Sunday, 24 February 2013

Motion says council should have school admission powers

COUNCILLORS will this week be urged to support giving Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council back control of school admissions.

Click the headline or link below to read the rest of this story.

The call from Labour Chelmsley Wood councillor Nick Stephens comes in the wake of a row about admissions at Tudor Grange Academy.

Using powers afforded it by academy status, the Solihull school is proposing to give priority to children from two Church of England primary schools if it is oversubscribed.

Pupils from St James and St Alphege schools would get priority over catchment area children.

The Conservative-run council has warned this could “destabilise” its current arrangements and see some local children miss out on a place.

 The school has branded this concern “groundless” as there are currently more than enough places for catchment area children and there will be until at least 2019.

The motion to Thursday’scouncil meeting says: “This council calls on the government to give back to local authorities the responsibility for setting admission criteria for the schools in their area, whether such schools are academies or local authority schools.

“The council calls upon the Local Government Association to support this proposal".

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  1. If you read the Academies Commission report "Unleashing Greatness" it shows that Academies cause disproportionately more problems with Admissions than other admissions authorities. Academies are businesses who have financial drivers that don't always encourage them to act responsibly. They should not have responsibility for admissions policies.

  2. I think something needs to be done to police academies. Too much power resides in a very small body of governors who have the power to alter a school irrevocably, as could be the case with Tudor Grange Academy, whose mission it appears is more to do with empire building and inflicting it's own faith ethos than serving the community it has been part of for decades. I find it abhorrent that Tudor Grange could give so little thought to the impact of these changes on siblings and children who may be out of catchment but close enough to walk. If Tudor Grange has spare places available at the end of the process why shouldn't they be available to geographically proximate children? I see no rationale coming from Tudor Grange as to why affluent parents from St Alphege or distance children from St James should have preference. Close, out of catchment children have made up an average of 20% of Tudor Grange's intake over the last five years. What a contemptuous way to disregard these children: to not even consider their needs or offer an explanation as to why they are no longer deemed worthy.
    As a final thought, what a cynical way to improve your performance in league tables: cherry picking the brightest in the borough. Shame on you Tudor Grange! Would it have been too much to expect a leading academy to instead have explored making the curriculum more dynamic or developing teaching excellence? Perhaps you have run out of ideas.

    1. If you knew anything at all about the profile of St James students you would realise how inaccurate this statement is. Tudor Grange were asked to help two schools in deep trouble. At Worcester they have done an amazing job. I am sure this will be repeated at St James. They were asked to help!!! To then use cliched platitudes of empire building is meaningless rhetoric. Tudor Grange is one of the most innovative Teaching Schools in the country it is one of only two in the country that has been allowed to take full responsibility for training teachers. Doesn't sound like a school that has run out of ideas.

      There is definitely less to some of these comments than meets the eye!

  3. There are a number of issues. This is indirect discrimination and breaches the Equality Act 2010. Tudor Grange Academy is now a limited company with three directors. They would be wise to be mindful of their responsibilities under the Comapnies Act 2006 which requires directors to avoid situations which can arise through conflicts of interest. The executive principal, Jennifer Bexon-Smith, is a trustee of the Diocese of Birmingham Education Trust since March 2012. I'd call that a conflict of interest. One of the directors, Dr Peter Rock, was until recently a member of the St Alphege Parish Church Council. I'd call that a conflict of interest. Tudor Grange is a limited company with directors in charge of a £5m per annum business (most of which is still the taxpayers money) and yet they're demonstrating the business acumen of a football club owner. They would do well to keep in mind a well known expression, "the customer's always right". As for Academies; we've got what we deserved. Tony Blair sneaked these in on the basis that it would only be for failing schools. Michael Gove has now picked up the baton and seems hell-bent on producing Education plc at any cost. If you value your local school, if you want equality for your children, if you want education to be fair, object to this and write to your MP voicing your dissent. You've been warned.

  4. A labour councillor from the north of the borough makes this call. This is followed by the blatant anti academies comments from above. There are obviously both political and secular perspectives here! The academies commission report was totally predictable and inaccurate. It was inevitable because of who the authors were. Well known for their views about Academies. Only a court can establish whether there are breaches of a an act ! Even the council in their recent report on this issue commented that TGA were operating within the admissions code. What is this conflict of interest rubbish? Conflict between what and what?

    The council had already decided that some children who live close to the school would not be in the catchment area. They had also decided they wanted to close St James. Basically some councillors cannot stand the thought that a decision could be made without them! This is a minor issue that will impact on very small numbers and will not affect catchment area families. The out of catchment children are going against other schools and the system the council tried to create. The issue is that Tudor Grange is fantastically successful. Tudor Grange is not a limited company ! It is a charitable trust whose directors are limited in their liability by guarantee. The inaccuracies above are deliberately meant to mislead, this issue is being used by people with wider motives.

    I admire the school for taking on St James when others wanted to close it. They have given the school their name and brought them into their family, I see nothing wrong at all indeed it is admirable and I wish them every success!

  5. A number of years ago SolihullMBC embraced Academies and asked for them in Solihull. That is how they got millions from Blairs government to rebuild schools in the north of the borough. It was exactly the right decision those schools deserved the investment. They always knew the freedoms they had including admissions. These freedoms also apply to foundation and aided schools, not only academies. I get a strong smell of hypocrisy when a councillor from Chelmsley Wood stands on his very high horse!

