously post up the risks for us please? It saves this tedious FOI business and we should know what the risks are, all 64 of them, including those to funding, before deciding the fate of our children.

And can someone confirm whether there was ever any discussion about why Swanage First should close, and where these meetings took place? We can then try to make the process as open and transparent as it claims to be.

Jeremy Harrison said...

Post 11.35 make an incorrect assumption about point 3.9. A very early proposal was for St. Mark's and Swanage First to become a new community primary school. I welcomed the draft which seeks the views of the community on the nature of the proposed new school.

The statement in parenthsis added by post 11.35 is not in the original minutes and does not reflect the views of myself or the Governors. If post 11.35 would like to get in touch I would be happy to clarify this further.

Jeremy Harrison

Anonymous said...

Apologies for the assumption, Jeremy. It does not say anything in these minutes about when you had decided on a new school.

It is true that an early propsal was for a new community school, and then it was going to be a church school. Now it is neither, just a lovely vague meeting of ethos and faith.

Can you explain where and when these decisions to dismantle Swanage were made - and why? I'd rather you or other member of the Review do this openly as I think we've had enough secrets.

We're missing vital parts of the puzzle because apparently church education boards don't have to worry about the freedom of information act

Jeremy Harrison said...

Thanks for the apology, post 1.13. It is a complex scenario and I do understand it's easy for this kind of thing to happen.

I can only refer you back to an earlier post by saying again it is the Project Team who make these decisions.

As members of the Project Board our role is to oversee the process and feed back concerns raised at Headteacher meetings etc.

At no stage were we as board members privy to the discussions about individual schools.

I hope this clarifies the issue.

PS.

Why is everyone being so secretive on this 'blog. Who are you all?

Anonymous said...

But the minutes of the meetings refer to individual schools,as mentioned in post 11.35 so there must have been some knowledge and discussion about what was happening to them. I suggest that when the draft proposals were presented to the project board by the project team, nobody asked any questions about Swanage First which is why they are not mentioned in the minutes. Could this be because nobody was representing the interests of Swanage First? And because Mr Hiett (our local councillor) was conspicuously absent from meetings.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, don’t tell us that at no stage were board members privy to discussions about individual schools. The Project Board Minutes of 13.11.08 talk about ‘comments made in respect of the draft proposal’. So you and the others on the board discussed a draft (which I have seen) in which the closure of Swanage First was proposed without raising any questions or concerns. Specific details about Bere Regis, Lulworth & Winfrith, Sandford, St. George’s, St. Mary’s Wool, St. Mary’s Swanage, St.Mark’s, Lady St. Mary’s and Purbeck School were discussed. ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION OF SWANAGE FIRST!
You can read the minutes here: http://www.sos-swanage.co.uk/
Go to the section calles ‘Find Out More.’

Anonymous said...

I don’t think it’s fair to criticise Mr Harrison in this way. At least he’s had the decency to turn up on this blog and provide some feedback. Meanwhile I can’t trace any comment from Paul Mason, the Headteacher at Swanage First School. He was one of the signatories on a joint letter last December (along with all other Purbeck area first school heads) supporting a move to a two tier system. Was he completely in the dark regarding the proposal as to how this was going to be delivered in Swanage?

Anonymous said...

All the heads discussed were the educational benefits of a move to two-tier due to falling rolls, just like some parents and governors were asked to.

Then the heads were encouraged to sign a letter. Funnily enough, the idea for the letter came from Jeremy Harrison and the head of Bovington, the two first school heads on the review panel.

We can only imagine they were prompted to do this by a higher power. It was an odd move and I'm sure no one thought it would be read out at the start of each public meeting as propaganda.

I am sorry that Jeremy is getting awkward questions but he must expect to have to keep assuring us that there has been no conflict of interest.

Paul Angel said...

Don't tell anyone, but there are now TWO meetings in Swanage and apparantly they are not looking forward to it. Perhaps if they'd talked to the people before issuing their shoddy proposal... anyway, here's the detail, emailed casually to heads and chairs of governors and not announced to the public. It's only a public consultation after all:

Dear Colleague


Future School Provision in the Purbeck Area – Public Meetings


Due to the high level of interest shown so far in the public
consultation and the genuine concern that some of the existing venues
may not be able to accommodate the numbers wishing to attend, it has
been decided to add a further public meeting on 28th January and
change the venue of the meeting due to take place on 4th February. The
revised details are shown below:


• Wednesday, 28th January 2009 @ 5.00pm – Swanage Bay Caravan Park
• Wednesday, 28th January 2009 @ 7.30pm – Swanage Bay Caravan Park
• Wednesday, 4th February 2009 @ 7.00pm – The Purbeck School


Concerning the additional meeting on 28th January, the expectation is
that people who attend one of the meetings will not be attending the
other. This is to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to
contribute their views.


We have tried to identify the most suitable venues in all cases but
you should be advised that numbers could be limited due to Heath and
Safety regulations. I apologise for any inconvenience caused by
changes to existing arrangements but I believe that it is important to
ensure that everyone wishing to attend the meetings is able to do so
in order to hear the proposals.


Yours Sincerely


Rick Perry
Project Manager (School Provision)

Anonymous said...

Paul Mason was completely in the dark until just before christmas when members of the LA and the Salisbury diocese turned up at his school and announced that they wanted to close it. He has not been on the project board and so had not been privy to discussions. He has also only been in post since Sept and knew nothing of any of this before he was approached to be acting HT. Do you honestly think he would have taken on headship of a school that he knew was going to close? He has more to face in his first term of headship than most HTs have to deal with in their entire career!

Anonymous said...

How about some support for our Middle School too? All this in-fighting between First Schools is not exactly seeing the bigger picture for the children who will be affected by this inept proposal. Say no to 2-tier, it does not suit the needs of Swanage or its businesses.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. The whole proposal should be questioned. At the Swanage First meeting with John Nash et al last night, the majority of the time was spent arguing against the entirety of it and there were a lot of voices against the two tier. Incidently, a great deal of support for Middles can be found at SFS. I say reject it all.

Anonymous said...

Those at the Swanage FIrst school meeting yesterday spent well over an hour debating the deficiencies in the two-tier plan and about 20 mins on the proposed closure. No one in the town should feel that Swanage First is only looking after its own interests. We are fully aware of the big picture - but the big picture is bigger than the one being proposed by the Review.

Removing all secondary education from Swanage will have a negative impact on the town. We heard that there has been no assessment of the economic impact the plan will have on Swanage. The figures from Blandford and Shaftesbury show that two-tier does not in itself raise standards. The numbers they have for the population forecast in Swanage do not tally with those of the primary care trust.

I hope we use the momentum from all this to continue to fight for all our schools and to also fight for continued secondary education in Swanage. Whether this is as three tier across Purbeck, three tier only in Swanage, or with some sort of new secondary school linked to Purbeck, should be debated further.

For instance, John Nash agreed that the new 14-19 curriculum means that specialist colleges now become part of the mix, and he said this should be investigated. In Swanage we could enhance Purbeck School's plan to be a specialist science school - many other education authorities send their children here for just that reason.

We should fight for a vision of schooling that has Purbeck leading the way, rather than simply emulating what the rest of the country is doing. Our geography presents problems if you only think prosaically - but it also provides world-class educational opportunities. Any school can buy computers or bunsen burners, not many have the diversity of habitat, wildlife, geology, history and outdoor sports opportunities we have on our doorstep.

Anonymous said...

A packed meeting at the Vista this evening and the LA officers looked incompetant and flustered. As there were so many people, it was difficult to get enough questions asked.

I was interested in reading about standards and results in a list of questions that was being handed out. It seems that schools in Blandford have not improved with the reorganisation there. Apparently 3 of the new Blandford primary schools are at the bottom of the league tables for Dorset and that the secondary schools in Blandford and Shaftesbury (which have both changed from 3 tier to 2 tier) have worse GCSE results than Purbeck School. Also, where the A level results in the Blandford and Shaftesbury schools have dropped, in Purbeck they have risen by a much larger amount. We all know that Dorcherster has the best results in Dorset and they're 3 tier like Purbeck. If educational standards are not going to rise with a change to two tier, why are DCC messing about with our kids' future?

Anonymous said...

Teaching standards suffer in school building programme - Times article worth reading.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article5561276.ece

Anonymous said...

