Sunday, 12 October 2008


I feel it is time that PitsnPots had the debate on the controversial BSF Proposals.

Serco were brought in, to improve the Education Department, as we were sitting 147th out of 150 in the National Tables. No one, can argue that this is not good reading, and that standards had to improve.

When the proposals first came to the table, we were informed that pupil numbers were falling, and to address this, we had to lose schools. All schools across the City would face closure. This idea was met with strong opposition, so it was decided to scrap it and start again.

As it stands now, Berryhill/Longton/Mitchell/Trentham will all be closed. Longton has already been issued its Closure Notice for 2010, and is due to be taken over by Sandon High.

The most controversial decision in all of these plans, has been the decision on Trentham High School. There can be no one across the City, that has not heard of the Trentham Action Group, nor of the Trentham 10 and their walk to Westminster.

As it stands now, Trentham is set to close and pupils will attend an Academy together with pupils from Blurton High School. As yet, a site has not been decided upon.

Then we have the Academy to be built on the Park Hall Gasometer site. The school chosen to be the Academy is Edensor Technology College. I believe Mitchell's current catchment area will be spilt between the Academy and Birches Head High.

We have another Academy being built in the north of the city, and that is James Brindley.

St Peter's High is set to move to the Sixth Form site, and I believe take on pupils from Berryhill High School. What do you think about this move?

Firstly, we at PitsnPots want to know, if you think the Academies are the way forward. I suppose, if they are replacing unpopular and underperforming schools, then yes, it is the right choice. If they are not, then no, it is wrong. Do you think we need a one size school fits all? Should we have smaller and larger, to suit each particular area?

What do the people in the north of the city think, are they happy with the proposals for their schools? Is James Brindley happy to be having an Academy?

Where would be a good site for the Academy for Blurton/Trentham, would Trentham Lakes be a good alternative? What do you think about New Inn Lane?

What do Berryhill and Mitchel think now that they have to be split between Park Hall Academy, Birches Head and St Peters?

I agree that the fall in pupil numbers has to be addressed, the question is, what if these figures are out, as the Trentham Action Group is suggesting, what happens then?

Lets hear what you have to say...........................................................


Debbie said...

Only in this alice in wonderland authority which happens to be ranked 147th out of 150 in the country would we consider closing the best performing real secondary school. Every time I read the comments of Meredith, Ibbs and Bagguley et al, I realise why Stoke performs so poorly. You would not let these intellectual minnows organise your sock drawer. I bet the land Trentham sits on is worth a lot more than the land Mitchell, Blurton, Berryhill and Longton sit on and there are lots more tame labour voters in those areas. Witness where money is spent in S-O-T and you will see what I mean. Lets have some more nice signs, and landscaped parking areas in Betilee. The residents of Trentham are mainly owner occupier so they will never get a fair deal from the Old Labour councillors who have run the peoples Republic of Stoke on Trent for so long. We all understand the economic significance of the decline in Steel, Coal and Pottery but much of the effect of this decline in Stoke on Trent has been exacerbated by the useless Labour led councils that the electorate has chosen.

Anonymous said...

My Dear freinds

A well written Article with good points, One has to say after a meeting at the civic offices that the gasometer site is not yet final, Seems that the ground may not be suitable for such a large building to be placed upon it due to the discovery of mine shafts yet we are all awaiting the reports on the ground survey with baited breath.

Academies hmm well if we look at how they started why they are inplied to be the better way perhaps we`ll see the reasons why they are pushed so hard to get into the minds of those who would be sending their children to them. The socialist/communist democracy that has ensnared the soviet rupublic of Russia used the ideas of Academies to " clarify and specifically train their atheletes and acedemic children, those who would not be working in mines and other subtle jobs."

The spotlight was on future lessons for all children,have you ever heard that motto before? but in the truth of the matter lay a hidden meaning to establish who is worth educating and who is not.

