Friday, 10 October 2008


The news that Sandon High (pictured) is to become a trust school and is to offer an Adult Learning Provision is excellent news and at the same time it worries me. The Meir area of our city is crying out for a six form provision and an Adult Learning Centre. This is something that was talked about when we were told that Longton High is to close. Longton High is already home to one of the excellent City Learning Centre's. We as Longton Governors were told by The LA & SERCO that there were plans to build around the CLC to deliver further education and to encourage more young people to stay in education. It was also hoped that by providing this Centre Asian students from the area would be encouraged to enter 6th form.
It is a bold and innovative idea by Sandon to offer degree courses to adults who would normally choose not to go to University. Mrs Hall the head teacher should be congratulated for having the vision to turn her school into a Trust School which gives the governors more control of the school than the LA.
Mrs Hall has formed partnerships with the local colleges and universities and will offer places on the Sandon Governing Body to representatives of these establishments. This is very good news for the Meir area but a bit of a worry to us at Longton High. Does this mean that there is no longer plans to offer a 6th form and adult provision on the Longton site? Sandon will take over the running of Longton High from 2010 and for that reason some of the governors of the school have expressed a desire to go on the Sandon Governing Body, the feedback to this offer has been less than encouraging. Longton High pupils and staff need to feel that they are part of the plans at Sandon but as yet no one at Sandon has publicly acknowledged this merger. Is it not typical that again the parents in this area are the last to know about any changes to plans?
Sandon high is a great school and this idea underlines that fact but the parents and pupils still at Longton after 2010 need to feel that they are included are wanted by Mrs Hall and her staff. Let's see what the next few months will bring.
What do you think of the idea to let Adults learn alongside pupils within a school environment? Over to you........


Anonymous said...

What is the underlying difference between a LEA school and a trust school. Tony?

the joker said...

I'm OK about adults in the same school as kids just so long as one of them isn't called, Councillor Lee Wanger.

Helen said...

Encouraging people back into education or to continue education should be applauded.

Encouraging expertise into schools from other institutions is also to be encouraged.

Higher education to take place during normal school hours & also the possibility of a creche facility, mmmm, I wonder where & how these are to be accommodated, especially now that Sandon has more pupils than it was originally built for & supposedly full to the rafters already.

As Tony says, we at LHS were told that a 6th form provision was being looked at for the LHS site once the school has closed, to bring further education to the south of the city, encouraging more from this area to attend, will this now happen? Or are we being cynical to think this was just a ploy on behalf of SERCO, dangling a carrot in front of us, knowing that we care about education.

It would be a total waste to abandon a wonderful facility, the City Learning Centre on the grounds of LHS, which houses a TV & Music studio & is a great building in which further education classes can be held.

I prefer stand alone colleges rather than ones attached to schools. Why? Leaving the familiar surroundings of a school at which you have been a pupil & then attending college, enables students to flourish, grow & settle into being themselves. A new start, the beginning of adulthood & leaving childhood & school behind them.Meeting new people from across the city, forming life long friendships which may never be,if they stay cocooned within a school environment.

Is Sandon the right place? Maybe, maybe not but the forethought to bring further education to the south of the city is the right one & should be encouraged.

nita said...

I think this is an excellent idea.

Full credit to Sandon High School, for encouraging people back into education.

At the moment, anyone that wants to take these courses, would have to travel to lets say Stoke on Trent College. How much better would it be, for these courses to be available locally, and if there are creche facilities available, mum's will have more access to these facilities.

Our young men and women should be encouraged to do these University Courses.

Tony, I do not think there was ever any plans to put a sixth form provision on the Longton site. It is more probable that the site will be used for houses, or care/nursing home.

Can anyone give more information on what a Trust School is? What is the difference between that and an LEA school.

Alison said...

Barbara Hall should be congratulated on this initiative.

I just wish she would include Longton's staff and students in her plans as well.

If she cares about Education as much as she seems to, she will care as deeply as I do about the kids at Longton High school who are depending on the loyalty of the teachers there in order for them to continue their education and achieve their potential.

As an LHS governor, I look forward to working with Barbara, her governors and staff to secure a bright future for all the kids being educated across the 2 schools, so that they will all have an opportunity in adulthood to return to Sandon for higher education.

nicky said...

Anonymous: There are fairly major differences between the LA community school and a trust school. A trust school is a foundation school, for example of the type that Haywood is, but with the addition of external partners which provide links for mutual benefit. So all the things that apply for Haywood, becoming the employer of the staff, the admissions authority for the school and taking ownership of the land and assets apply to a trust school. The governors have more rights of appeal against LA decisions, in which case referral has to go to schools adjudicator. But in addition to these things a trust school has external partners. In this case for example the mutual benefit to the school and the uni partners may be to encourage progression to higher education and sharing of knowledge/experiences.

