onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for Education

Michael Hoy Starts Campaign Against School Bus Ruling

essex consult

Councillor Michael Hoy writes here about a new County Council policy:

“With effect from September 2015 Essex County Council have changed the policy on Home to School Transport for new pupils meaning parents or carers will have to pay themselves if their children go to Sweyne-Park School even though they may live over 3 miles away and would currently be entitled to free transport.  Sweyne-Park is the Catchment School for Hullbridge and currently has 248 Hullbridge children over the years 7-11…

…..I have opposed and remain opposed to this policy and will be campaigning against it.  I will post on here proposals for how the campaign will be formulated later….

…..The Echo will be taking a photograph at 3.30pm on Monday by the bus stop in Ferry Lane by the Car Park. As many people as possible are needed to be in it.

Amenity Space Saved, Wakering Development Squeaks Through……

At tonight’s meeting of the Development Committee:

The outline  application for 6 dwellings on the amenity space at Brocksford Avenue was refused by an overwhelming vote of councillors. Refusal was moved by  Ian  Ward and seconded by Heather Glynn. This pleased the public gallery, which was packed with concerned residents.

The application for 116 dwellings at the old Star Lane Brickworks in Great Wakering was passed – but only just. This is another one of the big sites that has come forward as part of the local plan. Chris Black and Ron Oatham moved refusal, saying that the application was contrary to our core strategy, because extra funding for the local primary school wasn’t being provided. We lost the refusal  11-9. Interestingly , none of the ward councillors supported our refusal. Cllr Mrs Wilkins voted against our refusal , Cllr Hookway was absent and Cllr Seagers declared an interest and quite properly left the chamber.  A motion of approval was then moved and the scheme was passed 14-5

The District Council applied to itself for planning permission to install a banner in Bradley Way to advertise public events – and the committee refused this , on the grounds of it being a conservation area.

The Education Situation

We’ve been enquiring into the situation with primary school places in Rayleigh – why Essex County Council were originally asking for a new primary school “North of London Road”, and now they’re not.
It seems that on the basis of a planning application for 475 homes , ECC don’t believe an extra school is needed. Admissions to primary school places in Rayleigh for September 2014 are high, but future school intakes are projected to reduce (this is based on GP registrations).

Primary School Places: How To Challenge A Decision

From the Guardian today:

The parents of thousands of children will learn on Wednesday that they have not been allocated their first choice of primary school. If you are one of them, it is possible to challenge the decision. Here is what you can do:

• Make sure you respond to any request to include your son or daughter on the waiting list in case any places become available.

• Decide if you have grounds for an appeal. Primary schools are limited to a maximum of 30 students per class for five- to seven-year-olds, and any application for such schools will be turned down if a school has already reached that limit.

Also consider that the independent appeal panel will not take into consideration any fresh information that you may submit if it was not available to the admission authority when it reached its original decision. Parents need to demonstrate why their child needs to go to the school to which they are appealing.

Full article with more information and links here.

Meanwhile the Essex County Council page on appeals is here.

It shows the following timetable:

Appeals timetable for children starting infant/junior/primary school from September 2014 onwards
16 April 2014 Essex Offer Day – parents informed of outcome of application
16 May 2014 Deadline by when appeals should have been lodged
2 June 2014 to 22 July 2014 Appeals heard for those lodged by deadline and where possible for late appeals
September 2014 onwards Appeals heard for any appeals not heard before 22 July

The above appeals timetable information applies in relation to community and voluntary controlled schools. Foundation, voluntary aided schools and academies may have different timescales for appeals – please check with the individual school.

Threat To Some School Crossing Patrols

lollipop

Have you heard about the Consultation on the County Council website about removing school crossing patrols where there is a pedestrian crossing, unless the school is willing to pay for it?!

You can find it here.


