Another nail in the Bucks education system

Wycombe Labour today called on OFSTED to inspect how Bucks County Council (BCC) discharges its responsibilities for education as yet another part of the system, the Schools Forum, is in danger of collapse.  
 

The Schools Forum is an advisory body of headteachers and governors of schools in Bucks, along with representatives of professional associations.  It makes recommendations to BCC , representing the interests of all the children in Bucks; the Forum’s job is to rise above sectional interests and see the needs of Bucks as a whole.  
 
Recently, it has publicly consulted on extra funding for 2015/6 provided by the Department of Education for the secondary schools in Bucks.   The Forum has recommended, amongst other things, that the upper schools should have an increase of funding of 11.6% and the grammar schools of 6.5%
 
Wycombe grammar schools are now attempting to bypass the Forum by encouraging their parents to lobby BCC Councillors direct.   The Headteacher of the Royal Grammar School wrote on 14 January on behalf of the RGS, John Hampden Grammar School and Wycombe High School, stating that  
 
“All young people deserve and have a right to receive equality of funding to enable schools to
deliver a full and appropriate academic and co-curricular programme.”  
 
If the Forum’s recommendations are bypassed in this way with lobbying by parents and individual schools, then the Forum’s role will be undermined and its work made pointless.
 
The education system in Bucks is already in trouble:  
- All the sectors are underfunded

- Less than half the upper schools are assessed as good;  

- Children's Services are inadequate, children are at risk and the Secretary of State for Education has put her own advisors into Bucks:

- the Schools Minister has denounced the 'gap' in achievement between poorer pupils and their peers as disgraceful;  

- School places are mismanaged, with vacancies in the grammar schools and children having to travel long distances to school;  

- School transport costs are out of control;   

- The ' new' 11+  is demonstrably unfair, disadvantaging children from state schools,poorer families and ethnic minorities; and  
 
- BCC's education scrutiny committee is a farce and continues to fail to discharge its duties to scrutinise BCC's role in education.
 
David Williams QC, Wycombe Labour’s Parliamentary candidate said, “It makes sense that the schools with the most needs receive the most money. It also makes sense for the schools which have the poorer results track record to get more money. We know that children with most needs are concentrated in upper schools and their track record is not as
good as the grammar schools.    

I don’t think the principle of ‘every child should be funded equally’ is right.  It is well understood that if you pretend all children are the same by giving the same amount of funding for each pupil, you actually end up with very unequal outcomes. So a funding differential, as recommended by the Forum, is likely to reduce the attainment gap and
inequality.

The selective schools already have an economic advantage, with access to external funding and better facilities, and an educational advantage with a concentration of higher performers.  

Wycombe Labour supports any measure which would tend to reduce the inequalities between selective and upper schools.  The Party promotes equality of opportunity not equality of funding.   We continue to advocate the abolition of the 11+ and the introduction of comprehensive schooling in Bucks.  

The education system in Bucks is in real trouble but BCC don’t even recognise there are problems.   These latest problem with the Schools Forum is just the latest nail in the coffin.

It is time OFSTED came and inspected how BCC is discharging its responsibilities.  BCC should be providing an excellent education for all our children in a local school and on a fair and equal basis. “ 

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