The proposal is, like Dave Pratten put very eloquently this evening, a missed opportunity. It does not offer Swanage children the promise of an enhanced education, at best it offers an uncertain future.
The project team is quick to offer up 'a 21st century education' as the rationale for causing massive upheaval to a system which has an excellent and diverse range of schools. There is much to question about this assertion:
1: Standards. John England is keen to point out that 'KS2 standards have risen by 10%'in Blandford, yet had to concede that he selectively presented a small piece of information about, possibly one school. Standards have not risen due to re-organisation, indeed they have dropped in many key measurements. I would be happy to post the standards data referred to in the previous post up for your consideration.
2: 14 - 19 curriculum. The proposal asserts that it is by having 11 and 12 year olds at Purbeck, that they will be able to offer the 14 - 19 curriculum fully. John Nash states that this is by having those 11 and 12 year olds in larger classes to 'subsidise' the education of 14-16 year olds. Is this really what we want for our Y7 and 8 children - that they subsidise others? Schools smaller than Purbeck deliver the full vocational curriculum by forging strong partnerships with other providers. Diploma students attract fudnign to support this.
3: 'Bigger is better' The most recent and authoratative research shows that students and staff in larger secondary schools lose 'engagement' with the school as the school size increases, and that they participate less in extended schools activities. Standards are at an optimum level when the school is somewhere between 600 and 1500 places. That's a big margin, but Purbeck would exceed the top end. There is an international move towards a view that 'small is beautiful' to maintain standards, pastoral care and connection to the community. Combine that with strong partnerships with other providers so you can present a full and exciting curriculum, and you've got a winner!
4: Sustainable travel. We are all well aware of the increased cost to the environment and the council tax payers of another 150+ children in busses pounding the tarmac to Wareham each day (and that's if you trust your child to those busses)
5: Diversity and parental choice. The project team neglected to consult the people of Swanage. If they had, they would have realised how much they cherish the range and diversity of excellent schools they currently have. The proposal does not offer assurances that this will be maintained. The project team misjudged Swanage in this respect... and in how mnay others?
This proposal could have looked to address surplus places by creating extended community facilities in buildings with spare capacity, to strengthen the links between education and the community. They could have looked at specialist skills centres, or satellite schools, to enhance the 14 -19 curriculum. They could have considered how to integrate education with maintaining sustainable communities. They have missed those opportunities to create a true '21st century education', and we must tell them to rethink.
There is a huge deal more professional strength, warmth and regard between the schools in Swanage than this blog would suggest, and I hope that we use it to demand better, together.

Anonymous said...

Lots of questions and comments tonight from Swanage First, St Marks, St Georges, Middle School, even Purbeck School. Fantastic show of unity of schools and the community. Even if we dont all agree, debate is essential. But where are St Mary's parents, teachers and governors? Not one question or statement of support for anything (at least in the 2nd meeting tonight). Shameful and very revealing to my mind. Are they lying low? Have they been told to stay silent? Looking after themselves? Or are they not really interested in the community they now claim to be at the heart of. Now where have I hear that before.......?

Anonymous said...

cingluAt the meeting last night a Langton parent made the very valid point that closing St George's would cause the shop, post office and pub to shut and ruin the village. Fair enough - although I don't think pubs should rely on underage drinking.

Village schools are not being touched for non-educational reasons.

But when Swanage parents pointed out that removing secondary education would harm the town, John Nash said that it was beyond his remit. He was only concerned with educational reasons, whatever the economic effect.

That isn't fair. He can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

How come St George's get a couple of community police officers every day to help them with their walking bus from Putlake Farm car park to the school? If police resources can be used like that why can't we have them on buses stopping kids getting beaten up?

Anonymous said...

is that the walking bus for all those people who have to drive to langton because they dont live there but its still an important local village school. You cant have it both ways!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
How come St George's get a couple of community police officers every day to help them with their walking bus from Putlake Farm car park to the school? If police resources can be used like that why can't we have them on buses stopping kids getting beaten up?

1:29 PM

Becky Butler -(rural police) for Corfe, Studland and Kingston is very supportive of walking buses, this avoids conjestion outside schools, keeps the kids fit and reduces our carbon footprint. Swanage has another team of supportive police, pehaps its worth asking them to help out.
This is one of the reasons that we do not want our local children at age 11 bussed to Purbeck. Keep things local for them as long as possible!!! Its good all ways round. Be proactive...reject the proposal!!!

Anonymous said...

sorry last comment should have said Corfe Studland and Langton!

Anonymous said...

No way is Langton a village. Do the people who live there shop there? eat out there? go to concerts and entertainments there? No, it's a suburb of Swanage.

DCC's own information shows that only a tiny number of children from the village support their local school. 9 I think. The vast majority also drive there as they live too far away to walk.

It needs to be included as a factor in the Swanage proposals, perhaps as a partner for St. Mark's so that anglican provision is maintained in the town. They were here first after all.

Steve T said...

John Nash's response at Wednesday's first (top secret) public meeting to the question about having a dual-entry structure to the Purbeck School was woolly and vague, showing once again that they really haven't even thought through in detail the pro's and con's of various perfectly serious alternatives for Swanage. All he could come up with was that, as an administrator, he didn't like "messy" solutions (perhaps he'd prefer tiding things up by closing down Swanage altogether and making us all live in an estate near the Purbeck School) and that it might be awkward trying to project future applications between the two schools.

He also admitted in the second (very much fuller and more passionate) meeting that :
a) The projected in-take numbers at Swanage Middle are stable for the forseeable future at around 90 children, ie. a full 3-form entry. He stated that the other 3 have projections for declining rolls, supporting only 2-form entry
b) That, despite alleging in the proposal document that there is a "history" of underperformance in the 4 middle schools, latest published results (2007) show only Bovington underperforms. He also revealed that the provisional and as yet unpublished results for 2008 are even better (another "inconvenient truth")
c) That a 3-form entry Middle school was perfectly viable financially

All of this makes it even more logical to leave Swanage Middle school in place, at least for as long as the numbers applying to it can support continued 3-form entry. This would be the ultimate test of parental choice : will Swanage parents opt to transfer their Yr7 children straight to the new Purbeck Secondary and bus them 20 miles each day or will they prefer them to stay in Swanage until they reach Yr9. If significant numbers choose the former (presumably meaning DCC will have made a great job of rebuilding the Purbeck School on time and integrated the other Yr7&8 kids from Bovington/Sandford/Wareham Middles so well) then they have the perfect argument to finally roll 2-tier onwards to encompas Swanage too. If, however, Swanage Middle is doing a better job of teaching its Yr7&8 pupils than the Purbeck school then they will stay put here and so support the continued future of the school.

This is an option they HAVE to consider seriously ("it's messy" is simply not good enough !)

Anonymous said...

That's a very good plan, Steve T, it would allow Dorset to stagger the reorganisation and help keep the risks down.

There is no risk in keeping our system going - no one is being failed by the current system in Swanage and the births we have already had means entry numbers are secure for at least five years. We have 120 babies predicted for coming years - that's a full class at all four schools.

The problem is if we did decide to move to two-tier then St Mark's and St George's would still need more space and where would the money come from? But this may be better contemplated on the other side of the recession.

Steve T said...

Couldn't agree more. DCC officers could even save their blushes by positioning it as a "postponed decision" on Swanage, subject to successful implementation of the rest of the 2-tier change in the rest of Purbeck and the projected trend in in-take numbers across all of the Swanage schools at that time. All 4 existing first schools can stay on their current sites and parents will continue to select between them when starting school.

However we must also ensure that :
a) DCC does not rob Swanage of the necessary funding to keep our schools thriving. This doesn't mean completely rebuilding schools but there are much-needed smaller improvements that must be funded.
b) All 5 Swanage schools learn from this whole process and start to co-operate properly and pull together to make education in Swanage something that we can be proud of, that attracts people to come to the town !

Steve T said...

And how about this for positive thinking : Applications to our Middle school might actually start to rise as new families are attracted to the town and others living in Corfe and beyond decide they like the idea of a smaller school environment through to age 13. Then, if DCC still want the "administrative simplicity" of 2-tier across all of Purbeck they could actually open their minds to the benefits of progressively transitioning the Middle school to become a smaller "Purbeck South" Secondary, federated to the Purbeck "North" school, and addressing again the best way for the existing First Schools to become Primaries (in full and open consultation with the people of Swanage !)

Paul Angel said...

I hear that Toni Coombs is reporting that the feeling at the meetings in Swanage were 'broadly in favour' of the 2 tier proposal. I was at the 7.30 meeting, where the majority were clearly NOT in favour. Does anyone else have thoughts on this, particularly from the 5 o'clock? I don't recall a show of hands at the later meeting either.

Anonymous said...

We just need to have more children. Get to it people!

Anonymous said...

St Georges First School, Langton Matravers
3.6 Chris Shepperd said that of all the school sites St Georges is one of the worst and its deficiencies needed to be tackled by significant expansion. Access to the playground is currently across a major road. There should be a promised level of investment to change this situation. (Action: RP)

Well what a surprise another incorrect bit of information..the school field is over the road..the playgrounds are on site. I wish they would get their facts correct..it becomes very irritating.

Anonymous said...

This is getting too personal now. I am a teacher, thankfully not in Swanage! Schools implying teachers in other schools are not making the mark - how must everyone be feeling? Has Swanage First thought about the implications of their campaign on other teachers? If they have to amalgamate they clearly won't want to work with any member of staff from St. Mark's. If an amalgamation does have to happen, how will both schools integrate after what appears to be a hate campaign???

Anonymous said...

No way is Langton a village. Do the people who live there shop there? eat out there? go to concerts and entertainments there? No, it's a suburb of Swanage.

DCC's own information shows that only a tiny number of children from the village support their local school. 9 I think. The vast majority also drive there as they live too far away to walk.

It needs to be included as a factor in the Swanage proposals, perhaps as a partner for St. Mark's so that anglican provision is maintained in the town. They were here first after all.