School Crossing Patrols Consultation

Essex County Council (ECC) is facing a £235m shortfall over the next three years as government funding continues to reduce and demand for services increases. All areas across the Council are therefore being reviewed to see where changes can be made and services could be delivered differently. ECC wants to give schools the opportunity to protect the School Crossing Patrols from the impact of budget reductions through the following proposal.
Essex County Council is looking for ways to work with schools to support parents’ responsibilities to ensure their children travel to and from school safely.

Proposal
We are proposing to rationalise School Crossing Patrol sites where there is a zebra or pelican crossing also in place in addition to a School Crossing Patrol Officer.
There are a number of schools in Essex which are served by a zebra or pelican crossing which operate safely without a School Crossing Patrol Officer.
Although we do not believe a School Crossing Patrol Officer is required at this location, we think that some schools may wish to retain this provision and are therefore offering schools the opportunity to fund the School Crossing Patrol. This would cost approximately £5,860 per year and we would put in place an annual Service Level Agreement. ECC would still employ them on schools’ behalf and retain employment liabilities.
If schools are interested in funding the service at their school they will be asked to sign up for a minimum of one year, starting from Summer 2014. ECC would continue to provide the current service of employing, training and managing the School Crossing Patrol officers and retain the employment liabilities. In addition ECC would also continue to employ the Mobile School Crossing Patrol officers to cover absences where possible.
It is proposed that if schools do not want to fund a School Crossing Patrol at these locations, the provision will be removed.
We are interested in hearing your views on the proposal and would welcome your feedback by 24 April 2014. No decision on the removal of School Crossing Patrols has yet been taken and decisions will only be taken after this consultation has concluded.
To take part please click here
——–
If you are unable to complete the online survey please telephone 033301 39836 where someone will complete the survey for you.
The information contained in this document can be translated and/or made available in alternative formats, on request.

Schools Holidays Petition … And Flood Prevention Funds

green reed

The “A Green Read” website , run by Councillor Michael Hoy, has had a lot of new stuff recently, including


Hullbridge Woman to have her petition debated in Parliament.

Donna Thresher started her Government e-petition back in March 2013 with the simple statement.
“Stop Holiday companies charging extra in school holidays”
The petition is a response to the belief that holiday companies are profiteering during school holidays charging excessive prices far above those that would be dictated by normal supply and demand….
…Lib Dem MP John Hemming has proposed the e-petition for debate in Westminster Hall for 24 February 2014 after the e-petition went viral due to Paul Cookson linking it to his Facebook Group Holiday Price Increase.

Essex County Council releases £1m of emergency funding for flooded roads
Essex County Council have at last listened to the concerns of residents and have at last decided to act on the flooded roads of the County. Below is the press release allocating £1 Million to tackle road flooding in the County….
….. Within Rochford District the one road needing flood alleviation methods that immediately springs to mind is Watery Lane in Rawreth. Some schemes have been put forward including installing a drainage system on the field to the South of the to prevent it draining onto the road as it currently does (and is allowed to do quite legally) and I will be pushing for watery Lane to be put into the top 5 as we all know it floods every year not just in this one.

A Shock For Deanes School

The Headmaster of Deanes School in Thundersley wrote on the school website yesterday:

Important letter from the headteacher

Dear Parents/Carers, Pupils, Staff and Friends of The Deanes School,

It is with absolute shock that we learned late yesterday evening of the County Council’s proposal to consult with the local community on the future of The Deanes School  and at the same time re-locate Glenwood School onto our site .

I must stress to you that this is against a back-drop of the promise of a brand new co-located building in our support of inclusion.  As you know our vision has always been to work together with our local primaries and our special schools to create a school where every child’s success matters. It appears that the County Council can no longer keep to their promise of the £20.7 million build.

I am surprised to hear late this afternoon that local schools had already been consulted on this without our knowledge.  We always try very hard to keep you up to date with all school developments.  I am as surprised as you are by this unexpected announcement.  At this moment I have not been given any details regarding the consultation process, which will begin on Monday 10th June.

I will contact you again after half term once I have more information.  As always we will continue to ensure that your children are given the support they deserve.

