Congratulations To Barbara Wilkins BEM !

District Councillor Barbara Wilkins has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the latest New Year’s Honours List – not for her council work, but for services to education :

Mrs Wilkins is regarded with affection in the council, not least for extolling the virtues of Great Wakering whenever possible! But she has also been an enthusiastic advocate for pre-school education for a long time.

"Medaille B.E.M. met Brittania" by Robert Prummel - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - “Medaille B.E.M. met Brittania” by Robert Prummel – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –

The Pupil Premium

Sereena Davey writes:

If ever there were a lesson on the virtues of patience it would be the journey of the Pupil Premium…!

When I worked in Parliament from 1999-2001 as an education specialist, I worked on a pamphlet with the (then) Education Spokesman Phil Willis MP, and a (then) MEP – a certain Nick Clegg! Nick and Phil both believed that education was the key to social mobility but that too many pupils and schools were failed – even penalised – by the ‘one size fits all’ approach to pupil funding. We visited the Netherlands and Sweden and considered the way their systems provided extra money to schools who educated children from underprivileged backgrounds. We recognised that educating a child who has a challenging home life, doesn’t speak English as a first language, or has learning problems needs more resources to educate. Rather than leave schools to absorb this extra burden, we concluded that every school with this kind of pupil should receive direct additional funding to help compensate and to level the playing field with schools who had very few of these pupils. Phil and Nick published their ideas in a pamphlet for the think-tank Centre Forum and the ‘Pupil Premium’ was born…

While this idea quickly became Liberal Democrat policy, it would take nearly another decade until this policy became official government policy. When the Liberal Democrats joined the coalition Government the Pupil Premium was a key part of the new Government’s proposals.

Since then it has put an extra £2.5 billion in to schools to target the most disadvantaged pupils and help close the attainment gap. It has already provided schools in Castle Point, for example , with an extra £7.2 million.

The Pupil Premium is a Liberal Democrat policy, without the Liberal Democrats in the next coalition there is no guarantee that any future Government will continue this vital funding to ensure that every pupil, and every school has the best possible opportunity to create a great education to set every child up for life.

Want To Learn About Computers?


Someone suggested we should mention a course you can take at Rayleigh Library called “Learn My Way”. It’s run over 6 weeks, on a Monday and a Wednesday at Rayleigh Library ( We think it also runs at other libraries but don’t have any details )

Starts at 9.30am, runs until 11.00am and is ideal for complete beginners, no previous experience necessary.

Find out more at

The course can be done at home but of course, you will not have a tutor to guide you through. The course if free, you just need to be a member of the Library.

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


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.

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.