Then comes Grammer schools a system where by a specific reteric was placed on specific well to do children who are with a silver spoon taught far more than the standard of education we see in public schools. Follow the time lines here and you will see their ideas of public schools, government run schools if you will are one tenth of the populous that where required for higher education.

So where does this leave us ? we have an education system that is three teired too difficult to manage and with its own pitfalls both financal and educational.

To bring this into real terms something must be done. Lets build academies and work the system to our advantage and place the children worthy of such higher skills in a place where they can be educated to a specific regime either to work in the health motor or some other industry but how to do this? I know lets allow a company to run a school give them a school, rename it, reclassifiy it and lets find a company that requires a work force to educate the children of the area in a specific way oh of course they`ll still learn the basics of the three r,s but they will be trained in a way which will ensure a productive workforce when its done.

Now lets look at the current industry in Stoke on trent. One pottery, one health service one builder of mechanicle diggers and virtually nothing else, save for a few shopping malls well that took a long time to do didnt it.??, so lets introduce a comapny that has its fingers in many industries at once say for example serco a company that is in technicle, education, electrical, healthcare and provision, transport and weapons manufacture, security and privitised police force and lawyers not to mention it also owns a few newspapers so many fingers in so many pies, lets face it they can use an academy to better all of those traits and in effect teach and train its new recruits in all ways, be it sport academic or technicle and political best of all worlds as its got so many fingers in so many pies the public will not think that the first large company to accomplish academy ststus is doing any thing underhand yes?

Trentham is being closed because it showed it was not as they said it was failing. Also the land sale issue for trentham is four times the price of the inner city.

Blurton may get almagamated with trentham to stave fears of the trentham loosing itself all together and being placed with such a good school it should cool the troublemakers down.

Blurton is in the top five schools of the area but it has a problem with space as in not enough room for all that wish to be there.

Longton high school is being closed because it faught the serco regime and the system that is current in the council and has " race issues outstanding" Though i doubt you`ll get any one to admit the fact that two bmp councilors on the governing board is a factor i`ll put money on that being one of them even if its only in a whipser.

Edensor is being moved lock stock and barrel hmm still looking into this one. Though i respect whast been said so far by the two people on this site i still think that there is more to this than meets the eye readily.

Please note these are personal veiws but ones that have been carefully looked into in each respect in some cases two years work in enquiry have means that i took my time to say my evidence.

Statistically the schools mentioned are not failing in fact they are all improving across the board. Sandon has just been updated long overdue one main reason a was the porta cabins on the front lawn scene was not "conducive with the image of the school " something that now longton will close it will be interesting to see if they put the cabins back or where they are going to put the outstanding numbers of children.SAndon is listed as 750 with room for 100 more per intake add Longtons 300 plus and this will be come interesting.

Do academies work ? yes they do The USSR proved this but only if the full regime of the acedemic acadamy be it sports technicle or sceince or mathematicle in nature is adhered to without constriant.

Something else to note is that of the top one hundred and fifty that are failed schools list the gov run up, in the top forty are Serco run the top ten of these are academies.

And now dear reader lets not forget politics, Meredith is in this for Meredith,Make no Mistake akin to others in the past who see stoke as an easy target, its failed industry, its failed this and that.

The point that these industries failed is due to people like Meredith who are in the game purelely for themselves and be damned to the rest of us.

Debbie came into a interesting point that i was going to impart with a select few. land sales.

Edensor for example is to be moved from its site.
Currently valued at £18.5 million to a £4.9 million site (sold off cheap by the council) the land that is left becomes sercos and if you google that you`ll find they already have a price of £20 million on it. Once its cleared of the current school buildings. The site will be worth three times that but it will not be the council that make such a profit from that school, oh no no no, it will be Serco. A company who aleady have a back ground sales team that "supervises " the sale of redundant land

If you look close enough to the other schools Serco has already "acadamised" you`ll note all land that it aquires through this back door method tripples in price as soon as the buildings are cleared and is already open for tender before the sale is complete barnsley is a good example of this.Bangor is another.