10:01 AM

At first I thought I would not waste my time in answering all your incorrect information...but I could not resist it...if you are going to bother to post on this site..please make sure you have checked that your information is accurate.
1. It is the village of Langton Matravers.
2.Yes we do shop here..we have a perfectly good Post Office Stores..its good to support local shops.
3.Believe it or not we can often be entertained here too. Dorset Arts Reach is a brilliant organisation that provides wonderful diverse entertainment for village people..Swanage people often come to these parts to enjoy these events...
4.Obviously some children out of catchment attend St Georges School as do children who go to other schools. This is what is called choice and makes it a wonderful diverse area to live in.

Please do not waste your energy in being negative..it will not help to create a vision for Swanage.

Anonymous said...

Post 10.15 what are you talking about? Why wouldn't teachers from Swanage First want to work with teachers from St Marks?
Many of the teachers across the Swanage schools know each other and get on well personally and professionally. I know for a fact that teachers from Swanage First School, together with other staff would be more than happy to work with any of the teachers from St Marks (and indeed any other school).

If you are not a teacher from Swanage, then I guess you can be forgiven for not knowing this but you have made a huge and unfounded assumption.
Could you please provide evidence of where school staff have implied teachers are not making the mark as I have not seen any? Should Swanage First school just sit back and say "take away our jobs and our school" and not stand up for themselves? You say you are a teacher, what would you do if your LA wanted to close your school down?
It is posters like you that are making these issues personal and stifling genuine debate about what the residents of Swanage want for all of their kids from age 4 to 19.

Anonymous said...

To talk of a hate campaign is utterly ridiculous. As a previous poster said, there is a great deal of professional strength, warmth and regard between the schools and their staff. The only people we object to are the LA officers who put together this ill conceived proposal!!

Anonymous said...

can't believe that it is being said that most people agree with the 2 tier proposal! what rubbish i was at the meeting and even those who do agree(with maybe 1/2 exceptions)with 2 tier did not have the passion to stand up and make this clear.To all those in favour of a 'fantastic' new state of the art building it is NOT bricks and mortar which make a good school but staff, pupil and parent morale, dedication and COMMUNITY spirit which result in an outstanding learning environment.
Having heard the comment from the Langton parent although i sympathise with their feelings i cannot help but feel that if only 9 children from the village are attending the school then perhaps their village is already 'dead'.

Anonymous said...

Am so disappointed that some narrow-minded and divisive bloggers see fit to waste what could be positive energy on stirring up imagined resentments between schools in Swanage.
Swanage First School is right to try to preserve their school, as would any other school be, if they were similarly threatened, without just cause. Many SFS parents, govs and staff are also joining whole-heartedly with people from all the schools and the community to work together to rebut this proposal and aim for better. There is great regard between staff at the schools, and I do not know of any who are not happy to work together. At the public meeting on Wednesday the community of Swanage showed how strong and committed it is to this cause. This is not about individual schools, it is about what is best for the whole community. Instead of starting ill-founded rumours, why not add your strength to a positive campaign?United we bargain, divided we beg!
www.sos-swanage.co.uk

Anonymous said...

yes quite right, the staff at all the schools have the most important thing in common-they all want the best for our children. The head of middle school spoke very well at weds meeting and even as a relative newcomer understood the need for community consistence. The proposal is flawed from the outset and even if the board were unable to answer many questions due to lack of knowledge or otherwise they did admit to some things:
* there is no guarantee that our children will not be severly disrupted by any changes

* they have at no point factored the economic effect the proposal will have on our town

*they have not explored travel arrangements in the case of a 2 tier system

*they admitted at weds 7,30 meeting that the carbon footprint would be increased

*there is no guarantee there will not be an over spend

*there is no gaurantee that the project will not go over its timescale

think on people- there are no definates in this proposal either way. your wonderful 21st century school may not be quite as it seems.

Anonymous said...

sorry, think i may have got one of my points wrong the board have explored travel arrangements, the steam train......... need i say more.....

Anonymous said...

Hate campaign! 10.15 you are spouting utter tosh. You should really get your facts straight before making any comments here. There is a vast difference between fighting for your school with strongly argued debate and hating people. Swanage First is fighting for its community position, its location, to maintain its fantastic team of teaching staff, as well as providing a greener and sustainable option for the future, and keeping its non denominational status. It is doing this with focussed and well research arguments which are clearly open to opinion and discussion. I can assure you, nobody hates anyone.

Anonymous said...

I work in a swanage school. We don't hate each other. We work together for the best of the local children. I see us as a team - wanting what is best for all of our children.

Anonymous said...

Swanage schools need to unite against this proposal because as a whole community we will seriously jeopardise the future of many childrens' education if we let them close our Middle School.

The First Schools would do well to think collectively, particularly if they share the same faith. In this way all interests of all parents will be achieved and diversity will be retained.

Anonymous said...

Talk of a “hate campaign’ may be excessive but I’m afraid resentment between the different schools has been stirred up by the SOS campaign. No doubt the campaign organisers will say this was never intended or even deny that this is the case. However, huge emphasis has been made in recent weeks of perceived differences between the ‘community school’ and so called ‘faith schools’ in Swanage. Most recently I was treated to a diatribe in a report on Friday’s (30th January) ‘South Today’ on BBC1. Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/southtoday/archive2008_index.shtml if you missed it. It was appallingly one-sided.

I personally happen to think that it is a dreadful shame that the fixation by some people with the status of the proposed new primary school has overshadowed a more rational debate about the opportunity that primary school aged children of Swanage are being offered, i.e. to be educated in excellent purpose built new facilities. If a two tier system is eventually adopted (and despite the eloquent debate on this blog it still has to be the most likely outcome), cynics may doubt that a new primary school will ever happen. I personally believe that both the finance and the will are there to make such a new school a reality.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – morning assembly and the curriculum at our Church of England schools are identical to that practiced in community schools. As a parent with children at a C of E first school I would hazard a guess that in the case of 99% of fellow parents the status of the school is right at the bottom of the list of considerations influencing their choice of school for their children. Only a tiny minority of parents at St Marks and St Georges are regular church goers. I feel that this issue has been significantly over played and can’t help wondering if it is being used to hide other prejudices.

Let’s look at the facts about what status a new primary school could be. Speak to any member of staff or governor at St. Mark’s and they will tell you that, yes, their first preference would be Voluntary Assisted (VA) Church of England School as per their current status. Were this to be unacceptable then they would be happy for a Voluntary Controlled (VC) status. In this scenario the majority of governors would NOT be appointed by the church and the LEA would have full control over admissions policy, staff recruitment and the syllabus. Were this still to prove unacceptable to our ‘community’ friends, and the issue was genuinely the difference between a new primary happening or not, then the governors at St Mark’s have stated that they would accept a new school being a community school. No mention of this on any SOS campaign material or on the ‘South Today’ report. And yes I am familiar with the government’s policy in respect of the need for a ‘competition’ (!) in respect of new schools. I just don’t think that the diocese would actively go against the wishes of the local community and the governors.

Location of a new primary school, loss of the middle schools and the age at which pupils would have to travel by bus to Wareham are all genuine issues that should be properly examined and debated. But please can those involved with the SOS campaign stop their counter-productive and divisive criticism of ‘faith schools’. The staff and pupils in our C of E schools are no different to those at the community school!

Anonymous said...

I'm a parent of children at Sandford Middle school and support the three tier system. I was really pleased to see ALL your comments. I think a lot of us have just allowed DCC to do what they like with our children's education because we've seen our schools improve and achieve excellent results and that's what we all want. We forgot that we do need to keep ourselves informed and have our say. It's clear that people are now taking time to change that. There's loads of information on the internet, you only need to Google BSF funding, for example, to get started. There are plenty of independent stories about Education Authorities closing their "outstanding" schools and using BSF funding to improve the failing school next door. Surely we want all schools to be outstanding. That's what BSF should be for, instead of pitting one good school against another.

Anonymous said...

The SOS campaigners are not criticising faith school at all. They do not want to get rid of faith schools. They just want to retain a balance and community schools, alongside faith schools provide that balance. Of course there is very little difference between the staff and pupils at St Marks and Swanage First. I don't recall anyone saying there is.

By the way, the South Today report was not instigated by SOS. The news team contacted the school, who gave a much broader picture of the whole issue for Purbeck but that was the angle the reporter chose to focus on.
The issue is as much about moving Swanage First out of the town and away from its close community links as anything out. If the new school was to be in a more central location, there would be less of a problem. St Marks is already close to the Middle School site, however, so it is not such an issue for their parents.
By the way, I would not trust Chris Shepperd from Salisbury Diocese to concede on the new primary being a Community school even if this was agreed by the governors at St Marks.

Anonymous said...

I have just watched the news report again. It is factually accurate and contains a genuine concern for some parents. You cannot deny that these opinions exist and why should parents who feel that way be denied their freedom of choice? The report does not criticise any other schools. It just says that closing Swanage First would reduce choice. This is a fact. You may not want it to be so but it is.

Anonymous said...

I have a question: If the majority of parents at St Marks are not church goers as post 11.52 suggests, would they like to bring their children to Swanage First and have a larger primary school in the centre of the town? Their children would be more than welcome and this would keep a community school in the town with a CE in Langton and VC at St Mary's.
I suggest that the answer to this question will be no. The reason being that they do not want their young children to walk long distances to school, just as Swanage First parents do not want to walk their young children to Herston. This is just as much of a concern as anything else but the media don't think it's interesting enough to form a report on.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that all of this backlash against Swanage First is happening because other schools are now getting increasingly concerned about their own futures because of a suggestion to 'rethink' the proposal. Now perhaps, they can understand how we at Swanage First have been feeling for a long time. The threat is uncomfortable isn't it? Perhaps if people had been more supportive towards Swanage First and had asked questions about their closure prior to the proposal being published, the SOS campaign would not have been so strongly mounted.

