The future of the Sawyers Hall College site – the issues two weeks on

Our site is two weeks old today and the issues raised in our early posts have moved on considerably. We have also had some great feedback about the blog and our group which we are acting on and will reflect this on the site in the very near future. This post is a brief summary of where things currently stand on the main issues that we have raised thus far.

The educational subject currently most in the news is the formation of Becket Keys Church of England School and the use of the Sawyers Hall College (SHC) site post-September 2012.

Two weeks ago we reported on the statutory requirement for Becket Keys to hold a consultation into the funding agreement that they intend to sign with the Department for Education (DfE). We also stated that, contrary to the publically reported position, Becket Keys would not be using the full site. We were particularly concerned that the consultation would not have been held or the site future decided until after parents were required to commit to a school for their child for September 2012 entry.

Following our coverage, and reports in the local press, the publically stated position is clearer but issues still remain.

Public consultation

  • Becket Keys have confirmed on their website and in the press that a public consultation is a requirement and that they aim to hold this for a period of six weeks, starting in “early March”.  
  • We still don’t know what form this will take or how it will be publicised to maximise the participation of local residents who have an interest.
  • Becket Keys have been reported in the Brentwood Gazette as saying that they are not reliant on the funding agreement being agreed to open in September. If this is the case, where are the funds coming from to enable a September opening and why should further state funds be provided?
  • State funds will be controlled by an “Academy Trust”, the formation of this trust is a key piece of information to ensure public accountability.

(See: Gazette paints inaccurate picture on Becket Keys and Academies and “Free Schools”: Locally accountable governance?  )

Use of the site 

  • Becket Keys and Essex CC have confirmed that the site will only be partly used by the proposed “free school”. Becket Keys have provided clarity on what parts they say they will use on their website.
  • Essex CC has confirmed that they are liaising with Partnerships for Schools, representing the government, to decide who will use the remainder.
  • The University Technical College (UTC) proposal has been re-submitted and the outcome of this will be known in May.
  • We still don’t know if there are other options being considered and what effect they will have on local residents.

 Parental “decision day”

  • Contrary to what was reported by the Brentwood Gazette last week, the date when parents will have to commit to a school for their children for 2012 has not been decided.
  • Essex CC provided a full statement to Educating Brentwood which explained that they will  send letters to those affected giving  a period of 14 calendar days from receipt of the letter to decide.
  • The date when the letter will be sent is dependent on information from Becket Keys and Essex CC.
  •  To enable parents to make a fully informed decision and to avoid undermining the consultation, the decision date should not be set until the consultation has concluded, the DfE has responded and the future of the site is clear.

(See  2012 Admissions – Essex CC confirms the definitive position



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