No wonder certain people dont want a public enquirey into money spending in the SOT area perhaps it would bring to light other little droplets of truth that the people may not like nor would be told if the councils had their way. One such droplet which bank the SOT council actually use for "investment" and why.

My parting words would be this if academies where such a good idea why are the so called sponsers pulling out in droves since Andrew Addonis was " shuffled"?

till next we speak Partisan

brooneyes said...

Debbie, when it was first suggested that these academies were
brought into existence, we said it was a property deal. Knock down Blurton High, knock down Trentham High, build a conglomarate between the two, and sell off the original land for development.
I agree with every last thing you've said. Gee up your friends and neighbours, and get them out to vote.
A little bird tells me that the economic impact of this lost £5 million hasn't happened yet, but looks to soon. Umbrellas at the ready when the you know what hits the fan.......

Debbie said...


I have been googling it for the last 30 minutes and I can find nothing about Sercos land deals elsewhere or the Edensor site being for sale. Can you give me a bit of a lead on the web addresses.

nita said...

Debbie you make a very good point. All the closing schools, sit on large plots of land, and once that land is sold, would make a large amount of money for the Council. However, it would appear, as Partistan states, this profit goes to Serco. Very bad business I would say. I also agree, that to close the best performing secondary school is puzzling, to say the least.

Partisan, we have been saying for a long time now, that the Edensor Academy, would not end up on the Gasometer site. I have an elderly grandparent, and he has told me many a tale on the various pits on Adderley Green. He did happen to mention a pit behind the gasometer site, so that would explain the mine shafts.

To be honest, it would be best for the pupils if the Academy did not go on this site, for safety reasons. If it is that the Academy cannot go here, I just wonder where the next option would be. It would have to be on the Willfield site. In fairness, this has to be a better option, though this would mean, it would make it further away for pupils travelling from Edensor's current catchment area.

I suppose we will just have to wait and see.

Helen said...

BSF has been a joke from the start in Stoke on Trent, first of all we had Mr Rigby & Mr Cartlidge who saw this as the chance they had been looking for to close LHS & made sure they did their damndest to ensure that this happened.

After two failed attempts at putting forward proposals, SERCO were foisted upon us. Not as Mr Meredith would like us to believe that he invited them.

At first I thought that SERCO were a breath of fresh air, coming into the city & taking an holistic view of what was required. I was soon to be sadly disappointed, they didn't have the guts to follow through on their original proposals but caved in to pressure from the north of the city & then proceeded to descimate the south, closing 4 schools & doing deals behind closed doors.

Again 'Consultation' was replaced by being 'Dictated to', even after a meeting with Mr Meredith in his chambers saying'I promise you that never again will this city see 'consultation' carried out like that again', this after the fiasco of Rigby & Cartlidge.

So same old, same old.

LHS does have falling numbers & is it any wonder after bungled mergers during the last few years,parents want/need stability for their children's education.

The one thing that no-one, Rigby, Cartlidge, Meredith, SERCO or any other councillor will ever admit that these bungled mergers have been the main reason for the decline of numbers at LHS.

SERCO, would have had an easier time, if they had truly consulted with the communities surrounding schools, parents, students & staff about what we want - yes WHAT WE THE CITIZENS OF STOKE ON TRENT WANT!!! not someone telling us what we should have.

Building Schools for the Future - fine if your school is being replaced, disaster if the commuities are not happy. Even more of a disaster if staff from one school are moved carte blanche to a new building with no thought to raising standards. This would be fine if that school was top of the league tables in a city not languishing 147 out of 150.

Alison said...

Yes I agree totally with Helen. BSF has been a joke. If it wasn't such a tragedy, the whole thing would be hilarious!