Anonymous said...

Location is definitely an issue – never denied by anyone. But I maintain that the ‘community v faith school’ argument has been exaggerated by some and is divisive.

Anonymous said...

OK everyone, can I suggest that we take a deep breath and agree to differ on this particular point.

If we accept that the SOS campaign wins the day (and I happen to think it now will) and a community school remains at Mount Scar then clearly the LEA will have to come back with a fresh proposal. Let’s hope that any new plans have been better prepared and discussed!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right 1.00 pm post - very revealing how many posts have arrived in recent days now that schools other than SFS (or should we call it Lazarus First, no too churchy) are suddenly in the spotlight and under threat. Werent so bothered when they all lied low because you were 'safe'. I believe parents at Corfe were being directed to support the 3 to 2 tier switch because it "saved their school" irrespective of the longer term interests of anyone elses children in a switch from 3 to 2 tier. I believe there is now an active group of St Georges parents doing exactly the same, encouraging parents to vote for the current proposal to go through in its current form so that St Georges will not slip into the very unsettling position that SFS found it self in before Christmas. What the latter need to realise is that even if they do vote in that direction, the DCC project board have already publically admitted that they will be coming back with alternative proposals concerning First Schools once the initial consultation has finished. They should be campaigning to save their school based on its merits rather than blankly accepting a shift from 3 to 2 which will have dire concequences for Swanage and all children. They will be signing the death warrant of the fantastic middle schools just to save their own bacon. I am under the impression that St Marks have suggested to St Georges that they form a joint new shiny CofE school together, but St Georges have refused! It clearly does not fit in with a view of the world as seen in the pages of the Boden catalogue let alone a hymn book. To their credit, SFS have openly stated they are happy to increase in size and take anyone from anywhere in society. They just dont want that situation to be controlled by the church and dont want it to be away on the outskirts of town. And for those spouting that people are missing the the opportunity for a new school - (who was that silly woman who stood up at the public meeting asking to a see a model! Take your blinkers off Mrs) lovely new buildings and shiny new seats do not make a good school A great school is built on things such as brilliant caring teaching staff and TA's, a bond with the community in which the children live and learn, tradition, parental involvement etc. If you havent got that inside your shiny new school, it will fail anway but will look good while its failing.

Dont vote for 2 tier just to save yourself. Vote for a proper consultation for the secondary needs of Swanage children in Swanage.

Anonymous said...

Here here! So far, the only supporters of the Middle Schools that I have come across are from Swanage First. In fact many staff, parents and governors at Swanage First have joined with the Middle Schools broader campaign to get this proposal trashed for the good of the whole of Purbeck. Is there anyone out there from St George's, St Mary's or St Marks's who is against two tier? There must be some people but they are rather quiet.

Anonymous said...

Other than Steve T that is.

Anonymous said...

We are being held to ransom by Dorset, yet we are the biggest voice in the area.

Let us start with the fact that all four first schools are safe – it is not our numbers that are falling and we will fight to keep any open. Then we can decide calmly what we want from any reorganisation, if any. At the very least we should demand that changes are made at the Purbeck School before throwing our children at it - saving it is hardly compensation for all the upheaval. And we can demand safe transport to Wareham and a detailed schedule and plans for updating all our schools

Even if you agree with two-tier, let's bargain for more. We should dictate the 'vision'. After all, if one school can make this much noise, imagine what five working together can do. If you are not happy with your school being silent, speak up!

Anonymous said...

In response to 11.57pm...the person that reported that St Georges has 9 children in catchment is spreading incorrect information

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU 11.52. I agree totally. Would it not be more productive and far more useful to all concerned if we all put our heads together to come up with our own vision for education in swanage. Why not put our proposals to Rick Perry etc. After all, we are the ones at the chalk face, we know what the children of swanage need and deserve. I'm sure we can turn this negativity into something positive. PLEASE!!!

Anonymous said...

1.00 pm poster, I'm not sure I understand - isn't St Marks facing exactly the same proposal, that it be closed down and relocated (admittedly much nearer to its original site)? How is that different to what is proposed for Mt Scar, apart from the geography? And how could anyone have backed the school better before the proposal was published? Did everyone know about it except me??!

Anonymous said...

In response to 11.52am post

Perhaps there is some confusion regarding the SOS group..so just to make it clear..yes Swanage First School is quite rightly trying to save its School (SOS).

There is also a group SOS (save our schools) that is a group of people who are discussing, openly about the best way forward. This group includes..Heads, teachers, staff, parents from many schools councillors and concerned members of the community. It is looking at the proposal in detail, and discussing all the ifs and buts. These meetings have been open to everyone that is open minded.. those that may still be undecided and not convinced by the contents in the proposal.
As we know there are different views at to whether to support 2 or 3 tier, even between teachers and governors of the same schools. There are probably advantages and disadvantages in both systems...that is the nature of the debate...and a democratic decision should be the outcome...decided by local,rural people for local, rural children. We live in Purbeck because it is very special..we stay here because it is a wonderful place to bring up our children..they are nurtured in smaller schools than perhaps city schools..and presumably that is why many people decide to move here. The argument may be that other areas of the county have moved to the 2 tier system...but that does not necessarily mean that it is right for Swanage/Purbeck.
Dorchester has a 3 tier system that works very well and produces some better results than other 2 tier systems.
May the debate continue...

Anonymous said...

Post 4.25. You are right that the proposal suggests the closure of both St Mark's and Swanage First. The difference is that the Headteacher and governors at St Marks are happy with the proposal to close their school and relocate at the Middle School. I believe that the earlier comment was probably referring to the lack of representation for a swanage community school on the project board. (Someone mentioned how the minutes of the project board meetings do not show anyone questioning the closure of Swanage First). I hope this helps to clarify.
Now can we please get on with discussing how this proposal will affect our secondary age children and the level of disruption they will face. Lets look at the best way forward in fighting the proposal together.

Anonymous said...

The content of the proposal was known to Headteachers and Chairs of Governors before it was published.

Some of these will have thought:

"nice new school, I'll have some of that"

some will have simply buried their heads in the sand as it didn't adversley effect them.

Swanage First School was affected, and set about a campaign to retain itself on its own site. It didn't stand up and shout that Community Schools were better than Faith Schools. Stop reading more into the campaign than there is.

It's about Geography and it's about preservation of choice.

The SFS parents don't want to move to the Middle School site - its not where they live.

The SFS parents don't want to lose a community school - there is no good educational reason for this to happen. Its an outstanding school, period.

SFS did not write the BBC interview, they will have been asked questions about the proposal as will the DCC.

Personally I thought it was OK, the School put across its message about being community and wanting to stay put. The DCC confirmed they were surprised at the strength of feeling in Swanage over the proposal and that they would be looking at it again. I didn't hear anyone dump on Faith education or a particular school, only about "choice".

If the proposal is changed to the detriment of the education in another school, I'm sure SFS will stand up and make the arguments. They are simply trying to save their school, which I'm sure is something you would do in their position.

Anonymous said...

The heads of the Upper and first schools ONLY had a meeting with DCC in Nov 08 where they were asked to sign up for the new 2 tier system. Well job security and increased salaries are attractive. Unfortunately it would appear that someone forgot to tell them that while DCC proposed to close the middle schools they were going to close first schools too.
Perhaps it they had spoken to parents and governors first we wouldn't all be in this mess.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter if only two children from Langton go to St George's. It is the right of all parents in the area to choose that school. The popularity of it and it's excellent educational standards means the school is viable. Compare that to some of the village schools being kept open in this review.

I say this as a parent at Swanage First heavily involved in the campaign. No schools have to close or merge. We have enough children for full classes at each and until this debacle our schools were attracting families to the town.

I believe that if Swanage or Purbeck bothered to advertise our schools, we'd get many more families moving here. Our campaign has done more to highlight all the excellent and diverse education in the town in the national press than any amount of money spent on 'sustainable community' reports. And not once have we said we should get special treatment or want other schools to close.

Anonymous said...

So what do the heads and govs of the swanage schools other than swanage first want?
Who is in favour of 2 tier?
Maeve Baker seems to be in a statement on St Mary's website? Is that how the governing body feel?
Do the heads represent what the majority of the community want?
Who has doubts other than swanage first? They seem to be doubting the whole proposal and working towards other solutions.
Does anyone on this blog know the answer to these questions?

Anonymous said...

That makes it clearer, thank you. I couldn't agree more about the secondary education - the position/geography of a school, the traffic, the building disruption, the standards, travelling to Purbeck at 11, parental choice about faith/community schools, all valid issues, all needing to be discussed.

But for me, when the children get to take their GCSEs and beyond, are the standards good and is the choice there? - that's the crux of the matter, that's what will make the difference for our children. Everything else is important yes, but feels like it can be managed somehow, with a bit of flexibility and goodwill.

As I understand it, DCC have examined most of the options, and I felt their presentations were convincing - in order to have the range of subjects we want at GCSE level, it makes most sense to have a 2 tier system and take advantage of economies of scale. Dividing things up any other way will impact on what can be offered at GCSE level.

