Recruitment at NUAST

Hands Off Our Schools has just issued this Press Release:

Press Release 9 January 2016 IMMEDIATE

A campaign group is claiming that recruitment to Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology (NUAST) is “chaotic”, with low and fluctuating recruitment and a significant drop-out rate, that are putting the school at “serious risk of failure”. Secretary of Nottingham-based ‘Hands Off Our Schools’, Colin Tucker, has obtained details of the numbers of students recruited and retained, via ‘Freedom of Information’ requests.

“These show that the school only managed to recruit 67 students into its Year 10 in September 2014, of whom 14 left during the year; others apparently joined and by the beginning of this academic year (November 2015) there were 61 in that cohort. Recruitment into a school whose buildings weren’t even open might be expected to be poor – but it was even poorer during 2015 and the number in the NEW Year 10 (November 2015) is only 48!” explained Mr Tucker.

He went on, “The drop-out rate in Year 12 – first year Sixth Form – was very high. They started with 35 in September 2014 but by November of this year, that had dwindled to just 19! (in Year 13). All the more surprising, then, that numbers in the current Year 12 are high with 92 students. Recruitment is, frankly, all over the place – it’s chaotic. They clearly don’t know from one year to the next how many students they’re likely to have.” During the first academic year, according to NUAST 6 teaching staff also left. “I’m not clear if this figure includes the Principal, Mr Sohel, who suddenly disappeared in July, just before the end of term,” added Mr Tucker.

The ‘HOOS’ group supports schools that serve and connect to their local communities, and campaigns against forced academisation and so-called ‘free’ schools (NUAST is a hybrid of a new academy and a ‘free’ school). Mr Tucker says they have analysed the figures. “It always seemed likely to us that NUAST would struggle to persuade students to leave their current school at the end of Year 9 and that is borne out by the figures,” he said. “Whereas, students traditionally decide at the end of Year 11, after GCSEs, whether to stay in their current school’s Sixth Form or to go elsewhere, perhaps to a specialist Sixth Form College. On the basis of these figures, we can predict that NUAST – which we think is at serious risk of failure overall – may well end up trying to be a Sixth Form-only institution. In which case, it has failed to carry out its purpose. However, we know from staff and parents of established local Sixth Form colleges, such as Bilborough, that they are under capacity and struggling for funds. We can also see that, in three of its four year groups, NUAST is a long way from viable, and can only keep going with heavy subsidies from the tax-payer. ‘HOOS’ has consistently said that the money lavished on NUAST – the original building alone cost £10 million – could have been spent far more efficiently on enhancing facilities and teaching at existing schools.”

ENDS

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Meeting Tuesday 18 March – Agenda

Here is the Agenda for our next meeting on Tuesday 18 March, 7-9 pm at Oban House in Beeston:

1. Apologies/attendance

2. Minutes of last meeting

3. Matters Arising

4. Nottingham Free School – update and way forward

5. Other local issues and campaigns: updates

6. Stand Up For Education – update

7. Date of next meeting

“Keep up the pressure”

That was the message from Anti Academies Alliance National Secretary, Alastair Smith, at the AAA Annual General Meeting on Saturday. He was delivering his annual report, following a number of updates from current campaigns. These included the one at Gladstone Park in Brent, where a previously ‘Good’ school was judged ‘Inadequate’ in the November inspection and the day following the publication of the report, the school heard it was being forced to become an academy. There are currently weekly campaign meetings involving parents and they have created a lot of media interest. Their local MP is Sarah Teather, former schools minister, who has arranged a meeting of the governors with Michael Gove.

The meeting also heard from teachers at the Alec Reed Academy in West London where teachers have staged a three day strike because of the appalling bullying attitude of the management. As the West London Academy, this was one of the original academies under Labour. The horror stories were given as a warning of what can happen in academies further down the line.

In general discussion during the meeting, further stories about campaigns were given. These included, Downhills, Roke Primary — who are planning a demonstration this coming Tuesday at the Croydon headquarters of the Harris organisation which is ‘pencilled in’ to take them over — and Connaught Girls School in Waltham Forest,  where a ten day strike did not prevent academisation.

