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> Failing schools - what's the answer?, what to do with John O Gaunt
Bofem
post Jan 13 2011, 08:22 AM
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What to do with John O Gaunt School? Who cares, it's in Hungerford, I hear you yell, but it's kinda relevant to us all.

You see, JOG (as they call it out that way) is only two thirds full, and WBC predicts that falling numbers will continue unless something's done (see p50 of this)

I believe this is largely to do with the huge number of JOG catchment kids who go to St Barts sixth form. Why? Is it because JOG employs people like this?

Anyway, what to do? WBC's attitude is usually to ignore the problem ("Our schools are very good...blah blah"), or to massage the figures by merging infants and juniors (I hear John Rankin is next), or shuffling catchments (like when Cold Ash was taken away from Kennet and transferred to Trinity).

Some options to consider...

Close JOG and open up an academy out that way (outside WBC control)
Force more kids to attend JOG (stricter catchment rules)
Make it more attractive by wasting money on shiny new school buildings (most likely WBC option)










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GMR
post Jan 13 2011, 05:32 PM
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The question is why are schools failing? Bad teaching, kids out of control and bad management structure.

Take Trinity; it went down hill. But when Mrs Roscoe was in charge it was a brilliant school. My daughter went there and then onto university. She loved it. So did her friends. My son also liked it. When Mrs Roscoe left it went down hill. Why? They put a yank in. One yank and the school was down... literally! I am not saying it was because she was an American, but it was something she didn't do right. There should be no bad schools; bad schools mean we've failed our kids. Somebody must be responsible for that.
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Rachel
post Jan 13 2011, 11:43 PM
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QUOTE (Bofem @ Jan 13 2011, 09:22 AM) *
What to do with John O Gaunt School? Who cares, it's in Hungerford, I hear you yell, but it's kinda relevant to us all.

You see, JOG (as they call it out that way) is only two thirds full, and WBC predicts that falling numbers will continue unless something's done (see p50 of this)

I believe this is largely to do with the huge number of JOG catchment kids who go to St Barts sixth form. Why? Is it because JOG employs people like this?

Anyway, what to do? WBC's attitude is usually to ignore the problem ("Our schools are very good...blah blah"), or to massage the figures by merging infants and juniors (I hear John Rankin is next), or shuffling catchments (like when Cold Ash was taken away from Kennet and transferred to Trinity).

Some options to consider...

Close JOG and open up an academy out that way (outside WBC control)
Force more kids to attend JOG (stricter catchment rules)
Make it more attractive by wasting money on shiny new school buildings (most likely WBC option)


This teacher was employed by whoever was on the personnel committee at JOG back in 2007. They were not the first people to employ him, but were clearly lead to believe by former employers he was capable (otherwise one assumes they wouldn't have employed him?) This indicates to me that, for reasons unknown, they were duped into giving him a job possibly with references which weren't completely truthful. That committee, I would imagine, is long gone, but would probably argue that they had been mislead into taking someone on by a former school that were glad to see him go, & if recent reports are to be believed, this may be the truth. Once JOG realised they had a problem, they did what they had to; place him under guidance to help him achieve, but he wasn't able to do so & left. Alternitively, they could have sacked him on the spot & he'd have sued their backside for unfair dismissal...& probably won, costing West Berks (& us) thousands. One could say that JOG should be applauded for "outing" this incapable teacher & saving all our children from him;something a previous school should have done previously, but chose the easier option of moving him on.

No school should be judged for employing 1 poor teacher 3.5 years ago. They messed up with 1 teacher, tried to put it right using means within employment laws & I suspect they've learned much from the experience.

A school should be judged purely on an individual basis; not on a newspaper report, a former pupil or employee's memories, or gossip. If a parent is choosing a school, they should go & see for themselves, go to meet the Head & staff, see a normal school day, watch the pupils as they go between lessons, look at some work, but more than anything go in real time; don't go on what was happening 3 years ago when a school was in Special Measures, with different staff & pupils.