I'd happily keep the status quo if it doesn't have a negative impact on my children, can anyone explain how this can be done?

Anonymous said...

Small secondary schools need not necessarily perform less adequately and can be sustainable. This is something which the LA fail to mention.

Here is an example of a very small secondary school that has good results:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/schools/small-is-beautiful-the-tiny-rural-school-teaching-big-cities-a-lesson-869326.html

Even the Torys are beginning to think that small is beautiful:

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/opinion/David-Cameron-There-is-such.4076097.jp
David Cameron: "Small schools will provide better relationships between pupils and teachers and a more nurturing environment to help the emotional development of children."
I wonder what our Conservative council would think of this?

Human Scale Education make some interesting points on this.
http://www.hse.org.uk/ssp/secondary1.html

The human scale approach has been highly successful in the USA, where hundreds of schools have converted into smaller learning communities, either small schools per se or larger schools which have restructured into smaller Learning Communities.

Extensive research into the benefits of smaller structures in education has been carried out in the USA (see http://www.smallschoolsworkshop.org) and it found that in smaller schools:

-student behaviour is more positive
student academic achievement is higher

-student attitudes towards school are more positive

-levels of extracurricular participation are higher
school attendance is better
students have a greater sense of belonging

-teacher satisfaction is greater
inter-personal relationships between staff and students are more positive

-parents are more likely to be involved and play a constructive role in their children's education

The research finds that the benefits are most marked with respect to the academic achievement and the social development of ethnic minority students and students of low socio-economic status.

So is a bigger Purbeck school the best way forward? It already struggles to offer adequate pastoral care.

Anonymous said...

6.01 pm, I thought there was a statement prepared and signed by all the purbeck first school heads, and the Purbeck school head, in favour of a move to 2 tier.

Anonymous said...

Also, reorganisation into a two tier system will not necessarily improve results, as Blandford and Shaftesbury have shown. Another thing which DCC fail to mention.

E.g. KS3 value added:
In Blandford the CVA (this if how much progress children make between year 6 and Year 9)scores from KS2 to 3 were exactly the same for 2004 (pre - 2 tier) and 2007 at 101.4. In Shaftesbury KS2 to 3 CVA went down from 102.0 in 2004 to 100.8 in 2007.
No improvement there!

A to C GCSE results including English and Maths:
Blandford and Purbeck show a 4% rise from 2004 to 2008.
Shaftesbury shows a 3% increase.
%A-C incl Eng/Ma
2004 05 06 07 08
Blandford 46 45 49 45 50

Shaftesbury 46 45 41 44 49

Purbeck 47 49 50 49 51

Purbeck School has consistently marginally higher results than both schools.

Lets turn to A/AS levels:
Between 2006 and 2008 the average point scores have DROPPED for Shaftesbury by 28 points and Blandford by 49 points while in Purbeck they’ve RISEN by 93 points.

Anonymous said...

The new 14-19 curriculum, which will encourage pupils to choose from a wider range of academic and vocational options, will be beyond the scope of even the largest schools. The plan is instead to concentrate on pooling resources and urge collaboration between schools. What worries is me is that there isn't any communication between Purbeck and other schools, such as Lytchett or colleges in Poole or Bournemouth.

John Nash admits that this new system lends itself to having some sort of secondary college in Swanage better than the current system. So instead of playing catch-up with two-tier we should use new money to embrace the aims of the new 14-19 plans. Lead the way, not follow.

Btw, the head of Thomas Hardye says that 3-tier in Dorchester works so well because they work from the ground up - it is much easier to teach children who have had a good early education. This is universally accepted as good practice.

Anonymous said...

and Thomas hardye makes strong partnerships with other schools and providers. This is what the DCSF say will make for successful delivery of the 14 - 19 curriculum. Not 11 - 13 year olds in big classes.

Paul Angel said...

Blimey - this thread reads like a fiesty night in the pub, only it appears that some of the rowdy regulars have fallen asleep or gone home now and the conversation has got sensible again! No doubt I could read back to my earlier posts and find something someone would be offended by though - apologies if that's the case!

Can I suggest that we have a new thread that deals only with POSITIVE and CONSTRUCTIVE ideas about the way forward for education in Swanage and Purbeck? If we were to start from the assumption that the proposal may be re-thought we could play with ideas, either 2 or 3 tier, with any and all ideas put forward?

The rules would have to be that a post could suggest a closure, merger, new-build, secondary school, university or the status quo without being shouted down... difficult I know, but we need to talk about these things. In a new thread you would have to give positive reasons for change though, not negative reasons why a given school might not be one w=you agree with!

Whaddayareckon?

Anonymous said...

Paul,
"If you build it, they will come."
Go for it!

Anonymous said...

So, aside from the distance and the fact that your children could get mugged on the bus, what else is wrong with 2 tier education?
It caters for a single transition to a new school at age 11, end of Key Stage 2 - thats a plus. Less disruption must surely equal more learning.
I realise KS4 wants to rob all the KS3 money to pay for their specialist classes of underwater archery and alike which I don't agree with. In my mind the money provided for a KS should remain within that KS. But there are plenty of plus's and it does allow kids to get out of this one horse town and see the world - well, Wareham!
In the USA they stagger the journey to school. Earlier years turn up at 8:30, the later years at 9:30. Staggered luches and staggered leaving. The opportunities to bully are reduced unless they occur within the same Key Satge.
Would a staggered start at the Purbeck school reduce parental concerns over safety?
Or is it still just too far to travel?

Anonymous said...

for me it really is too far to go.With a 3/4 year old (don't forget the pre-schools would have to relocate also)the walk alone would be exhausting for the little ones and as i dont drive- in trying to reduce my own carbon footprint i thought it irresponsible to run 2 cars - i would have no option but to walk in every weather. My childrens current school is a 2 minute walk so nipping to and from school at the moment is not too difficult.
I think many parents also feel they would lose the good relationships forged between teacher and parent in a larger school.
Can i suggest that whatever the outcome of these proposals whether 2 or 3 tier that the parents of swanage continue to use their passion to put pressure on the council to ensure our children are safe on the buses. 11, 13 and onwards they deserve a bully free journey to school with adult supervision.

Anonymous said...

That's well put. But Wareham is a half-horse town.

It just seems wrong to me that everyone in Swanage has to go to the far smaller Wareham. (I know that the location makes sense for the rest of Purbeck).

The review board keep saying people travel just as far to go to Gillingham school, but in fact it's the equivalent of moving everyone in Gillingham out to Sturminster Newton, a place half its size.

Incidentally, there are secondary schools in both Gillingham and Sturminster Newton, which has only 576 pupils and is still rated good including for its broad and balanced curriculum. Swanage would have 600 just from its own four schools, let alone attracting people from further afield.

Anonymous said...

There are some really great suggestions in here for a sustainable Swanage school system, but they're diluted in amoungst the negativity. YES lets start a new thread. This one's giving me a headache!

Anonymous said...

I have requested a new thread called THE WAY FORWARD FOR OUR SCHOOLS.
Hopefully the administrator will get it up and running swiftly so that we can post positive and constructive comments as Paul suggests.

Anonymous said...

6.01 pm, I thought there was a statement prepared and signed by all the purbeck first school heads, and the Purbeck school head, in favour of a move to 2 tier.

....1 first school head in favour of moving to SMS site...1 Head very new in position at Swanage First...1 Head, tempory position, and 1 head?..

Now...implications of this proposal have begun to be acknowledged and challenging, thoughtful questions from parents, staff, governors, Heads and the community have been presented to the board...on reflection would the Heads have signed up to this. Maybe not...I wonder how they all feel now? Its horrible to hear John Nash read out before every meeting...'The Heads of all the first schools and the Purbeck Schools have asked me to read out this statement'....how do they and their colleaugues from the Middle Schools feel when this is read out.

Its a shame it wasn't an 'open' consultation from the start....as someone else said 'this mess could have been avoided'. We encourage our children to communicate...I hope they do not follow this example of adult behaviour!

Anonymous said...

Here here! So far, the only supporters of the Middle Schools that I have come across are from Swanage First. In fact many staff, parents and governors at Swanage First have joined with the Middle Schools broader campaign to get this proposal trashed for the good of the whole of Purbeck. Is there anyone out there from St George's, St Mary's or St Marks's who is against two tier? There must be some people but they are rather quiet.

I assume by this comment that you have not been attending the SMS Save our schools meetings!!...if you had you will see that there are many that are in favour of scrapping this proposal!!!

Anonymous said...

Post 3.31 Yes I am aware that there are many people who want to scrap the proposal and I am also aware of the people attending middle school SOS meetings. I also know that several Swanage First governors have attended the meetings, as have some supporters who have children who previously attended St George's. What I would like to know is where the staff and governors at the other first schools stand (not just their headteachers as Jeremy and Maeve have made it clear that they support 2 tier).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps too more of these 3 tier supporters from other First Schools would like to join in the debate here? Come on...share your thoughts on how we can come up with a better solution for Swanage.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone from St Marks or St Marys that has attended or intends to attend any of the Save Swanage Schools meetings at the Middle school? Input from all the Swanage schools would be welcome, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Two governors from St Mary's have attended the Save our Schools meetings. See you tomorrow evening.

