More on St Andrew’s Primary School

Firstly, the OFSTED report can be found by following the above link.

Secondly, I had a call from a parent yesterday asking me about the Aintree and Maghull Champion’s newspaper article that was published this week under the between the eyes headline of ‘School’s Governing Body sacked’.

The query was about the Governors and I was able to clarify that Sefton Council had applied to replace the Governing Body with an Interim Executive Board but that the decision was yet to be made by the Secretary of State for Education. So yes the Governors are still in post.

My understanding is that a formal announcement will be made after 25th July. I also hear that the School could well become an Academy.

More news if and when I pick it up.

Sefton’s population drops – A cause for concern?

The Liverpool Post and Echo says this:-

‘JUST 17 local authority areas in England and Wales recorded drops in population in this week’s Census results – but three of them were on Merseyside.
The situation was worst in Knowsley which had the second biggest drop in the country at 3.5% and now has just 145,900 inhabitants.
It wasn’t much better in Sefton which had the third highest drop of 3.2% to 273,800. St Helens also lost 0.8% of its population and has 175,300 people.’

Read More

Labour and Scrutiny on Councils

The Liverpool Echo has recently exposed some internal e-mails from Labour Whips and their leadership to backbench Labour Councillors and interesting reading it has been too.

You see that the big problem with Labour, and it always has been, is that when in absolute power (such as they are on Liverpool and Sefton Councils) they close ranks and keep power and influence very close to them. The last thing folks in absolute power want is to be scrutinised; that is why it has to take place. Have Labour learned nothing from Merseytravel’s recent unfortunate history.

The exposed e-mails indicate that Labour councillors in Liverpool are being told how to dress and the men have to be clean shaven! Speaking as a Liberal and one with a beard such conformity is just not on. Yes, you can understand that you don’t want your councillors to look scruffy as that does nothing for your Party or Council image BUT having a dress code for elected representatives is just Labour being controlling.

The other matter exposed is that it would seem that Select Committee Chairpersons on Liverpool City Council are being told what they can and can’t do when in reality they are the very people who are supposed to lead the scrutiny of what the Council, or more precisely the Cabinet/Executive, does. It is simply wrong under a Council that operates a Cabinet/Executive/Mayoral system of governance, where just a small number of councillors control all the major decision making, for the people who are supposed to be poking about into all sorts of Council activities to be seemingly told by their political masters what to look into or not. On most Councils those posts are called Scrutiny Chairpersons and they have a Committee working with them. If they are not turning the Executive’s decisions inside out who on earth is? Well, no one is the answer if the Council leadership is dictating the agenda.

And on Sefton the same sort of problem arises as the Bootle dominated Labour Party have taken all the Scrutiny Chairpersons posts and it seems that little or nothing will happen as a consequence other than a Scrutiny Chair being asked now and again, by the Labour high command, to waive some issue through without them being looked into simply because the Labour leadership would rather they not be scrutinised.

There is nothing like the comrades for doing business behind closed the doors.

St. Andrews C of E Primary School – MADCOS & the former Woodend Primary School

It is always sad to see a local school facing difficulties and poor old St. Andrews is certainly in that category following OFSED putting it in ‘Special Measures’.

When I first heard about this some weeks ago I was genuinely surprised (as much as I was when Southort’s Birdale High Academy hit a similar set of buffers recently) as this School has long been held to be amongst the best of the primary schools in the Maghull area, certainly in terms of popularity. Now that popularity may well have been influenced by the fact that some folks have always viewed it as being a feeder school for Deyes High Academy when in fact it has never been that in reality.

It is not so long ago that St. Andrews was going through a massive rebuilding and expansion programme and one that was hardly popular with the other Maghull primary schools as they all felt it would lead to more children going to St. Andrews and consequently less to their schools. But this was the reality under Labour’s competition between schools aimed at driving up standards. The weak would fall by the way side and the strong schools would thrive, I suppose you could say.

To be honest the culture of schools being in competition with each other to attract children never really took hold in the East Parishes part of Sefton to same extent that it may have done elsewhere. Surprisingly, in a period of encouraged competition the schools in the East Parishes stuck together and formed their own partnership group called MADCOS – Maghull and District Cluster of Schools. An innovative and successful partnership that has looked at and acted on many areas for schools to cooperate, learn from each other and seek to save costs by working as a single unit across 3 high schools (2 of which are now Academies) and numerous primary schools.

Some years ago I tried to help my former Maghull Primary School (Woodend) from being closed. It had great OFSTED reports but was suffering from a general fall off in numbers of local children i.e. too many school places for too few kids. Eventually it closed despite Cllr. Andrew Blackburn, with some help from me and a couple of others, delivering lots of information leaflets around Maghull and indeed Aintree to sell the school to parents looking for a good primary school. We did not manage to convince enough parents to pick Woodend (maybe they were already set on sending their kids to St. Andrews?) so the school closed it doors. It is now the 6th Form block of Maghull High Academy. As an aside whilst canvassing in the local elections this year I was taken aback by one householder opening the door to me and then blaming me and the Lib Dems for Woodend closing! The reality was that we were the only political party fighting to save the School so how this person should get the wrong end of the stick to beat me with on the door step is a complete mystery.

But returning to the plight of St. Andrews what will come of it? Well I hear that the Governors are likely to be replaced by an Interim Executive Board that Sefton Council will help bring in. How the School tries to recover and convince OFSTED that it is capable of delivering the quality of education they are demanding remains to be seen but we must hope this happens.

Unless my memory is poor I can’t recall a school in the East Parishes part of the Borough getting into this level of difficulty before and I hope there is a happy ending.

Adrian Williams – A community gardener

Adrian died recently and his funeral was on Friday. He was an active and enthusiastic gardener and was a leading light in Maghull Horticultural and Gardening Club.

I came across Adrian via my work with the Maghull in Bloom volunteer group. Adrian helped to organise a gardening competition in Maghull during 2011 but a few months ago he suddenly became seriously unwell.

He was a decent man who on one occasion referred to himself at a Maghull in Bloom Steering Group meeting as an ‘old grumbly’, which I found rather endearing.

We will miss him.