What should we do with John O Gaunt? Let Mr Spurdell & his Staff get on with the job of turning JOG around, support the school into the future & stop digging up the past! I've visited JOG several times in different roles over the past 18 months & I've found Neil Spurdell to be a good, energetic, focused, respected, inspiring Head Teacher, a genuine kind of bloke, a pretty good egg. He's started the upward turn & he knows how to get results, & from what I have seen his staff are with him in a determination to put JOG on the map for all the right reasons.
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Richard Garvie
post Jan 14 2011, 12:21 AM
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Having seen Barbara Alexander in action tonight... God help our kids!!!
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Rachel
post Jan 14 2011, 12:38 AM
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Did anyone notice the 50% surplus of places at Shefford Primary School? That's food for thought....
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Iommi
post Jan 14 2011, 12:41 AM
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The biggest problem I see with having good teachers: teacher unions. Check the figures on the percentage of sacked teachers.
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Andy1
post Jan 14 2011, 09:13 AM
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What is a failing School ? Today the answer would seem to be a school that doesn't meet targets, isn't high in the league table, doesn't get good exam results. Today it seems to be what is the most important thing about a school rather than who is the most important person in it.
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Richard Garvie
post Jan 14 2011, 09:45 AM
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The Conservative members last night asked for a report and actions to be approved by the council... This report had been commisioned in March 09 and the actions had been implemented in September 09. Why is the council asking for it's approval now, almost 18 months later and with most actions having been completed? What if the report had not been acceptable?

Totally agree about coffee culture, and I actually agree with some of what Strafin is saying. We need to have a major look at reducing the debt and the budget deficit, both nationally and locally. But lets do it in a responsible way.
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dannyboy
post Jan 14 2011, 10:17 AM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jan 14 2011, 09:45 AM) *
The Conservative members last night asked for a report and actions to be approved by the council... This report had been commisioned in March 09 and the actions had been implemented in September 09. Why is the council asking for it's approval now, almost 18 months later and with most actions having been completed? What if the report had not been acceptable?

What do you think the reasons are?
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Bofem
post Jan 14 2011, 12:43 PM
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QUOTE (Rachel @ Jan 13 2011, 11:43 PM) *
What should we do with John O Gaunt? Let Mr Spurdell & his Staff get on with the job of turning JOG around, support the school into the future & stop digging up the past! I've visited JOG several times in different roles over the past 18 months & I've found Neil Spurdell to be a good, energetic, focused, respected, inspiring Head Teacher, a genuine kind of bloke, a pretty good egg. He's started the upward turn & he knows how to get results, & from what I have seen his staff are with him in a determination to put JOG on the map for all the right reasons.


I should hope so on £100k a year of our money! I am sure he could do an even better job if he was cut loose from WBC control.



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Roost
post Jan 14 2011, 02:08 PM
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I remember the days of DWE 'Bruce' Lee. Now that was a headmaster!!!

Incidentally, just harking back to the original post and the comment in relation to falling numbers, the document does actually say that they anticipate an increase (albeit small) in numbers up to 2015 but that they need to do something more to increase this.

Pedantic I know so I apologise!

PS Why does Mr Garvie's response to anything seem to be "We need an enquiry!" or "commission a report!". Yes, lets spend some more taxpayers money in this increasingly hard times.


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dannyboy
post Jan 14 2011, 02:17 PM
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QUOTE (Roost @ Jan 14 2011, 02:08 PM) *
PS Why does Mr Garvie's response to anything seem to be "We need an enquiry!" or "commission a report!". Yes, lets spend some more taxpayers money in this increasingly hard times.

Precicely to waste money, and time for the Council.
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Richard Garvie
post Jan 14 2011, 03:42 PM
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QUOTE (Roost @ Jan 14 2011, 02:08 PM) *
I remember the days of DWE 'Bruce' Lee. Now that was a headmaster!!!

Incidentally, just harking back to the original post and the comment in relation to falling numbers, the document does actually say that they anticipate an increase (albeit small) in numbers up to 2015 but that they need to do something more to increase this.

Pedantic I know so I apologise!

PS Why does Mr Garvie's response to anything seem to be "We need an enquiry!" or "commission a report!". Yes, lets spend some more taxpayers money in this increasingly hard times.


And where did I say that regarding this issue?
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NWNREADER
post Jan 14 2011, 03:53 PM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jan 14 2011, 03:42 PM) *
And where did I say that regarding this issue?


Don't think he said you did, regarding this issue.

But you do ask rhetorical questions of Forum Members when your proper question, worded for product, not political waffle, should be directed to the proper Officer/Member of the Council....

"Can you explain why the ........ Report, completed on ........ and apparently implemented already, was only approved by the Members on ............?"

I know you don't do simple and direct, but it can be a way to get a result as opposed to extend a conversation.....
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Richard Garvie
post Jan 14 2011, 04:11 PM
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QUOTE (NWNREADER @ Jan 14 2011, 03:53 PM) *
Don't think he said you did, regarding this issue.