Colleagues also reported from Leicester, Lancashire and Sheffield.

A key point made by several speakers throughout the meeting was the role of the Labour Party. There were clearly a number of Labour members present and they agreed it was necessary to put pressure on the Party and on shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, in particular.

The meeting was shown an excellent film called Academies and Lies, available on Youtube. Follow this link:

http://m.youtube.com/?reload=3&rdm=mjm0387g9#/watch?v=rRjK-_MlrC0&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DrRjK-_MlrC0

We were also urged to look out for a film recently made and shortly to be posted on the NAHT website and to watch The Sunday Politics tomorrow (17 March) which will include an item on academies/free schools.

In summing up, Alastair said the purpose of the AAA was to “continue the task of breaking down the myth of academies”. All the research, he said, showed that academies narrowed rather than extended the curriculum. He thought the process of academisation was likely to continue apace, perhaps even accelerate. The job of the AAA was to continue to put pressure on Michael Gove and on Labour.

Fairfield academisation: opposition mounts

A meeting on Wednesday evening (16th January) revealed considerable opposition to proposals for Fairfield Primary School in Stapleford to convert to an academy,  among parents at the school and those at nearby William Lilley Infant School. This site has been contacted by several people who were at the meeting. One of them listed concerns expressed at the meeting,  including a possible rise in costs for activities, the expectation that parents purchase iPads for their children and the speed with which the proposal is being rushed through.

Another commented: “A group of parents from William Lilley Infant & Nursery School who attended the meeting at Fairfield are, I believe, not happy with the proposals for academy status and the lack of notice given to them before a decision is made. They are planning to take further action.”

The consultation period has been set to run until 15th February and Hands Off Notts Schools would support parents in urging the governors at Fairfield not to make a decision until that process has been completed.

If you are a parent at Fairfield or another local school, such as William Lilley, or a local resident, and you are opposed to the academy conversion, we would urge you to contact the Chair of Governors at Fairfield to express your opposition. You might also wish to request that the governors do NOT make a final decision at least until after the end of the stated consultation period, and that the governors should conduct a proper ballot to determine accurately the feelings of all parents at the school and at ‘feeder’ schools.

 To contact the school you can:

  • write to: The Chair of Governors, Fairfield Primary School, Toton Lane, Stapleford, NG9 7HB
  • email ‘theoffice@fairfield.notts.sch.uk’, putting ‘FAO Chair of Governors’ in the subject line
  • go to the school website at ‘www.fairfield.notts.sch.uk’, click on the ‘Contact us’ button, scroll down and complete the contact form (remembering to press ‘Send’ when you have done!)

Hands Off Our Schools Campaign launched at Alderman White, Bramcote Park and Bramcote Hills

The governors of the White Hills Park Federation are exploring the possibility of converting Alderman White school, Bramcote Park school and Bramcote Hills college to academies.

That would mean taking them out of the Local Authority family of schools, in which the LA provides a range of services, including support for students with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Instead the schools would ‘go it alone’, receiving funding direct from the government and taking on a range of responsibilities and liabilities, ranging from buildings maintenance to pensions.

The Hands Off Our Schools campaign is opposing their conversion to academy status and fighting to keep them as community schools. We believe that Alderman White, Bramcote Park and Bramcote Hills and their students have nothing to gain from converting to academy status and that it would have a negative effect on them and on the wider community.

There is no new money associated with becoming an academy. The only difference is academies receive money direct from the government to buy in a range of services no longer provided to them by the local authority.

The academy then has to buy in these services, ranging from SEN support to Human Resources expertise – but without the economies of scale enjoyed by a local authority. That could quite possibly mean they pay more for the same services. What does that achieve for the schools and their students?

Parents and prospective parents are being consulted on the idea of Alderman White, Bramcote Park and Bramcote Hills converting to academies and we think it is vital they make their voice heard. Parents and teaching staff at The Kimberley School recently succeeded in their campaign against it becoming an academy and we think we can do the same here.

Follow us on Twitter at @Notts_Schools.

Get involved in our campaign (see details of what we are doing in the events section)