Sunday, February 01, 2009

School ideas?

ul Angel has left a new comment on your post "SOS (Save Our Schools) for Swanage":

Blimey - this thread reads like a fiesty night in the pub, only it appears that some of the rowdy regulars have fallen asleep or gone home now and the conversation has got sensible again! No doubt I could read back to my earlier posts and find something someone would be offended by though - apologies if that's the case!

Can I suggest that we have a new thread that deals only with POSITIVE and CONSTRUCTIVE ideas about the way forward for education in Swanage and Purbeck? If we were to start from the assumption that the proposal may be re-thought we could play with ideas, either 2 or 3 tier, with any and all ideas put forward?

The rules would have to be that a post could suggest a closure, merger, new-build, secondary school, university or the status quo without being shouted down... difficult I know, but we need to talk about these things. In a new thread you would have to give positive reasons for change though, not negative reasons why a given school might not be one w=you agree with!


Posted by Paul Angel to swanageview at 9:57 PM


Anonymous said...

pheeew...does that mean we can begin by being positive and try to create a wonderful new future for our children..Thanks Paul for giving us a new focus.

I think most have agreed by now...if they have read all the evidence...that this proposal needs to be are we now able to use the new Sustainable Communities Act and make bottom up proposals that will be listened to. Probably not yet..but being positive..perhaps soon.

Keep the 3 tier or similar

Avoid childen having to be transported to Wareham at the tender age of 11..not good for their souls or the environment..unhappy, un-nurtured kids = low self not learn.

Lets create a 21st Century local School..what will teach our children to face the challenges that will be presented in the near future..lets teach things that are to grow veg, learn about our environment, how to build our own to make our own to be renewable energy to restructure our transport to be more creative (we have a wealth of local artists) to rebuild the community of Swanage/Purbeck..lets get back to some common sense learning...

The future of education in Swanage could be bright and beautiful...We are already being told that many students are coming out of university with top degrees..but unable to get jobs..if the recession deepens further..we will need skills to survive!! Unfortunately, due to the National Curriculum being so narrow, there is not even time to take children for a nature walk to appreciate and learn about their wonderful surroundings.

Please continue to DEBATE and CREATE!!

Paul Angel said...

I suppose as I seem to have started a new thread I should say what I think would be good.

First, some background: I've had a long conversation with the National Association for Small Schools. I spoke to a former Ofsted inspector and now an educational consultant who gave me tonne of statistics about the excellence of small schools. Essentially, they are financially viable and they can offer the broad curriculum needed and he informed me that the vast majority outperform large schools in all areas. The 14-19 curriculum and specialist schools status mean that no schools will be offering the same lines of learning as their neighbours, and from the age of 14 parents and children will be entitled to take some of their learning at one school and some at another. It already happens with pupils from Purbeck spending days at Poole College or at Kingston Maurward on apprenticeships.

Think of how we all want our youngest children in schools with a 'village' feel, something we have at all Swanage schools at the moment. Imagine if that could extend into their later years...

So... my suggestion, and just an idea based on the facts and figures found through trying to decide on my thoughts on 2 tier education is (drum roll):

Swanage First, St Mary's and St George's (with rural school status)adapt to Primaries on their own sites, as they all say they can anyway. St Marks is rebuilt as an eco Primary school using the Primary Capital Funding in place on the Middle School site (with a reduced net capacity or inbuilt flexibility to allow for future growth)and EITHER of the existing secondary school buildings in town should then be created as 'Swanage Secondary School' (or something!). We have 2 secondary school buildings in Swanage, and whatever Mr Nash says, they are both absolutely fine for 21st century education - it's teachers that teach, the bricks and mortar just keep the weather off!

The present intake, based purely on current figures, would give each year between 90 and 100 children assuming that some parents would still prefer to send their kids to Wareham, which over the 5 years would mean a school of 450 - 500 pupils, more with provision for the 14-19 curriculum.

There are a number of very successful secondaries across the UK with fewer than that, and a growing feeling (including within Conservative Party policy) that this is the way forward. Purbeck School would still be more than viable with 900-1000 pupils as a 2 tier secondary. (Apologies to the other Middle Schools, I know that might not go down well there!)

I honestly believe that if a school were opened in Swanage offering excellent teaching and pastoral care, which under a head like Mr Pratton (for example!) it would have, it would draw even more families to the town, wheras further removal of education will drive families away. It would attract people from outside the catchment too, in the same way that children are now sent from Swanage to Poole because Purbeck has such a poor reputation.