Anonymous said...

Look forward to meeting you.

Anonymous said...

So who were the epople from St Mary's at the meeting tonight? Are you sure that St Mary's governors have been going to the Save Our Schools meetings? We need to find a way to reach their parents.

Paul Angel said...

I thought it was a good, positive Save Our Schools meeting last night. It clarrified, for me at least, one of the things we all need to do next:

The Review Team have said at several meetings now that they are going to look again at the plans for Swanage & Langton schools. As a community we need to tell them that we want the re-thought proposals to come from a community-based process, not suggested from the top down.

We still need to oppose the existing proposal if we are to get a real, sustainable, Purbeck-led solution for the future of schools across our area.

I came away last night with a much clearer view of why I oppose the move to 2 tier in Purbeck under this proposal:

DCC admit that they need to prop up an ailing school, and they plan to do so by sending our children there 2 years earlier with no evidence of an improved ethos, improved partnership with neighbouring schools or reduction of bullying at Purbeck School.

Purbeck children in years 5 & 6 will be disadvantaged because they will not have the specialist facilities and staff they currently have at Middle School - DCC confirm this.

Purbeck children in years 7 & 8 will be disadvantaged because the money that is spent on them now will be reduced to spend more on years 9, 10 & 11. DCC confirm this.

Purbeck children will have 5 wonderful First School years, then 4 years of disadvantage compared to now, and will then have to try and catch up in the difficult teenage years in order to achieve the GCSE results we should expect them to achieve.

It is vital that we get this proposal stopped! If anybody wants to see the facts and figures that the 2 SOS campaigns have found, google for 'sos swanage' and look at the websites, or ask here - unlike DCC we have facts and figures to support our claims!

Anonymous said...

It appears that the weather and the amount of post that the review team have received from the Isle of Purbeck has resulted in the cut off date being extended to the 3-4 March!!! Keep the post and emails flowing. Its not over yet. St Georges have set up an Action Team and will be delivering post to the outlying villages!!

Anonymous said...

One important issue to consider, is the LAs assertion that they need more pupils per se to enable Purbeck School to deliver a
wider curriculum. When in fact the increase in pupil numbers in years 7 and 8 would not help with this. What is needed is a 'wider' not 'taller' pupil structure. More pupils in each year group (from Y9 to 11), not more pupils across the school (from Y7 to Y13). What I'm trying to say is that putting younger kids in Purbeck School is not going to solve the problem so it is a massive flaw in their argument. The only way having younger pupils will help is through cross subsidisation (using money given by the Government for Y 7 and Y8 to prop up Y9+). This will mean that pupils will be taught in larger classes in KS3.

The only way Purbeck will be
able to meet it's responsibilities in providing a wider 14-1 curriculum and vocational diplomas, is to collaborate with colleges (something they have been reluctant to do thus far). Filling the school up with younger kids will not in itself improve results and provide a better and broader education. We need to show Nash and the community this flaw in their argument if we really want to improve the future life chances of our kids.

In addition, the LAs argument that Purbeck NEEDS to be bigger to sustain an adequate 14 - 19 curriculum (including a range of GCSE options)is flawed if you look at how other schools (of similar and indeed smaller size) are able to manage. If they can do it, why can't Purbeck.

Lets look at Shaftesbury and Blandford as examples. Both schools have been part of the reorganisation to two tier education in recent years but are still about the same size as Purbeck is now (before reorganisation). I have taken the figures from the Dorset For You schools database (by the way - the figures differ for Purbeck from those in the consultation document! Who knows which ones are accurate?)

Projected pupil numbers in Blandford School:
2007 - 1203
2008 - 1182
2011 - 1153
2014 - 1225

Shaftesbury School:
2007 - 992
2008 - 1023
2011 - 1075
2014 - 1060

Purbeck School:
2007 - 1176
2008 - 1194
2011 - 1156
2014 - 1050

Note that there is only a difference of 10 pupils between Shaftesbury and Purbeck for 2014. If Shaftesbury can manage with that number of pupils, why can't Purbeck?

Now let's look at Sturminser Newton. A small town (much smaller than Swanage) that has retained its own Secondary School and has a good Ofsted report and very good GCSE results.

Sturminster Newton pupil numbers 2008 - 607, projected for 2014 - 564

Why are they not proposing to close this ver small but successful school if it is all about the need to sustain a large secondary school?

I think it's because their argument is essentially flawed and ill considered. You need to ask yourselves whether you believe the project board's rhetoric, inaccuracies (which they have repeatedly admitted to in public meetings) and lies? Or whether, looking at the information provided by many people on here, it would actually be possible to maintain our current 3 tier structure if the Purbeck School is properly managed? Ask yourself: What are the REAL issues? What is the REAL motivation behind the proposal? Don't allow them to blind you with false data and reasoning!

Anonymous said...

Re: the last comment, apparently it's relatively cheap to teach KS3 but the costs go up for KS4 when options kick in. DCC want to use the "surplus cash" at KS3 to make it easier to fund KS4 at the Purbeck.

So it plans to get as many children to the Purbeck as possible. It's an easy option and doesn't require very much creative thinking!!

Anonymous said...

URGENT! Purbeck Review Meeting 6:30 pm, Thursday 12th Feb, Swanage Middle School

We need as many people to attend Thursday's meeting as possible to show the strength of opposition to the proposal.

Please remind everyone you meet to look at our website : www.sos-swanage.co.uk to become more informed about our arguments. ( There is also a link to this from the SMS website : www.swanagemiddle.dorset.sch.uk )

Anonymous said...

Echo report - take time to read the comments following the article.
'Much to gain from change', says Purbeck head
7:00pm Sunday 15th February 2009

By Steven Smith »

A HEAD teacher has come out in defence of the controversial reorganisation of the Purbeck education structure.

Richard Holman, head of the Purbeck School in Wareham, said discussions so far had centred too much on what would be lost if the area switched from three tiers to two, rather than what would be gained.

He said: “This is a strategic review of provision across the whole area.

“My point is it’s not the structures that deliver good outcomes, you get good two-tier and good three-tier and the reverse.

“What really matters is having good leadership and good teaching. The structures are just one part, but I understand it’s what people hang on to, because it’s their school.”

Mr Holman said parents had to look at the wider picture.

He added: “People have to remember that virtually every child that starts in a Purbeck first school ends up here [the Purbeck School].

“If nothing changes here our curriculum is going to narrow, because we will not have the resources, and this school will end up in serious decline.”

Mr Holman said that the current amount of subjects offered at A-level – more than 20 – would inevitably shrink.

He added: “There’s been an awful lot of discussion about what will be lost and closed, and that’s fair enough, but there’s not a lot of talk about the vision for the future.

“We’ve got to be able to offer these kids a far better deal, a world-class provision in this area.”

The head teacher went on to say that it was an opportunity to “really invest” in children’s services and “with a bit of creativity and imagination” all the facilities for youngsters in the Purbeck area could be joined up.

CHILDREN and their parents made their point by taking to the streets in protest against plans to change the schools system in Purbeck.

If proposals to switch from a three-tier to two-tier structure go ahead, a primary school would be created on the Swanage Middle School site and the town’s first school would be among several to close its doors.

On Friday, February 13, more than 130 parents and pupils walked from the first school to the middle school to show what it would be like if the changes go ahead.

Emily Wyer, chairman of the Parents’ Association, said: “It took us about 45 minutes from the first school and some people have further to walk than we did.”

She said many parents would end up driving and added: “There were several lorries coming down the road as we walked along. The pavements are very narrow and in some parts there’s no pavements at all, so you have to keep crossing the road.”

Mrs Wyer said 40 invitations were sent out to councillors and officers, but only 10 responded, with only Swanage’s county councillor, Don Hiett, attending.

A Dorset County Council spokesman said the officers and cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Toni Coombs, were unavail-able for the walk.

The spokesman added: “We are aware of the particular issues in Swanage and welcome feedback from people on our proposals. Once the consultation period ends, we will look at all the feedback and may decide that there are areas we need to revisit.”

Anonymous said...

castiron, Swanage says...
10:22pm Sun 15 Feb 09
Mr Holman, what is this vision? All we are being offered is a chance to send our 11 year olds 20 miles each day to a 'satisfactory' comprehensive.

All you plan to do is use the money intended for these key stage 3 pupils to subsidize key stage 4 and A-level pupils - a practice frowned upon by DCSF.

Look at the Ofsted report for Bury St Edmunds County Upper School. Only 900 pupils and yet rated outstanding for the third time in a row - including for its broad curriculum at both GCSE and A-level and for providing value for money. That is a visionary school.

We don't need to disrupt the education of a generation of children to rescue the Purbeck School. All it needs is better management.
Mr Holman, what is this vision? All we are being offered is a chance to send our 11 year olds 20 miles each day to a 'satisfactory' comprehensive. All you plan to do is use the money intended for these key stage 3 pupils to subsidize key stage 4 and A-level pupils - a practice frowned upon by DCSF. Look at the Ofsted report for Bury St Edmunds County Upper School. Only 900 pupils and yet rated outstanding for the third time in a row - including for its broad curriculum at both GCSE and A-level and for providing value for money. That is a visionary school. We don't need to disrupt the education of a generation of children to rescue the Purbeck School. All it needs is better management.


