APF demands open and democratic consultation for the parents and staff of Small Heath School while matters are at a formative stage.
Analysis by Henry Stewart for the Local Schools Network of the latest GCSE data once again shows that non-academies improve faster than academies. The evidence now is overwhelming, yet schools like Small Heath in Birmingham are still being forced to become academies against the wishes of parents and staff.
Small Heath parents handed in a 800+ name petition to the Council in September demanding consultation. Over four months later and parents are still waiting for a response. As time goes on the lack of communication with parents about the plans for their school has become dysfunctional, resulting in peculiarities such as the Small Heath IEB claiming there are no academy plans, whilst the students sit through assemblies on the merits of academy conversion.
In denying Small Heath parents a consultation the Council is failing to implement its own policy, and in so doing is betraying the interests of its citizens and needlessly strengthening the hand of the DfE. The Birmingham Overview and Scrutiny Report ‘Strengthening the Birmingham Family of Schools’ includes the following recommendation in section 4.8;
That the Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services:
ii) Publicises that there is a clear expectation from the City Council that governing bodies considering academy conversion, whether voluntarily or under the instruction of the Department for Education, conduct open and democratic consultation while matters are still at a formative stage;
The key phrase here is ‘while matters are still at a formative stage’. This is a prerequisite for meaningful – and indeed legal – consultation. The style of consultation favoured by the DfE – consultation by the academy sponsor after an academy order has been made will not cut it. By no stretch of the imagination can this constitute open and democratic consultation at a formative stage.
Birmingham City Council must stop colluding with the DfE in such a pointless and demeaning exercise that damages and disempowers local communities.
Follow the Small Heath Parent Campaign on Twitter @Posh_campaign
Parents are holding a public meeting on 28th January, 5-7pm at the Bia Lounge, B10 0JU.
UPDATE, 28 January 2016
In a further development, Shabana Mahmood MP has written an open letter to Cllr John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council asking him to sort out the situation at Small Heath School. Here is the text of her letter which she posted on Facebook yesterday;
Dear Cllr John Clancy,
I am writing regarding Small Heath School. You will be aware that a number of teachers there have decided to strike for a period of 9 days. I understand that they are striking because of putative plans to turn the school into an academy.
However I have been told by Peter Hay (Strategic Director) that there are currently no plans to academise Small Heath School.
I have spoken to many parents who also tell me there are plans to academise the school. I have spoken to staff at the school who tell me they have had no communication from the LEA to let them know whether there are plans to academise the school.
This is clearly a completely ridiculous situation.
I would ask if you could use your offices to arrange urgent mediation and also to ensure that all staff, teachers and parents receive written confirmation of the Council’s plans with regard to academisation.
I would like to see the school back fully functioning as soon as possible, as this situation is detrimental to the childrens’ learning.