Following scant local reporting on the subject until the last week, the Brentwood public would have been forgiven for thinking that the requirement for a public consultation to be held by the proposed Beckets Keys Church of England school was unknown to all outside of the very interested.
However, a little research would have revealed that the need for a consultation was already known to a significant group of the Brentwood population who are keen to engage with it.
The board of governors of Shenfield St.Mary’s CEVA Primary School are clearly in favour of the establishment of an Anglican secondary school in Brentwood. Despite that they are still keen to be consulted on the admissions policy.
This reflects the position of some parents who were clearly disappointed when the proposed admissions criteria were changed during the process of gaining initial approval from the Department for Education (DfE).
Some were clearly angered that their support had been used to set up a school that they felt they were in danger of not being able to use. Comments posted on the Becket Keys Facebook page in September 2011 attest to this:
“the count covers all those who would commit their children to the school, and includes mine, not just those from the feeder schools. If this was used to make the school’s case, I feel misrepresented.”
“Many parents have expressed disappointment after months of writing letters, handing out leaflets and donating money for advertising to be told that actually only 28 places be [sic] available to those from other church schools.”
The governors of St Mary’s feel strongly enough about this to provide a separate page on their website that spells out their position and provides advice for parents who also wish to engage.
Setting aside the advice encouraging parents to apply anyway as there is no need to commit under this year’s admissions policy (as discussed in earlier posts), clarity and transparency in admissions policy is a key part of the consultation process. Educating Brentwood notes that Becket Keys representatives held a meeting at St Mary’s on the 21st February. This issue may well have been on the agenda but this would not fulfil the requirement for public consultation as it is not open to all and the impact goes beyond this set of parents. In the spirit of transparency, we would encourage any information relating to admissions policy raised in the meeting to be shared with the wider public on the Becket Keys website.
Other, less supportive, parties are also interested in admissions policy and have just as much right to engage in a public consultation. A notable example would be representatives of the British Humanist Association (BHA). Despite receiving absolutely no coverage in the local media, the admissions policy for Becket Keys has been the subject of correspondence between the DfE and the BHA. A summary of the BHA’s position is available on the following link:
Both of these examples demonstrate the need for the statutory consultation to take place publically and to be advertised widely enough so that all interested parties can engage in it. It also provides an opportunity for Becket Keys to demonstrate to the community that their final, agreed policy will be administered in an open and fair way and will adhere to DfE guidelines.
Once again, Educating Brentwood believes that this should be carried out before parents are required to commit their children to the proposed school for September 2012.
Brentwood deserves to be openly consulted.