 

 

 

It makes you wonder if there any other shocks coming for other schools in Essex….

And what response will the local County Councillor be making?

ActionFraud – And Essex Fraudsters

Have you heard of the ActionFraud website? They describe themselves as follows:

Who is Action Fraud?

 Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre where you should report fraud if you have been scammed or defrauded.

We provide a central point of contact for information about fraud and financially motivated internet crime. People are scammed, ripped off or conned everyday and we want this to stop. We believe that we can beat fraud if we talk about it.

The service is run by the National Fraud Authority – the government agency that helps to co-ordinate the fight against fraud in the UK. We work with partners in law enforcement – the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, run by the City of London Police – to make sure your fraud reports reach the right place

Report fraud and internet crime

You can report fraud using our online fraud reporting service any time of the day or night; the service enables you to both report a fraud and find help and support. We also provide help and advice over the phone through the Action Fraud contact centre. You can talk to our fraud specialists by calling 0300 123 2040.

Reports taken are passed to the police who may contact you for further information. Action Fraud does not investigate the cases and cannot advise you on the progress of a case.

 

One recent item involves Essex schools and parents – if you haven’t seen this already, be warned!:

School truancy cold calls

Parents are being warned of a scam where fraudsters are cold calling victims and demanding you pay truancy fines [20 February 2013]

Essex County Council issued the warning after a parent of a pupil received a phone call purporting to be from the Education Welfare Service stating that their child had not attended school that day and as a result they had to pay a fine of £340.

The parent was asked to provide her credit/debit card details so that a payment could be made over the phone.

It is important to remember that The Education Welfare Service do not phone parents demanding payment immediately over the phone.  Invoices and penalty notices are sent via the post, and only then are you given the option to pay by phone.

Read more about the fraud on the Essex County Council website.

 

Feasts Of Nostalgia

One of the local websites in our sidebar is the Rochford District Community Archive. If you have a look, you’ll find a small goldmine of stories about local people and places..

One example is about Love Lane School in Rayleigh from 1955 to 1957/58. This article actually demonstrates just how fast Rayleigh grew in the 1950s – pupils as young as six were being bussed to Thundersley because of the rapid increase in population!

Another is about William Atkinson, one of the finest violin-makers in England, who moved from Tottenham in 1911 to avoid the air pollution that affected the varnish when it was drying. So he moved to Paglesham, took over the village shop and still made violins. He had a secret formula for his varnish:

“The old man realised too late that he was dying, and tried to impart the secret to his son, but the effort was too much for him. He fell back on his pillow, dead….he was an old sailor, and lived for many years at Tottenham, moving to Paglesham in order to secure the pure air and sunshine for drying the varnish on his violins. To fill in his time he took a small general store and became postmaster for the village”.

A Sixth Form At Sweyne Park School ?

Over 40 years ago Sweyne School in Rayleigh had its own sixth form – though things got so crowded pupils were having lessons in the dining room. Then SEEVIC opened, and all the sixth formers moved there.

Now the Echo reports that Sweyne Park School is hoping to have its own sixth form again:

A NEW sixth form could open at a Rayleigh school.
The governing body of the Sweyne Park School in Sir Walter Raleigh Drive has unanimously agreed to ask the Department for Education for permission to change from an 11 to 16-year-old school to an 11 to 18-year-old school. If it is approved, the school could add a sixth form by September 2014.
______
In a letter outlining the plans to parents, Lynda Walker, chair of governors, said there had been demand from parents to make the change.
She said: “This will primarily be for Sweyne Park pupils but will also admit 15 external pupils.
“We are very excited by the prospect of opening a sixth form and hope we will receive your support with this exciting new venture.” …..

The school reports this on its own website here.

When Rayleigh’s Population DOUBLED – And Rochford Children Were Taught In A “SLUM”

onlineFOCUS readers will know that we are concerned about overdevelopment in the years to come.