HarryTB, Swanage says...
11:38pm Sun 15 Feb 09
Mr, Holman
I am yet to hear anything positive about 2 tier and the Purbeck School. Your parents meeting was restricted to parents of Pupils at the Purbeck School and excluded prospective parents.
You need to speak to the parents of first school children. They want to hear your plans, see your vision so they can be reassured. Until then, how can you expect anyone to vote in favour of what can only be seen as a money grabbing exercise by the upper school.
As “castiron” says, the process of robbing Key Stage 3 to pay for Key Stage 4 is wrong. Key Stage 3 pupils deserve the best education possible as well.
DCC admit that it could take up to 5 years to build the Upper School, yet they expect pupils to be on site in 3. Teaching for 2 years in a building site will not improve the education of these children.Mr, Holman I am yet to hear anything positive about 2 tier and the Purbeck School. Your parents meeting was restricted to parents of Pupils at the Purbeck School and excluded prospective parents. You need to speak to the parents of first school children. They want to hear your plans, see your vision so they can be reassured. Until then, how can you expect anyone to vote in favour of what can only be seen as a money grabbing exercise by the upper school. As “castiron” says, the process of robbing Key Stage 3 to pay for Key Stage 4 is wrong. Key Stage 3 pupils deserve the best education possible as well. DCC admit that it could take up to 5 years to build the Upper School, yet they expect pupils to be on site in 3. Teaching for 2 years in a building site will not improve the education of these children.


Enough, Swanage says...
1:06am Mon 16 Feb 09
You are so right Mr Holman. It is good leadership and good teaching that make good schools. This proposal suggests closing such good schools (even outstanding).
Would you care to share with us your vision and demonstrate how your good leadership is going to ensure that none of our pupils suffer during the reorganisation? Perhaps too, you could share with us your plans for collaborating with a range of educational institutions (other than Kingston Maurward) to provide the new diplomas and an enhanced 14 to 19 curriculum? Will you be working with Poole and Bournemouth college to enhance the chances of our teenagers?
We would also like some assurance that you have carefully considered how you intend to meet the pastoral needs of our 11 and 12 year olds before we decide whether we trust you with them.
Oh, and one more thing - at the moment our children have access to a wide range of after school clubs in their middle schools and are able to walk home afterwards. Students at Purbeck School, however, have to catch a PUBLIC bus home and this acts as a deterrent for many. I know of several children who were active members of sports clubs in their middle school years and have given these up because they do not like the travelling home arrangements. Is this what we want for even more of our children at a time when the Government is encouraging kids to get fit?


purbeckmum, Swanage says...
8:40am Mon 16 Feb 09
I agree with Mr Holman in that it is teachers and leadership that make great schools. I personally do not think it is the fabric of the buildings, but it is the support of parents and the wider community. What concerns me as a parent of young children in the purbecks is that while we have outstanding and good first schools, the level of secondary provision is not outstanding. Is that down to the buildings, the catchment or the leadership?
I agree that we need to be creative with the review. So far, it has offered nothing except a new building for Swanage. The negative impact is that our children will have to spend the equivalent of a day a week on a bus getting to an average school for two extra years. I would prefer my children to stay in their town, access after school clubs and feel that they will be getting the pastoral support that they require. If Mr Holman wants us to support his school "as virtually every child that starts in a Purbeck first school ends up here ", could he have the decency to share his vision, improve standards and push for some secondary provision to remain in the largest town feeding into his school. Come on Mr Holman, show us your leadership skills, inspire us and we will support you!
I agree with Mr Holman in that it is teachers and leadership that make great schools. I personally do not think it is the fabric of the buildings, but it is the support of parents and the wider community. What concerns me as a parent of young children in the purbecks is that while we have outstanding and good first schools, the level of secondary provision is not outstanding. Is that down to the buildings, the catchment or the leadership? I agree that we need to be creative with the review. So far, it has offered nothing except a new building for Swanage. The negative impact is that our children will have to spend the equivalent of a day a week on a bus getting to an average school for two extra years. I would prefer my children to stay in their town, access after school clubs and feel that they will be getting the pastoral support that they require. If Mr Holman wants us to support his school "as virtually every child that starts in a Purbeck first school ends up here [the Purbeck School]", could he have the decency to share his vision, improve standards and push for some secondary provision to remain in the largest town feeding into his school. Come on Mr Holman, show us your leadership skills, inspire us and we will support you!


Don't get me started, Sandford says...
10:07am Mon 16 Feb 09
In Sandford we are lucky enough at present to opt to go to Lytchett and not satisfactory Purbeck and perhaps that's where some of Mr Holman's problems lie. If we thought he was running a better school parents might send their children there thus reducing his number of surplus places. We are now to have that choice taken away from us in an effort to force parents to use this school.
Stop blowing hot air Mr Holman and put some real information on the table. Parents have a right to know now what it is you intend doing with the only secondary school in the area that we will be allowed to send our children to.

In Sandford we are lucky enough at present to opt to go to Lytchett and not satisfactory Purbeck and perhaps that's where some of Mr Holman's problems lie. If we thought he was running a better school parents might send their children there thus reducing his number of surplus places. We are now to have that choice taken away from us in an effort to force parents to use this school. Stop blowing hot air Mr Holman and put some real information on the table. Parents have a right to know now what it is you intend doing with the only secondary school in the area that we will be allowed to send our children to.


tobydog, Swanage says...
10:34am Mon 16 Feb 09
Nice of you to join the debate at last Mr Holman, but a black mark for being late. As it is your school that is at the root of all the problems leading to the reorganisation proposal, I think you should have been first to comment, not last. You've spoken to parents that will be through the system by the time these changes happen, but not the parents who will have to suffer the Purbeck School in the future. Your comment that "virtually every child that starts in a Purbeck first school ends up here " is precisely the problem. We are stuck with your school and it isn't good enough.

The DCC document fails on basic numeracy and literacy and it fails to show its 'working out'. Like you, it fails to show any vision for the future, instead falling back on old thinking based on centralisation and enlargement. Latest thinking on education, politically and academically, is all about small schools serving local communities, shaped by parents and with pastoral care as well as academic achievement at the heart of everything they do.

As a parent of First School children, all I know of the Purbeck School is that it is the worst in Dorset according to Ofsted and it has a reputation for average results, low aspirations, bullying and a lack of parental involvement. Why the hell would I want to send my kids there???

You talk about having 20 A-levels on offer and that that could shrink. How will having 11 and 12 year olds in the school help keep a broad range of A levels? I know you're nicking money from them to pay for your GCSE classes, but are you allowed to use it to pay for the 6th form too?

And shouldn't you be working in partnership across the local area to ensure that the range of A-levels on offer fits in with other local providers? Thanks to Google, I know that's how it is supposed to work with the new 14-19 curriculum and I imagine that A level provision should be planned in the same way. That said, you and your Governors also have a reputation for failing to work with other local providers at any level.

When I moved to Swanage a few years back I was happy with the execellent choice of first schools, I knew that the middle school was OK and that at least it was nearby, and I thought I had until my eldest was thirteen before I had to face the reality of the 20 mile a day trip to Wareham to go to your school. Now that awful reality could be moving two years closer. People like us won't bring our families and our businesses to Swanage in future if we don't have schools beyond 11 years and other faminilies will do what is best for their children and move away - I can't think of another town of this size that doesn't have a secondary school.

I want to see a secondary school back in Swanage. If our middle school is closed we will have 2 EMPTY secondary school buildings IN OUR TOWN! Wareham and Swanage would either have two small secondaries, which other towns in Dorset seem to cope and do well with, or Purbeck School could be split across two sites, sharing staff and resources but educating children in their own communities.

The problem with falling rolls is partly due to the fact that we have a satisfactory secondary run by Governors and a headteacher lacking in vision, strength and purpose.

There are many more successful schools than yours in Dorset with far fewer children in each year than you project in future. If you can't run a school with that number of children in it then it isn't the structure that should change, it is the leadership, from the top down.

