A selection of letters to the editor from the Bury Free Press of Friday, December 6
ORGANISATIONS CAN BID FOR CASH
I would like to reassure people that Forest Heath District Council’s commitment to supporting those who help people with debt and legal problems is as strong as ever. Indeed we are increasing funding and creating new opportunities for organisations to deliver innovative services that will have real and measurable impacts on people’s lives. To achieve this we are making two fundamental changes. We are correcting an historical imbalance between funding the Mildenhall and Brandon branches of West Suffolk CAB and the Newmarket branch. To reflect more accurately their workloads, funding changes next year will see an increase of £3,740 for Newmarket, with a decrease of £18,740 for Mildenhall and Brandon. We have discussed these changes with the CABs affected and offered help, for example by exploring alternative accommodation options for the Mildenhall branch to reduce overheads.
While the total guaranteed, or core, funding for the three CABs in Forest Heath will decrease over the next two years, funding for the services they – and other organisations – provide will increase overall because we are creating a new budget of £25,000 next year and £30,000 in 2015/16 in addition to the guaranteed CAB funding. This new budget will be used by the council to commission services that support people to lift themselves out of debt, or similar, crises. It will be open to all specialist organisations, including the CABs, to bid for the funds. Successful bids will be those that clearly demonstrate what positive benefits they intend to deliver, and how they will prove that the end results are positive for people seeking their help.
Every organisation which receives taxpayers’ money is having to look at where savings can be made through cutting overheads and delivering services differently. Forest Heath District Council has made huge savings over the past few years through doing exactly that and we are looking forward to working with our partners and local communities to help them achieve similar results.
-- Cllr Robin Millar, Forest Heath District Council Cabinet Member for Families and Communities
BANK MACHINES RAN OUT OF MONEY
RE The Christmas Fayre. As a trader in The Athenaeum, we had two problems.
Firstly, the electricity was cut off in parts of the building, so on health and safety grounds visitors were not allowed in for some time. Secondly, people were saying they could not get money from the banks in town because the card machines were empty. If so, we need the banks to refill them on the Sunday. The problem with electricity has happened before and it does not help us to sell our goods.
-- G Jones, Bury St Edmunds
COUNCIL SEEMED TO BE LISTENING
Some of your readers have moaned that the SOR consultation isn’t a real consultation and Suffolk County Council has already made up its minds. I’m not sure that is true as at the event I attended they were definitely listening with interest to what people said. I don’t remember any consultation from the schools in the Academy Trust about their decision to keep a three phase model. Dr Fletcher and Ms Neale have said that they won’t change their model regardless of what happens with SCC’s consultation. Surely, in the interests of fairness, they should be preparared to be open to change as they definitely seem to expect the council to be.
-- Stephen Smith, Bury St Edmunds
TECHNICAL ROUTE IS WELCOME
Bury St Edmunds is blessed with having upper schools delivering excellent academic results for our young people. However, for those wishing to gain more technical and work-based qualifications, the picture is more difficult. Now that all young people must remain in some form of education until they are 18, redressing this local imbalance has become critically important to their future. It was exciting therefore to readthat West Suffolk College and the Academy Trust, in collaboration with local businesses, are proposing to provide this alternative technical route (Bury Free Press, November 22). This forward-looking educational route is much needed and fundamental to ensuring that all our young people have the appropriate skills necessary to move into secure employment when they leave education at 19.
-- J F Wade, Ashfield Green
TIME TO STOP AND THINK AGAIN
Following the announcement of a University Technical College (UTC) in Bury St Edmunds, isn’t it time to stop and think again about school reorganisation?
There is no doubt in my mind that a partnership between West Suffolk College, the BSE Academy Trust and local businesses would provide a much-needed vocational route for students across the area. Those who desire an alternative to the narrow ‘grammar school’ model (which will inevitably come to be following Mr Gove’s recently announced schools accountability measures) would have a viable and exciting alternative.
Now, as the UTC will take students at age 13-14, when they have finished middle school education, doesn’t it make sense to retain the current middle school structure? Students would enjoy a system which has served Bury well for generations and, at the end, be able to make an informed choice on the most appropriate route forward. It would be ironic if two-tier were to be introduced with the argument of reducing school transitions only for students to transfer after two or three years to join the UTC.
At a time when Ofsted has published a damning report on Education in Suffolk, isn’t it time to move forward by building on a system that has served Bury very well and invest the SOR funds into actions which support teachers, enhance facilities and extend choice?
-- Chris Tooley, Bury St Edmunds
ALL-THORUGH BUT NOT AN ACADEMY
In response to Mr Frost’s letter (Bury Free Press, November 29), I would like to clarify Barrow Primary School’s situation.
As an Outstanding Primary School (Ofsted, 2011), we were in the privileged position of being able to apply to become an academy. Our governing body voted unanimously to reorganise by converting to an academy and joining the All-Through system of theAcademy Trust. We consulted our parents and staff who provided very positive support for this forward-looking decision. As a Church school, we are proud of our Christian ethos and work very closely with our local church. They also gave their support to our academy application. This was our school led response to reorganisation. So, it is disappointing that our diocese has not yet blessed our application with their support.
Being in the vanguard of change has its challenges. We decided on this course because all-through, as implemented by the Academy Trust, would deliver significant benefits for our children.
In contrast to this, moving to two-tier was unacceptable because Barrow children and their parents would suffer at least three years of painful disruption for no educational
During the last two years, Barrow Primary has been working as part of the Academy Trust, as closely as our current situation allows. Westley’s pupil tracking data from these two years, reported at the Apex meeting, have confirmed the vast majority of Barrow Primary pupils have indeed achieved ‘zero dip’ transitions.
Suffolk County Council has validated that governing bodies have the authority to take these decisions and also that all-through schooling is an integral part of their schools’ reorganisation policy, by placing Barrow Primary School outside the SOR Consultation, along side the Academy Trust.
Of course, reorganising to all-through does not necessarily mean converting to be an academy. It can be implemented in other ways. In which case, Church schools will not require any permission from the Diocese. So, forming their own all-through pyramids is open to the governing bodies of both Church and community schools alike across the Bury area.
-- Dr Viv Hughes, Chairman of governors, Barrow CEVC Primary School