But it’s still worth remembering when the population around here really soared – in the 1950s. In the fifties the population of Rayleigh Urban District (which was Rayleigh and Rawreth) doubled

Chart of Rayleigh and Rawreth’s population 1931- 1961

“This work is based on data provided through www.VisionofBritain.org.uk and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth”.

And here’s a chart for the whole district:

 

Chart of Rochford District Population 1800 -2000

 

In 1959 our MP back then was Bernard Braine. (Later Sir Bernard Braine, and eventually Lord Braine). He spoke in parliament about Rayleigh’s booming population – and the only infrastructure problem he mentioned was a lack of telephone lines:

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him if he is aware that the population in this area is increasing at the highest rate of growth in the country? While I have no complaint against the telephone engineers, who make do with what resources they have, may I ask my right hon. Friend to see that a more generous allocation is made to enable the waiting list to be reduced?

There was a more serious problem in the town of Rochford – a grim lack of school facilities. And Bernard Braine certainly made a good speech – it’s worth quoting in full:

I am most grateful for having been given the opportunity to raise a matter tonight which touches on the interests of a very large number of my constituents. It is my purpose to draw attention to two matters: first, the serious lack of provision for secondary education in Rochford; and, secondly, the inadequacy of present proposals to remedy that situation in the future.
_
I do this with some regret because the Essex local education authority has a justifiable reputation. It can point with pride to the large number of new schools completed since the end of the war, schools which are well designed, well equipped and well staffed. Indeed, I would say that at Thundersley in my constituency there is one of the finest secondary modern schools in the country. But at Rochford, unfortunately, we have a secondary school operating under such conditions—I shall not mince my words—that more than 600 children are not receiving a secondary education at all, and unless something is done quickly they will not receive a proper secondary education for some time to come.
_
Part of the problem arises from the quite phenomenal expansion of population in the south-east corner of Essex. Hon. Members will recall that since 1945 there have been three constituency redistributions in this area. My own electorate increased by 25 per cent. during the lifetime of the last Parliament. In fact, since 1945, the population in the south-east corner of the county has doubled, and the school population has more than doubled. Yet the provision of new school places has consistently lagged behind the increase in population. Where there are changes in the pattern of the population that is not unusual, but my constituents feel that the provision lags much further behind in south-east Essex than elsewhere in the country and further behind than is necessary. They are justified, in my view, since they see that next door in the neighbouring new town of Basildon and in new municipal development elsewhere in the county the authority is making adequate provision in advance of the new population coming in.
_
My constituents consider that the authority has failed signally to appreciate the quite exceptional rate of private building development which is taking place in our area. In fact, I think I may claim that it is the highest rate of private building development in the country. This complaint is true not only of Rochford but of places like Rayleigh and Canvey Island. For the education authority has failed consistently to take account of the fact that a large number of young families with children approaching school age are moving into these districts.
_
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that against this background the Rochford secondary school should have been overcrowded for a long time. In fact it has been using overflow halls for the last six years. Moreover, the number of school children is increasing all the time. It increased in September; it will increase next September. An easement of this unhappy situation might have been obtained but for the fact that the main school is within 800 yards of the north-east—south-west runway of Southend Airport. This means that the school is within what the Ministry of Aviation calls the approach funnel to the airport or the public safety zone. It means also that every fifteen minutes of the school’s working day an aircraft takes off or comes in directly over the school building, making teaching difficult and sometimes intolerable for both staff and pupils. I know this myself, because I have attempted to speak in the school at such a time with aircraft overhead.
_
This situation will worsen, because the number of plane movements in and out of the airport in 1957 was 18,739, last year it was 22,500, and next year I understand it will be in the region of 25,000. Thus the nuisance will rapidly worsen. One would have thought that all this would have been foreseen, since the airport has not just suddenly started to expand. But by some strange myopia the local education authority failed to foresee what would happen and—I am sorry to say this to my hon. Friend—the previous Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education did not know that noise was a factor to be taken into account until I told him about it last August.
_
Provision had been made for the expansion of the school in 1958. Then came the first blow. I quote from a letter from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation which I received last July, in which he said: “The Essex County Education Committee consulted us in 1958 about a proposed extension of the Rochford County Secondary School. In our view the approach to a busy runway is a most inappropriate place for school development involving, as it does, a high concentration of children in a small area. We, therefore, felt bound to advise against extending the school within the Public Safety Zone.” Everything then came to a standstill. Since then the authority has merely tinkered with the problem. When it finally settled on a site for a new building, the proposal was for a two-form entry school only. That would have meant the ridiculous situation of having half the children and staff in a new building enjoying decent conditions while the other half remained in an area which everyone admits is both dangerous and noisy.
_
I say bluntly to my hon. Friend and the House that if airport expansion is necessary—and in these modern times it is—that price must be paid. At the moment the price is being paid by the children of my constituents. That is something we should not tolerate. The price clearly must be the provision of an entirely new school. On this, I assure my hon. Friend, the Divisional Education Executive, the Rochford Rural District Council, the school governors, many hundreds of parents in this area and I see absolutely eye to eye.
_