But you do ask rhetorical questions of Forum Members when your proper question, worded for product, not political waffle, should be directed to the proper Officer/Member of the Council....

"Can you explain why the ........ Report, completed on ........ and apparently implemented already, was only approved by the Members on ............?"

I know you don't do simple and direct, but it can be a way to get a result as opposed to extend a conversation.....


Is it my fault that when the council was asked to provide a report in March of 2009, they are only just bringing that to the council chamber? All I'd like to know is why the report has taken so long, why the actions have been completed before they were approved by the council and why Mrs Alexander believes that the recent OFSTED report is not representative of the schools in West Berkshire?
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NWNREADER
post Jan 14 2011, 04:27 PM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jan 14 2011, 04:11 PM) *
Is it my fault that when the council was asked to provide a report in March of 2009, they are only just bringing that to the council chamber? All I'd like to know is why the report has taken so long, why the actions have been completed before they were approved by the council and why Mrs Alexander believes that the recent OFSTED report is not representative of the schools in West Berkshire?


Then ask the appropriate Officer/Member.

As regards Mrs Alexander, I haven't seen any mention of her previously, or the subject you now introduce.
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Richard Garvie
post Jan 14 2011, 04:56 PM
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QUOTE (NWNREADER @ Jan 14 2011, 04:27 PM) *
Then ask the appropriate Officer/Member.

As regards Mrs Alexander, I haven't seen any mention of her previously, or the subject you now introduce.


It was brought up at the exec member meeting, and Mrs Alexander blustered an answer that didn't add up. Something to do with staff illness if I remember correctly. But for a report to take almost two years on something as serious as our schools failing to perform, it doesn't seem to me like the Conservatives are treating this as a priority. Either that or they believe they can just do whatever they like, and bring it to the council chamber whenever they like. I would ask Cllr Stansfield (head of performance) as to why he allowed this report to be delayed and then implemented before it came before the council, but he won't speak to me because I exposed the CCTV issue!!!
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NWNREADER
post Jan 14 2011, 05:11 PM
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QUOTE (Richard Garvie @ Jan 14 2011, 04:56 PM) *
It was brought up at the exec member meeting, and Mrs Alexander blustered an answer that didn't add up. Something to do with staff illness if I remember correctly. But for a report to take almost two years on something as serious as our schools failing to perform, it doesn't seem to me like the Conservatives are treating this as a priority. Either that or they believe they can just do whatever they like, and bring it to the council chamber whenever they like. I would ask Cllr Stansfield (head of performance) as to why he allowed this report to be delayed and then implemented before it came before the council, but he won't speak to me because I exposed the CCTV issue!!!


So Mrs A is a separate issue entirely.... Ok.

All the rest is your standard words rather than action. Cllr Stansfield is not especially accountable to you, so write to your Member - the one for the Ward where you live - and ask him to tell you the timeline. Go back with supplementaries after that. Otherwise you cloud the issue with point sccoring and open all sorts of get-outs.
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user23
post Jan 14 2011, 05:18 PM
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QUOTE (Roost @ Jan 14 2011, 02:08 PM) *
Why does Mr Garvie's response to anything seem to be "We need an enquiry!" or "commission a report!". Yes, lets spend some more taxpayers money in this increasingly hard times.
It's standard politicking. Invent a problem then call for enquiry implying you're the person to fix the problem, creating a role for yourself. I believe it's Page 32 of the Junior Politician's Playbook Richard uses. wink.gif

The trick is not to over do it and call for an enquiry or a report for everything or you'll loose any credibility one might have.
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Richard Garvie
post Jan 14 2011, 05:24 PM
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QUOTE (NWNREADER @ Jan 14 2011, 05:11 PM) *
So Mrs A is a separate issue entirely.... Ok.

All the rest is your standard words rather than action. Cllr Stansfield is not especially accountable to you, so write to your Member - the one for the Ward where you live - and ask him to tell you the timeline. Go back with supplementaries after that. Otherwise you cloud the issue with point sccoring and open all sorts of get-outs.


We will obviously set out our own plans regarding education, but at this time all we can do is raise questions as to the council and it's conduct on issues like this. What would I do differently? Maybe follow the council process to start with. The process should have been prepare report, indentify actions, report to council, council approve, take actions as set out by report. This is just another example of the council not following it's own process, and maybe this should have been highlighted before now.
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