Education - ‘Inclusive’ claim is misleading
There are many reasons why we should support the Church of England’s proposal to open a Free School at Ixworth for secondary age children. However, the claim by the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese that they will be offering schooling with ‘an inclusive approach, rooted within the community’ is seriously misleading.
An inclusive approach demands that a school is open to everyone in the community. Despite the hype emanating from its supporters, the proposed Ixworth St Mary’s High School cannot and will never be truly inclusive. Take just three key areas.
Firstly, the appointment of governors to oversee the running of the school. The Diocese, which is not elected by the community, will appoint the majority of school governors for religious reasons. Even if some parent and staff governors are elected, this will still exclude many members of the wider community who have no religious affiliations.
Secondly, the appointment of teaching staff. The Diocese will select staff according to their own ‘faith criteria’ so that members of their inclusive faith community will be preferred. Non-Anglican members of the teaching profession may well feel excluded and discriminated against.
Thirdly, the school’s pupil admissions policy. The Diocese has stated that Ixworth St Mary’s will be open to pupils of all faiths and none. But that said, the school will still reserve at least a third of all places for pupils whose parents attend a place of worship. Once the school is established, this could be extended to 50 per cent of the pupil intake. Thus, over time, pupil intake will become increasingly ‘exclusive’.
I hope that a successful new school does emerge at Ixworth but it needs to be acknowledged that the Diocese’s over-hyped claim for inclusivity is fundamentally flawed. The only truly inclusive school is a ‘secular community school’ controlled by elected representatives of all the people in Suffolk. Sadly, such a school is not on offer at Ixworth.
Local authorities can help the blind
Local authorities have the potential to transform the lives of people with sight loss by making small but significant changes. Often simple, cost-effective, innovative actions make a huge difference.
With local authorities currently having to look for ways to stretch their ever-dwindling resources, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) calls on councils to do one simple thing when setting their budgets for 2013/14 – properly consult and listen to its blind and partially sighted residents.
Last summer, RNIB produced a research report which looked at how local authorities could introduce ‘quick wins’ to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted people. One of the main practical, cost effective solutions was to involve and work in partnership with disabled people, including those living with sight loss.This is crucial when setting budget priorities for the years ahead.
The RNIB believes that despite the difficult decisions having to be made, local authorities can deliver a ‘bedrock’ of preventative and rehabilitative services and improve access to information through simple steps such as recording residents’ preferred communications format.
The time is now for local authorities to help build a better future for people with sight loss and avoid them being hit hardest by budget cuts.
For more information please visit www.rnib.org.uk/quickwins
RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for East of England
UKIP defector should resign
It was with a wry smile that I read the article (Bury Free Press, Stowmarket edition, January 10) concerning Cllr Whittle’s defection to UKIP. May I respectfully suggest he takes the honourable course and resigns from both town and district councils and then stands for re-election as a UKIP candidate.
K G Barker
Town blighted by litter
I have just come back to Bury St Edmunds after three years. Once it was Bury in Bloom, now it’s Bury in Rubbish, people just leaving papers all over the place and no-one being fined for doing it. Police and council please do your best and get Bury back to when it was so clean and tidy. Ann Byford
I would like to send congratulations to Gerry Studd for his truly excellent photo of a bittern in flight published in last week’s Bury Free Press.
A huge thank you to the honest person who found my nine-year-old daughter’s iPod (lost on Boxing Day) and handed
it in to Mildenhall Police Station. We would like to thank you properly but are unable to as you didn’t leave your details so please get in touch either via newspaper or Police Station.
Free for over-75s
I am writing to remind readers that anyone aged 75 or over is eligible for a free TV icence for their main address. Eligible people can register online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/over75 or by calling 0300 790 6073 – the free licence is not granted automatically