Nice of you to join the debate at last Mr Holman, but a black mark for being late. As it is your school that is at the root of all the problems leading to the reorganisation proposal, I think you should have been first to comment, not last. You've spoken to parents that will be through the system by the time these changes happen, but not the parents who will have to suffer the Purbeck School in the future. Your comment that "virtually every child that starts in a Purbeck first school ends up here [the Purbeck School]" is precisely the problem. We are stuck with your school and it isn't good enough. The DCC document fails on basic numeracy and literacy and it fails to show its 'working out'. Like you, it fails to show any vision for the future, instead falling back on old thinking based on centralisation and enlargement. Latest thinking on education, politically and academically, is all about small schools serving local communities, shaped by parents and with pastoral care as well as academic achievement at the heart of everything they do. As a parent of First School children, all I know of the Purbeck School is that it is the worst in Dorset according to Ofsted and it has a reputation for average results, low aspirations, bullying and a lack of parental involvement. Why the hell would I want to send my kids there??? You talk about having 20 A-levels on offer and that that could shrink. How will having 11 and 12 year olds in the school help keep a broad range of A levels? I know you're nicking money from them to pay for your GCSE classes, but are you allowed to use it to pay for the 6th form too? And shouldn't you be working in partnership across the local area to ensure that the range of A-levels on offer fits in with other local providers? Thanks to Google, I know that's how it is supposed to work with the new 14-19 curriculum and I imagine that A level provision should be planned in the same way. That said, you and your Governors also have a reputation for failing to work with other local providers at any level. When I moved to Swanage a few years back I was happy with the execellent choice of first schools, I knew that the middle school was OK and that at least it was nearby, and I thought I had until my eldest was thirteen before I had to face the reality of the 20 mile a day trip to Wareham to go to your school. Now that awful reality could be moving two years closer. People like us won't bring our families and our businesses to Swanage in future if we don't have schools beyond 11 years and other faminilies will do what is best for their children and move away - I can't think of another town of this size that doesn't have a secondary school. I want to see a secondary school back in Swanage. If our middle school is closed we will have 2 EMPTY secondary school buildings IN OUR TOWN! Wareham and Swanage would either have two small secondaries, which other towns in Dorset seem to cope and do well with, or Purbeck School could be split across two sites, sharing staff and resources but educating children in their own communities. The problem with falling rolls is partly due to the fact that we have a satisfactory secondary run by Governors and a headteacher lacking in vision, strength and purpose. There are many more successful schools than yours in Dorset with far fewer children in each year than you project in future. If you can't run a school with that number of children in it then it isn't the structure that should change, it is the leadership, from the top down.


viceaddsspice, Swanage says...
11:20am Mon 16 Feb 09
Much to gain? Where? How? If there is a vision, Mr Holman, you need to get out of the comfort zone of your school and actually visit the children and parents in the schools that will be directly affected by propping up your less than attractive educational establishment.
Have you responded positvely to invitations to discuss what the Purbeck School can offer 11 year olds?
Where is your factual evidence that huge secondary schools benefit children socially or academically?
To date our Middle School Heads have been far more proactive and encouraging to parents and pupils.
When are you going to start?Much to gain? Where? How? If there is a vision, Mr Holman, you need to get out of the comfort zone of your school and actually visit the children and parents in the schools that will be directly affected by propping up your less than attractive educational establishment. Have you responded positvely to invitations to discuss what the Purbeck School can offer 11 year olds? Where is your factual evidence that huge secondary schools benefit children socially or academically? To date our Middle School Heads have been far more proactive and encouraging to parents and pupils. When are you going to start?


Jurassic Rock, swanage says...
11:27am Mon 16 Feb 09
Vision is precisely what the proposal lacks.
Creativity and a holistic view is what is needed. How patronising to assume that the intelligent and concerned people of the area cannot see the big picture. One read of these comments will disabuse Mr Holman of that opinion!

How can Mr Holman expect people to buy into his 'vision' for the future, when he won't even talk to them? Talking to parents whose children will be unaffected is a safe option. No meeting for parents whose children this will affect hugely, is offered.

Ofsted (in the current publication 'Effective Sixth Forms') state that sixth forms should not be subsidised by the lower school. National experts are amazed John Nash is so blatantly stating that KS4 would be subsidised by KS3 students, now Mr Holman is stating that having 11 and 12 year old children's funding will also prop up the sixth form. This is outrageous!

Nowhere is it stated how collaboration will provide a vibrant, broad and exciting new curriculum. The DCSF say this is the key to building viable classes to run the new diplomas (read DCSF Delivering 14 -19 in Rural Areas). How can 11 and 12 year olds help the education of 14 - 19 year olds, unless their own education is compromised? Collaborating with Lytchett, Poole and Bournemouth College of FE, local employers as well as Kingston Maurward could create a successful and effective education that would not ill-use our KS3 children.

How can it be morally supportable to ask our 11 and 12 year olds in Swanage to travel almost twice the national average distance to a secondary school (even for a rural area this average is 6.1 miles - 3 miles for an urban area), to spend the equivalent of one teaching day on a bus, to sit in a split site, in larger classes, just so that the Purbeck School can ignore DCSF and Ofsted guidance and use their funding to pay for older children.

Mr Holman, I ask you to compare this VISION! with that of schools based in their local communities, playing to local strengths (the World Heritage site / tourism industry) to deliver specialist diplomas in a truly world class framework. Compare the time spent on busses to that spent in a wide variety of active extended school clubs. Compare the isolation of Purbeck school and the lack of vision in using KS3 funding to what could be achieved by thriving partnerships with other educational institutions. For inspiration and vision, look to Bury St Edmunds County Upper. That is what a truly visionary and outward looking school looks like.

Demand better for our children!Vision is precisely what the proposal lacks. Creativity and a holistic view is what is needed. How patronising to assume that the intelligent and concerned people of the area cannot see the big picture. One read of these comments will disabuse Mr Holman of that opinion! How can Mr Holman expect people to buy into his 'vision' for the future, when he won't even talk to them? Talking to parents whose children will be unaffected is a safe option. No meeting for parents whose children this will affect hugely, is offered. Ofsted (in the current publication 'Effective Sixth Forms') state that sixth forms should not be subsidised by the lower school. National experts are amazed John Nash is so blatantly stating that KS4 would be subsidised by KS3 students, now Mr Holman is stating that having 11 and 12 year old children's funding will also prop up the sixth form. This is outrageous! Nowhere is it stated how collaboration will provide a vibrant, broad and exciting new curriculum. The DCSF say this is the key to building viable classes to run the new diplomas (read DCSF Delivering 14 -19 in Rural Areas). How can 11 and 12 year olds help the education of 14 - 19 year olds, unless their own education is compromised? Collaborating with Lytchett, Poole and Bournemouth College of FE, local employers as well as Kingston Maurward could create a successful and effective education that would not ill-use our KS3 children. How can it be morally supportable to ask our 11 and 12 year olds in Swanage to travel almost twice the national average distance to a secondary school (even for a rural area this average is 6.1 miles - 3 miles for an urban area), to spend the equivalent of one teaching day on a bus, to sit in a split site, in larger classes, just so that the Purbeck School can ignore DCSF and Ofsted guidance and use their funding to pay for older children. Mr Holman, I ask you to compare this VISION! with that of schools based in their local communities, playing to local strengths (the World Heritage site / tourism industry) to deliver specialist diplomas in a truly world class framework. Compare the time spent on busses to that spent in a wide variety of active extended school clubs. Compare the isolation of Purbeck school and the lack of vision in using KS3 funding to what could be achieved by thriving partnerships with other educational institutions. For inspiration and vision, look to Bury St Edmunds County Upper. That is what a truly visionary and outward looking school looks like. Demand better for our children!

Anonymous said...

Some excellent points here. Whilst I may still have my doubts about the prospects of re-establishing full secondary education here in Swanage, the issues being raised go far beyond the initial DCC “consultation document” – which now looks very bland in comparison.

I also totally agree that by only consulting with parents of existing pupils (who will be long gone if/when the proposed scheme is introduced) the Head of Purbeck School gives the impression of deliberately avoiding a meaningful discussion.

Anonymous said...

Full secondary education in Swanage might be impossible, but a satellite of the Purbeck School definitely is not. The new 14 - 19 curriculum makes many demands on schools but offers many opportunities. There is an expectation on schools to form strong partnerships with other institutions, including work-based learning, schools, colleges, and skills centres. It requires shared timetabling between institutions so that pupils and staff do not make more than one journey between home and school each day. Therefore, it is entirely possible that Swanage could form a satellite school offering a core curriculum over set days in the week, and then certain specialist diplomas which play to the world-class strengths of the area: These could involve the Jurassic coastline, and tourism and hospitality industry, possible health and social care (care of the elderly) etc. Students who wished to study these diplomas would come to Swanage on these days, whilst students following other courses would go to their centre for those days. The DCSF states that it is essential for any size institution to form a wide variety of partnerships. It would not take too much creative thinking to come up with a much better quality solution for our children than is currently proposed. Check out DCSF publication - Delivering 14 - 19 Curriculum in Rural Areas. We need proper consultation, that values input from our community and from leading experts, rather than a hasty, insular and short-sighted response.

Anonymous said...

6.01 pm, I thought there was a statement prepared and signed by all the purbeck first school heads, and the Purbeck school head, in favour of a move to 2 tier.

Does anyone know why they did this. It has also been said that two first schools did not sign, hoorah for those that have been thinking outside the box! Keep relations strong between first and middles.

Paul Angel said...

All the comments from the Review team recently seems to be that they are going to think again. What would be nice would be if all the schools in Swanage, first and middle, could talk to each other and although they may not agree a way forward precisely, they can at least share their views with each other on what they see for the future of Swanage's children.

There's been so much division through all of this and we need to work together as parents and as schools to support each other if another school is threatened with closure or an unwanted move. It puts me in mind of the poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller:

"First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me."

If we stick up for each other against threats from DCC, we can really do what's best for all of our children and not just those in our individual schools.

Anonymous said...

I really miss the debate on here has everyone run out of ideas? There's some interesting reading on the website of the school adjudicator where a similar issue was resolved in Lowestoft.

Anonymous said...

Hi, please can you post the link to the adjudicator site? Many thanks.

The likelihood of the Purbeck proposal being referred to the adjudicator in due course must be quite high?

Anonymous said...

It's at http://www.schoolsadjudicator.gov.uk

I think Swanage is highly likely to go to adjudication. I hear that some schools are being revisited by the project team. does anyone know more?