As Helen pointed out, we had Mr Rigby and Mr Cartlidge, who's idea of vision and foresight was to close the 2 schools with the lowest number of pupils (which at the time were Mitchell and Longton). Then they got very upset when the Government rejected this business case.

They then thought up a second business case, which was no more sensible, where they "consulted" (and I use the term VERY loosely). Then they were shocked when they were told to clear their desks!

After this "consultation", some of us met with Mayor Meredith, who assured us consultation like that (ie you are told what will happen, like it or lump it), would never take place in Stoke on Trent again. And of course, his lips were moving, so we knew he was telling lies.

Next we get Serco foisted on us, and as Helen describes, we gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought they might be a breath of fresh air.

Well, they came up with even more hairbrained schemes, like closing all the schools and re-opening a few. They knew that would cause a bit of chaos.

Then they decided they'd just close a few, and these included Longton, Mitchell, Berryhill and Trentham. At no time have they acknowledged that the Local Authority, and their numerous different merger/closure plans for Longton, have had anything to do with the dwindling number of parents choosing the school. But this is a fact.

Longton High was in special measures, but like Trentham have done, we had started putting it behind us and improving, but the LA pulled the rug from under us.

As part of this latest scheme, Serco propose to close Trentham, one of the best performing schools in the city, and also did a deal with Edensor (allegedly) to become the predecessor school for the Parkhall Academy (Parkhall, there's a joke, we have always believed it would never be sited on Parkhall/Gasometer!) So Longton's staff and students were well and truly stitched up.

I apologise in advance to the ex education official who seems to be dedicating his retirement time to attacking myself and Tony, but what I speak is the truth, as it happened. He has been in denial about his part in the demise of LHS for over 4 years.

Now we are in a situation where Longton's staff and students are dependent on Sandon. Latest reports indicate that Sandon are taking steps to change the status of their school, so they have greater autonomy and don't necessarily have to do what the LA and Serco want them to regarding Longton.

My concern in all of this is the tragedy being played out at Longton High. Kids are unsettled, teachers are unsettled, many are leaving (as they are at many schools across the city). The Headteacher and her staff continue to work extremely hard to keep it together, but it becomes a daily battle.

As a governor of Longton, I have expressed on many occasions my concerns. As a parent and a citizen of Stoke on Trent, the BSF proposals are a disaster and, whilst I welcome the injection of cash to improve attainment across the city, I do not believe that the current BSF proposals are not the best way forward and don't include any input from the most important of people - the communities.

When are they going to listen?

brooneyes said...

I must admit to being surprised and disappointed with the BNP voting in favour of keeping them, but a word with a couple of our councillors who explained why they voted that way, still doesn't seem right to me.
I was told that Serco were not to blame, that they were just doing what they had been told to do. I was told that are very good at what they do.
The way I see it, if we're paying £5 million for the priviledge of having them here, I want a lot more than nodding bloody donkeys! For £5 million I would expect creative solutions to the educational problems we have, and not just a programme of closures, and iffy looking property deals.
Next time we all sit down round a table I will fill in all the gaps. It could be that I'm missing some vital info that's colouring my judgement.

Helen said...


Once again, we agree, we don't need nodding donkeys for £5 million pounds, as you say we want innovative, forward thinking people, creating an education system within the city to be proud of.

We may as well have kept Rigby & Cartlidge at this rate & saved ourselves on helluva lot of money. Or maybe not!!!

brooneyes said...

Helen, we do seem to agree on a lot, and that's no complaint!
Personally, I don't believe there is any need for that kind of financial outlay, surely to God we have a big enough pool of resources to draw from in order to find a better educational system!
So many people would enjoy the chance to imput, if only they had the chance to do so.

nicky said...

Trentham is not set to close in the view of the Save Trentham High action group.
We have visions for our school which are way better that Mayor Meredith’s pathetic plan to bring in academies. We want a federation with St. Joseph’s as a key starting point for working closely with other schools. Schools sited in their own communities but working together, that’s what we want. And remember the council’s own CYP scrutiny committee recommends this too and recommends to take Trentham off the closure list. The EMB have a duty to report back on that recommendation as they promised to do, and we are still waiting. It’s madness to want to close the highest performing non-selective school in the city! Nothing will stop us in our quest.