  6. Yes, Solihull MBC also supported an evangelical Chistian sponsor for the first Academy in Chelmsley Wood. that smell of hypocrisy just keeps on getting stronger !

  7. Politicians asking for more powers!!! Surely not!

  8. Political posturing by the council. They have not had this control for decades. Aided schools have had this responsibility for decades. This would be a bit like a motion at a Trade Union conference. Allows people to think they are important and will have no chance of any impact whatsoever.

  9. As far as I am concerned a school should reflect and serve its community. Tudor Grange is not a faith school so why should it favour 2 faith schools in its admissions policy?

    As far as I am concerned, faith should be kept out of school, schools are about education and preparing children for the life ahead, you do not have to be religious to teach values! We only have to look around the world today to see the problems religion causes.

    Also, with 12 out of the secondary schools in Solihull now Academies, what is to stop the other Academies bringing in polices which discriminate, nothing currently.

    Children will be removed from perfectly good schools in the Borough to attend the two feeder schools just to get them in to Tudor Grange, not because they are practising Christians! How hypocritical!

    So let's not worry either about the increase of traffic that this will bring to the roads in the vicinity on Tudor Grange when children who are unable to walk or get a local bus to school are ferried in by their parents to the detriment of local children!

    People need to wake up and smell the coffee, I applaud Tudor Grange for coming to the rescue of St James, no one is against this but if Tudor Grange do not think the chances will displace catchment children then why priorities them!

    And for the record, I am a non practising CofE parent who is concerned about the education of my children and those within the Borough. I do not live in Tudor Grange catchment, so these changes won't directly affect my children BUT the domino effect may well do and that is the reason why I believe it is wrong.

  10. The admissions policies for both academies and schools should remain as those based on catchment and geographical proximity to the school. This will ensure that schools serve their local communities. Children can make their way independently to school and will have friends in their local area, meaning that they are able to socialise with their friends at weekends and evenings without the need to be ferried around by their parents, thus impacting upon the environment.
    No-one I have spoken to has an issue with TGA supporting St James school - but where is the justification for bribing parents to send their children there with the guarantee of a place at TGA? If they are so confident in their successful management and teaching, then they should be happy to work with the school's current intake of pupils!
    'Tudor Grange is one of the most innovative Teaching Schools in the country it is one of only two in the country that has been allowed to take full responsibility for training teachers.' - local families want their local school to focus upon teaching local children - not on raising their national profile at the expense of the community they promised to continue serving at the time of converting to an academy!

    1. Typically short sighted and parochial. By training the best teachers it enables you to continually recruit the best so that your students benefit both now and in the long term. Wit is not about national profile that is the cliched comment that is too simplistic.

      t the moment significant numbers travel by car and bus from the catchment area that goes out a long way. many parents choose to reject their catchment school for another preference. That is what choice is all about. going to the nearest school does not always work in urban areas. There are hundreds of Birmingham students in Solihull schools is anyone suggesting they should be rejected? St James is part of the same organisation that is why it is called Tudor Grange St James now. The school have been very clear that they are confident catchment area families will not be affected. I am really struggling to see what the issue here is!

    2. Unless you are...
      A) Church of England
      B) Regularly attend church in Shirley or Solihull with written proof from vicar
      C) get a place at either Junior school
      D) Meet all the above criteria

      YOU WILL BE EFFECTED regardless of where you live. So yes they are 'suggesting' rejecting Bham children in favour of the A to D above. A 'non-CofE' child (take your pick of relgions and non)coming from anywhere will have less chance of accessing this excellent school if the changes go through.

      Please note TG is a non faith school. Those opposed are fighting for equal opportunities for all religions/backgrounds/locality and the numbers issued are not guaranteed or to be trusted.

  11. The massive majority of students will come from the catchment area probably in excess of 75%. It is obvious they will reduce the number at St James in order to go to younger year groups. They are not proposing all the the criteria you have put above only C. Not all of the children are from Cof E background there are a large number who simply chose the school. At St James ANYONE has been able to get in because they are not full. There is not a Cof E secondary school in Solihull. Two catholic schools. I believe the council have been discriminatory by not providing continuity for C of E primary pupils as they do for Catholic. After all it is the established church of this country. The St Alphege numbers are insignificant. I would leave them out or put them below catchment in the priority order. I totally agree with Tudor Grange showing their long term commitment to Tudor Grange St James when others, particularly the council have done as much as they can to close them down. They have suffered uncertainty for years while most have "walked on the other side". The numbers will be very small but the statement of commitment is enormous. Churchill put it well. "what we get let's us live what we give gives us a life" . Giving a little can make a massive difference to families at St James. I totally admire Tudor Grange for their commitment and for their courage and wish them every success!

    1. Appeasing a change because of a 'massive majority'. 'I have in my hand a piece of paper'... you sir, are a blinkered fool

    2. Anonymous 1828 here. Anonymous 22.33. Fantastically witty response really made me smile!

      I suspect I would disagree with you on a number of things but would probably enjoy your company.

  12. I used to work at St James so am pleased that the school has been kept open, although anyone saying that Tudor Grange saved it obviously doesn't know the full story. Tudor Grange are clearly empire building, taking on a C of E school when they are a non-faith school and trying to take pupils from other surrounding junior schools, using Tudor Grange Secondary as bait.

  13. Empire building??? More like allotment building?