There is only one solution then, the provision of a new school. But the question does not end there. It is not only a matter of providing a new school, but providing it quickly for children who have already suffered from the delay in providing the additional accommodation which, but for the airport, they would have had by now. I have mentioned that throughout the period of frustration it has been necessary to use outside halls. That is a situation not unknown elsewhere, but elsewhere it is tolerable for a period of time provided that the headmaster can exercise effective control. That is not the position at Rochford. This question of control to ensure that a school has a distinct, corporate existence of its own where the headmaster and staff can exercise control over the school as a whole, is surely fundamental to education. My hon. Friend will know that the Ministry’s own pamphlet The New Secondary Education, No. 9, proudly asserts on page 17 that: “All secondary schools will have equal opportunities of fostering a healthy social life. Every pupil must be encouraged to form sound personal and social relationships. Through a school’s normal day-to-day activities, whether in or out of school time, there must run a strong sense that it is a body of people living together, helping and learning from one another.” Those equal opportunities do not obtain at Rochford. At the moment, one-third of the pupils are taught in outside halls. The first is the Oxford Social Club, and those taught in that hall get no instruction at all in the main school. They take little part in its extracurricular activities, and are isolated from the rest. They receive no practical instruction. Science lessons are restricted to those which need no equipment. There is no non-fiction or reference library.
_
As for the children accommodated at the British Legion Hall they have to vacate that place on Friday afternoons in order to allow the old-age pensioners to hold their weekly meeting. My hon. Friend will appreciate that it is precisely because these halls are used for other purposes that it is impossible to keep equipment in them or to display the children’s handiwork. In such an environment a feeling of belonging to a school and a sense of pride in achievement, which the Ministry, in its publications, says are essential to a proper secondary education, cannot be developed. Is it any wonder that teachers are despondent and feel frustrated and that the numbers of them leaving the school are high?
_
It is not merely that teaching and control are made difficult because so many of the pupils are accommodated in outside halls. It is also a fact that the halls themselves are utterly unsuitable. The Congregational Church Hall, for example, has been used as a classroom since last January. It is quite unsuitable for adults, let alone children. How any education authority can permit children to use it passes my comprehension. It is like a slum school out of Dickens.
_
May I describe it to the House? The outside of the building is dirty and dilapidated and rubbish is piled against one wall. Inside, the atmosphere is dingy and miserable. There are no wall windows and lighting and ventilation come from frosted skylights. In the hot weather, during the summer, the atmosphere was indescribable, although I must say that now winter is approaching two electric fans have been installed. The playground is a dirt yard adjoining an undertaker’s premises. Some fifty-five children, boys and girls, have the use of two water closets.
_
I am told that the Rochford Rural District Council has never approved planning permission being given for the use of this hall. The clerk told me only this morning that planning permission has never been granted under the Town and Country Planning Regulations, 1951. Although this hall has been in use since January, the authority was not consulted about planning permission until 26th August last.
_
The Essex County Council is not only a local education authority but is also a planning authority. Here it seems to me to be breaking the law. I want to know more about this. I do not expect the Minister to answer this question tonight, but I should like to know by what right this authority condemns our children to occupy a hall for which no local authority has yet given planning permission. Who authorised this? I beg my hon. Friend to send an inspector to this school tomorrow—not next week but tomorrow—to condemn the use of these miserable, squalid buildings as a school building.
_
I must tell the House frankly that the present proposals to meet this unhappy situation are quite inadequate. I understand that Ministerial approval has been given to the erection on the Oxford Club site of a new, two-form entry school. This would merely perpetuate the division of what ought to be one school. It merely nibbles at the problem. What is more—and the local education authority does not seem to be facing this eventuality—it creates a further problem because part of the proposals envisage taking over part of the Hawkwell Holt Primary School. This primary school is already overcrowded, for the same reasons as those which apply in the secondary school. Parents have told me that they are so concerned that their children, coming up to primary school age, will not get the education to enable them to qualify for grammar school entrance, that they are thinking of moving out of the district. In other words, this problem bedevils not only secondary education in Rochford but primary education also. Worse still, I understand that the land upon which the education authority proposes to erect the new but quite inadequate two-form entry school, has not yet been acquired. The negotiations for this land have been going on for a long time. Will my hon. Friend say something about what is holding them up.
_
The whole situation is so chaotic, is in such a muddle and is so obviously damaging to educational standards that I must ask the Minister to institute an immediate inquiry. In doing so, I must make it plain that nothing short of a drastic recasting of present plans will suffice. It seems to me—and this accords with the views of all those interested locally—that the minimum requirements are, first, the provision of a new four-form entry school capable of expansion to a six-form entry school later, and, secondly, the immediate erection of two demountable classrooms with adequate sanitary accommodation on a suitable site.
_
The attitude of the authority up to now has been that this is a serious problem but not capable of a quick solution. The National Association of Schoolmasters has been told, for example, by the authority: “it is unreasonable to think that a quick solution can be found” That is an attitude I reject utterly. I hope that the Minister, seeing how endangered educational standards are at Rochford, will reject it too, because if a solution is not found quickly quite clearly hundreds of children in my constituency are not going to have that educational opportunity which is their most precious right and which all of us in the House are passionately determined they should have. I am asking my hon. Friend tonight to treat this unhappy situation as one of exceptional urgency calling for quite exceptional measures.