At the TAG meeting last night, there was Rob Flello… not! Of course he didn’t turn up to tell us that Jim Knight doesn’t give a flying oatcake about us and ‘will not intervene in local issues’ – same old same old. Flello only bothers to show when he can pretend he’s doing something. Well he may have given up, but we haven’t. If he clings on to his seat after the next general election I doubt that will be due to votes from the Trentham part of his constituency.

The gloves are off and if it has to be a nasty fight it will be. Fibbs does when he keeps harping on about us wanting to just maintain the status quo. Not true at all. In fact our vision for advancement for our school has, coincidentally, resulted in us securing the THS land. HA! That’s one up to us Ged Rowney, you’ll have a fight on your hands to get that back now. That’ll put paid to selling that off for development any time soon. And if you try to block us and send it to the school’s adjudicator, what argument do you have for what you are doing? It’s irrational. Whereas we have the strong case.

Nita, pupils from Trentham won’t attend an academy without trying everything else first including a mass exodus from Trentham. I’ve always been anti-academy since they were introduced. My interest in education has been there long before the threat to my children’s school, long before I even had children in fact, so I think about such things. As it is, whatever happens, my youngest is too old to end up under any academy governance, according to Adrian Williams’ transition schedule (bye bye Adrian, you won’t be missed). So I don’t really regard it as up to me what type of school may be chosen for the future. But it should be up to those with younger children, and certainly not up to Mark Meredith. And what I’m hearing in the TAG is people don’t want a large impersonal school, possibly miles away. And actually the more they find out about academies (Peter Kent-Baguley you’re my main man) the less they like them, with the dictatorial sponsor control, only one parent governor, only one staff governor, poor staff rights, control over the curriculum, control over everything in fact. No pupil choice, no parental choice, not wanted. And on top of that achievement is poor, much worse than Trentham. So why would you choose that? You say if they are replacing unpopular and underperforming schools then it is the right choice. Well, even then, it’s the government who says that, but it doesn’t mean they are right. OK if some families in other parts of the city have reasons best known to themselves to prefer such schools then fine, but it should be for communities to choose and I’m not hearing that choice in Trentham.

And in answer to where the Trentham/Blurton school should be, well the Trentham school should be where it is now, in Trentham and Blurton should be given the new school they were promised years ago, in Blurton. And what I’ve heard about the New Inn Lane site in any case is that not even Ged Rowney agrees with Roger Ibbs on that, a glimmer of sense from the man (Ged not Roger).

The fall in pupil numbers is short term. SERCO’s figures ARE out. Read the proof:

Read especially pages 40-41 for the whole city. The fall bottoms out around 2014 then starts to rise again. BSF must be planned for a FUTURE to address the rise. And these aren’t just estimates, the birth rate is rising. We only need to count how many living breathing under fives we have now and we can easily work out that by the time these are high school age, if SERCO have their way, there will be thousands too few school places for them. SERCO always harp on that government have checked their METHODOLOGY, but this is typical SERCO speak, the actual NUMBERS used have not been checked.

Helen and Alison, you make some excellent comments on the BSF shambles, well said.

Craig, one of the gaps you probably have to fill in has to do with SERCO being in charge of children’s services which includes more than schools, but also deals with what I think they call ‘looked after children’ (as if some children wouldn’t be…) etc. Now I know nothing about that side of their work but maybe that bit is going better so people don’t want to get rid of them. Anyway I think their time is up at some point next year? I’m not sure when but they’re not meant to be here forever. I expect it will be somewhat of a mutual relief when they go.

nicky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nicky said...

Now I'm struggling with this hyperlink thingy (useless at ICT me) so try again writing it on several lines: