Educating Brentwood through the summer and beyond

With the summer holiday well underway and the very pleasant distraction of the 2012 Olympics taking place on our doorstep, you will not be surprised by the diminished frequency of posts on our site during this period. We can assure you though that our group continues to monitor news relevant to the educational landscape in Brentwood and, following one of our regular meetings last week, is developing some themes that we will be covering over the coming months and would value any contribution to them.

During August we will keep close tabs on local news and in particular the continuing uncertainty at the Sawyers Hall College (SHC) site. As I write we are still none the wiser about the use of the parts of the site that has not been allocated by Essex CC for the proposed Becket Keys Church of England School. While rumours abound concerning the future plans of Havering College and Prospects College no definitive clarity is currently available. Prospects are still listing Construction and Carpentry courses for the site, The Lanes Hair and Beauty will certainly continue in the part of the SHC site refurbished by Havering College but it is unclear if their involvement will be restricted to that provision.

As reported in our last post, and two weeks closer to opening in the first week of September, Becket Keys have yet to sign a funding agreement with the Secretary of State for Education. While it is unlikely that it won’t be, there is no public information on what the implications are should they not have by then. A quick resolution of this situation would help those parents intending to send their children to make up the 2012 intake and ought to be a priority now.

Numbers of pupils going to each of Brentwood’s secondary schools in September has also been the subject of much discussion amongst interested parties and we have been made aware of parents changing their initial choices in the last couple of weeks. We know that the initial Becket Keys intake will include children from outside of the town ( Becket Keys: Serving the local community? http://wp.me/p2dr6s-8r ) and they will not be unique in this. As parents do not have to make a firm commitment until schools reopen, the true picture will not be clear until then. Unfortunately resource planning for schools is very difficult in this situation and we won’t know the impact of this on existing schools at this point.

While we monitor the above and seek to provide clarity where we can, we will be developing further themes for the return to school.

Despite it being very early in the new school year, prospective parents will be asked to make choices for September 2013 in late October. All schools, primary and secondary, offer parents and children the opportunity to visit in order to inform their choices. These can be open days, morning or afternoon tours or parent briefings. We will publish available details of these events, cover issues that may be important to consider and provide questions that you may wish to consider when attending.

We will also bring you details of the Brentwood Learning Partnership, a collaborative arrangement between Brentwood’s schools which has charitable status. What does it provide and what is its future in the new landscape?

We are fortunate to have present and past school governors within our group and contacts with many others. The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, recently claimed that they can be “local worthies” who view their post as a “badge of status not of work”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-18741348#?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter  He may be right. What do they do? How do you become one? When should you contact one and how do you do so? Who are they accountable to?

We will cover this in a series of posts and would value any contribution that you would like to make to these subjects. Get in touch at educatingbrentwood@hotmail.co.uk to join in.

Stephen Mayo

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