Thursday, 17 September 2009

School Closures

It is deeply regrettable that Medway Council today decided to close St John’s and Ridge Meadow Schools in Chatham. The consultation was as a consequence of Government legislation which forces a review of schools who have falling rolls and both St John’s and Ridge Meadow fell into this category. Nevertheless both schools achieve good results and were contributing to educational excellence across Medway: it is therefore a shame that this decision has been made.

I am not the kind of person that likes to play party politics with a child’s education and so I have always made my representation on these proposals in private. I had made it very clear to the portfolio holder that I believe both St John’s and Ridge Meadow to be good schools with a strong community base, something that is often under-estimated and devalued in our current education system. I firmly believe that if we don’t get primary education right, then we end up playing catch up throughout the rest of a child’s education. This is not only unsatisfactory from a learning perspective but also costly.

I was also concerned that these proposals are being considered at a time when Government spending on capital projects is being examined in detail and as we know from leaked documents earlier this week that spending could potentially be frozen in light of the huge national debt that this Labour administration has built up. I remain extremely worried that the schools will be closed on a financial promise to invest in other schools which may then not happen. If this were to occur, our children will end up being educated in over-subscribed schools with an infrastructure unable to cope with the demand.

I am deeply passionate about ensuring that children across Chatham are given the best chance in life and fundamentally believe that the way to do this is to provide first class facilities, the best teachers, and an environment where they can thrive. Both St John’s and Ridge Meadow, in my view, have provided such a base and so I am not going to pretend I am anything other than disappointed with the decision today.


John M Ward said…

Yes, you are entirely correct; but it is only because of central government stipulations (of which you mentioned one) that this has become unavoidable.

It should never have been so!

It is the Labour government's one-dimensional funding régime — along with huge under-funding of Medway Council (who might otherwise have been able to "bridge the gap" until birth-rate effects and new housebuilding would have overcome the current falling rolls difficulties) — that has forced this situation, and nothing else.

I have (privately) investigated some of the background to this, and it has become clear to me that it has been a manufactured situation to make the Conservative administration appear bad in the public's eyes — just the latest in a string of those that I have personally experienced while I was on the council.

There is a fair amount that I really ought not to divulge publicly; so for now you'll just have to trust me on this: all those affected are merely pawns in Labour's party political machinations to "get at" their most hated opponents — especially in (for them) embarrassingly difficult areas like Medway.

Steve from Luton said…

By next Summer, the political landscape of Britain will have changed to such an extent that it will no longer be expedient for any community anywhere to be treated prejudicially because of their voting record.
By then, you should also be able to make your voice heard at the highest levels of Government, should you need to make representations.

Anonymous said…

These schools are small and achieve poor results. The simple fact should therefore be to merge with larger, BETTER schools will improve education in Medway. Your stance as the Conservative is wrong Tracey as simply a 'not in my back yard' attitude. I will be less likley to vote for you being my Conservative representative at the next GE

Angie Burdett said…

No wonder Anonymous left their comment anonymously. Quite clearly you don't know the facts of this case at all. St John's DOES NOT achieve poor results. Infact, are last three OFSTED's prove beyond all reasonable doubt that we are a "GOOD" school. St John's is being closed because Rose Collinson (a spineless, overpaid cow) has MISLED Medway Council.

As a parent of a child currently in Year 1 at St John's I was absolutely heartbroken at the Council's decision on Tuesday night. What makes the entire matter worse is that they are basing their decision on the utterly flawed facts and figures supplied by Rose Collinson. Rose Collinson insists there are plenty of school places for our 53 pupils. Really Rose? How funny that we, the parents, and Mrs Keating, the Head Teacher at St John's have personally telephoned all the neighbouring schools and have not found that to be the case. Or may be Rose Collinson is from the future, a future where teleportation systems are available to us … so we can beam ourselves from one infant school to another junior school in two different parts of Medway while towing toddlers and prams behind us!!! We have gone into the last two council meetings and supplied the Councillors with "REAL" facts and "REAL" figures and yet, once again they have been ignored. Two Councillors even admitted that they have never read the evidence we have presented to them and that the council are only basing their decision on the rubbish Ms Collinson is spouting!!! What do we have to do to make the Council hear us??? If we have to take over the school and chain ourselves to the railings … be SURE … we WILL.