Alison: I'm hugely bothered about what you are describing as still going on at Longton. Surely serco ought to have pulled the finger out by now and got something sorted with staffing! You should not have to just rely on teacher loyalty, there is only so much that can be expected of them. It is also very worrying that you seem to be saying there is virtually no connection established between Longton and Sandon. The closure plan for Longton implied Sandon needs to take responsibility here. Those children seeing their education out at Longton matter just as much as any other child in the city, or ought to.

Alison said...

Call me a cynic, but I have just been onto the DfES website to establish the definition of a Trust school, as there must be a good reason why Sandon want to take on Trust school status. This is a quote from the DfES website:

"What are Trust schools?

A Trust school is a state funded foundation school supported by a charitable trust. It is made up of the school and partners working together for the benefit of the school. They are established under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 and are subject to regulations.

Through the Trust, Trust schools are able to:

manage their own assets;
employ their own staff, and
set their own admissions arrangements

However, despite some apparent similarities, Trusts schools are not:

academies, or
grant maintained schools.

Nor are they:

exempt from the requirements of the admissions code;
funded differently from community schools;
run by businesses;
separated from the local authority;
able to avoid local authority reorganisation plans.

Any maintained secondary, primary or special school can become a Trust school. Independent schools can also become Trust schools but to do so they must first give up their status as independent by entering into the maintained sector. They may still work with Trust schools by acting as a partner."

So, if Sandon does become a Trust school, does this mean they can choose not to admit students who might have gone to Longton High (if it was open)? How will this affect parental choice in the South of the City (which as we all know is already severely limited).

And does it also mean that, if they take on Trust status at the earliest opportunity, they can choose not to employ any of Longton's staff?

I hope the reasons for them persuing this Trust status are purely to do with offering opportunities for young people in the South of the City access to university education, and not to help Sandon avoid any responsibility for Longton, as detailed in the Longton closure notice.

These are just my own thoughts, I keep my fingers crossed.

Helen said...


Thank you for posting that information.

I too am worried as to why Sandon has not publicly acknowledged the management of LHS after 2010.

I know Sandon has no love for LHS but for the sake of the education of the students, I would have expected them to have reassured parents that students will be looked after as well as those attending Sandon.

I would also expect recognition for the staff at LHS too, as they are as professional as those at Sandon but no.

As a parent of a student who will be affected by the Sandon management, I am very worried that my childs education will be adversely affected by this management take over unless Miss Hall offers public reassurances & actually arranges to visit LHS to offer this face to face.

I can understand you feeling a little cyncial after reading this information as I now have those same cynical feelings.

Miss Hall can you reassure all of us who have students affected by this? I look forward to some public reassurance & acknowledgment from you in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Nicky for taking the time and trouble to explain what a trust school is.

Are you saying that I as a S-o-T taxpayer once owned a school but because of trust status, I now don't?

How is this to achieve a better education for my children?

Tony said...

Nicky and Ali got the info before i did! I'm a bit worried by the ownership issue too. I am also worried that by becoming a trust school does this allow Mrs Hall to abandon the Longton High staff given the power that her governing body will have?

nicky said...


You ask "Are you saying that I as a S-o-T taxpayer once owned a school but because of trust status, I now don't?"

Well the way I read it it looks like the answer to that is yes.
But note that is also the case with the academies that mayor Meredith is intent on foisting on us.

You ask "How is this to achieve a better education for my children?"

Well to me it looks like it might or it might not even do this. If you want your child to go to the school and they don't get in because of the school's admissions policy, then that is not going to do you any good. However the trust school does have to abide by the Code of Practice for Admissions and the Admission Appeals Code of Practice. These are statutory guidance. It also has to abide by the agreed LA coordination schemes. (Although we know - from the Trentham experience of how much notice mayor Meredith and serco chooses not to take of the ministerial guidance on school closures - that may not mean much.) Again, academies would be much worse. Now if your child is in the school then perhaps the links to the external partners will be good and help with education. Maybe, but it is not that certain how much difference it would make.

Tony, Alison, Helen:
I really hope you are wrong but I really fear you could be right about how Sandon uses it's control over staffing as a trust school. I also think it bodes badly that Sandon do not appear to be talking to Longton. Again, what the hell do serco think they are playing at?
The education of those Longton pupils is their responsibility to sort out, and will be Sandon's on paper but what about in practice. Why aren't serco sorting it?

nita said...

Having now been and looked at what a Trust School is, it appears, that such a school, employs its own staff. This is very worrying, as this would mean, that any protocols that came into place re: Longton Staff being given a chance of a position, Sandon could completely ignore.

I do not blame Ms Hall, for her decision to go along the lines of a Trust School, as, it appears a better option, having read all the information.

I just hope that whatever happens, the Longton pupil's don't suffer, as they don't really deserve this do they.

Anonymous said...

Its also wise to note that TRust schools have a 60/40 in their favour gb as the " norm" in effect the idea that any descison can be democratically vote don is gone as the power to hire nd fire is given solely to the trusted company / sponser that advocates the school.

for further info on this see goolge on the barnsley trust Academy run by Serco.