==========================
For those who are interested, here are the population figures for Rayleigh and Rawreth:

1921 : 3,671

1931: 6,256

1941 : 8,067

1951: 9,388

1961: 19,044

2001: 31,199 (30,196 in Rayleigh 1,003 in Rawreth)

“The Best Half-Hour I Have Spent On You-Tube”

There are some BIG misunderstandings about student loans. You only actually pay this loan back if you are earning enough money…. graduates only pay money back when they earning over £21,000 per year. And then they pay back 9% of whatever they earn above £21,000 per year. And this £21,000 level will be adjusted for inflation in future years.

After 30 years, even if you haven’t paid back a penny, the debt is wiped.

This video explains things and is described as the “best half-hour I have spent on you-tube”:





Meanwhile thanks to Mark Lydford for pointing out this version of Nick Clegg’s apology!


Proceeds are going to charity:

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500 HOUSES BETWEEN LONDON ROAD AND RAWRETH LANE

There's lots of information on the District Council website about the planning application "North of London Road ". To see it , just click here.

The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

Planning Applications…

If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

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If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
There's also an independent website called FixMyStreet. It's very good for reporting minor street problems like holes in the road, grafitti or failed streetlights. You can find FixMyStreet here.

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To find the food hygiene rating for eating places and other businesses in our district , click here.

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“Rayleigh was the birthplace of Britain’s first surviving quintuplets, but that’s just one of its many claims to fame”

When the Olympic Torch came to Rayleigh, Chris Black wrote about the town in the Guardian - read it here

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