Leicester District
National Education Union

3rd December 2008

Snatch!

Most of us would enjoy being given large sums of money for free and going on a spree to spend it on ..... . (just fill in the dotted line.)

But supposing that money had first been taken from other people - not the rich but from the most disadvantaged in our city? How would you feel then? Guilty, yes - possibly even criminal?

Well, this scenario is no fantasy. Let’s take just two episodes in recent weeks in the city. Firstly, Ofsted visit two primary schools in special measures that serve communities that experience significant disadvantage, Fosse and Marriott. Ofsted then delivers some savage criticisms of parts of the Local Authority.

Now, much of the country has been brainwashed by 30 years of ‘Animal Farm’ type propaganda, that private=good, public=bad, but guess what? The parts of the Local Authority that are staffed by traditional public sector workers received a complimentary billing, so let’s name them with pride: property services, special educational needs service, the Educational Psychology service and others.

The part that is stuffed with private consultants (including those who have wangled a longer standing berth) - Learning Services - is the one savaged by Ofsted. Let me reiterate a crucial fact. These people have had salaries showered on them way above those of our public servants, plus the hotel meals, taxis and other expenses. Snatch!

Snatch 2! Academies, we are told, are the salvation of English education because they reflect the private sector and are outside LA control, i.e. unaccountable to your democratic representatives. Now schools are being told that finance is tight and that we are in a no growth situation. But guess what? Someone has decided to give some of Leicester schools’ scarce money gratis to Samworth Academy - money that should have gone to the most vulnerable pupils in Leicester.

So, at the same time that demand for Pupil Referral placements is now so great that there are proposals for a third location in the city, Samworth Academy has been given - for free - 10% of existing places - yes, 10%. These are places that legally they should have paid for but they are being given them for free.

Similarly, the city’s Behaviour Support Team is giving a ‘high proportion’ of their time to Samworth Academy - again for free. What Samworth gets is snatched from other children in the city. No wonder they were commended in their Ofsted monitoring for their low exclusion rate and support for pupils.

In other words, we have a Learning Services that leaves its own disadvantaged communities to stew because it is giving money hand over fist to Samworth Academy, who are meant to operate outside LA control! So, we have an LA that gives to those who have and takes from those who have not. Snatch!

 

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