Mr Nash's argument on Weds last against a new seconadry in Swanage was that they would not get the funding for a school larger than they needed, yet the plan at the moment is to build a school with space for 1600 pupils with only a 210 annual intake - so bigger than they need. He also said that small schools can't offer the full curriculum, when there are dozens of case studies, many in west and north dorset, which prove this untrue.

We should be promoting Swanage as an example of a fantastic place to raise children, surrounded by the wonders of the natural environment and with a set of small primaries and a small, friendly secondary in which to nurture children on our doorsteps.

I do go on a bit, don't I! Sorry!

Anonymous said...

A gentle message of encouragement from Transition Dorchester.

"If a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worst"
Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928)

The challenges presented to us today are perhaps the greatest that humanity has faced. This time brings a great opportunity for rethinking the way we live and making conscious choices about what kind of community and world we would like to live in.

Transition Town Dorchester is a not for profit organisation & we openly/ actively promote local debate...
(leading local community to local resilience)

Anonymous said...

Agree with Paul Angel. We need to raise standards and achievements in Swanage for all of our children and to enhance the viability and diversity of our entire community. Reject the entire proposal and let's unite to get a better outcome for Swanage. After all we are "special"!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dave Pratten and Paul Angel. Lets create a better future for all of our children and our community. Lets unite!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just need to figure out how to do it. Struggling a bit on that one myself.

Anonymous said...

The 'knowledge' gained from other recent local campaigns is that it is VITAL to remain friends with everyone else -whatever and whenever - and to keep to the specifics of why the current proposals won't work in Swanage. Ensure that you have agreed a few alternatives to these proposals as a basis for debate and be organised, cohesive and consistent in communications and you're almost there. It does work but it also takes a helluva lot of stamina! Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Paul has the right idea here. I've said before on this site that we need a new secondary school here in Swanage. one that is ready to teach for this century not the last one. The structure can still accomodate Purbeck school though as that could be the base for distributed learning across Purbeck. It could provide library services which would be largely online anyway and allow for a wider range of teaching specialisms across the area. DCC must bite the bullet and repurchase the GS site at Days Park. Alongside both PDC and STC we can then start to construct a new school with attached facilities for the town in sport and leisure. Just as Wareham has had for the last thirty years!
Our new school could be a real pathfinder for collaberative and distributed learning with fully modern IT and online systems.
We could create a strong presence for the school by allowing it to specialise in Earth sciences ( Geology, Geography, Ecology etc) utilising the fantastic location we have. Think of the links that can be forged (with payment) to other schools both online and physically for lessons!
I don't think keeping 3 tier can happen but one thing we must ensure is that we keep our children here in our community if we are to give them a sense that we value them and to give them our shared values. All this would also allow local parents to make a real choice over which school to send their children to. At the moment there is none.

Shaun Moyler said...

I really like the idea of using the local facilities and that are already here as a mainstay or enhancement of a secondary education. In terms of facilities, the Townsend Centre and Leeson House immediately spring to mind as well as some sort of links with Jurassic Coast developments etc. When you look at how many schools come here for field trips etc it does seem perverse to remove secondary education further away.

Peverilpens suggestion that this could be a "pathfinder" proposal is absolutely spot on. There is a real opportunity to tailor make an education system that suits both local situation and within broader ideas of sustainability, eco awareness etc. I suspect DCC's response to slightly more radical or more inventive plans will always be to dismiss them because they are "unknowns". I fear that would be the biggest barrier to overcome. But - that doesnt mean its not worth really putting something coherent together.

Anonymous said...

URGENT! Purbeck Review Meeting 6:30 pm, Thursday 12th Feb, Swanage Middle School

We need as many people to attend Thursday's meeting as possible to show the strength of opposition to the proposal.

Please remind everyone you meet to look at our website : to become more informed about our arguments. ( There is also a link to this from the SMS website : )

Anonymous said...

Look on the other SOS thread. There is an interesting article posted from the Echo which has quotes from the HT at Purbeck School. There are lots of comments following on from it which really do shed some light on the problems faced with this proposal in terms of supporting Purbeck School at the expense of our younger children.
Does Mr Holman have a vision?

Anonymous said...

You'll find it in January

Anonymous said...

News from the Purbeck District Council special meeting held yesterday, 18th Feb. The statement is taken from the PDC website.

Future of Schools in Purbeck- District Council urges County to think again

Purbeck District Council is asking Dorset County Council to think again and improve its consultation process to ensure that all options are fully discussed before making a decision on the future of education provision in Purbeck.

Dorset County Council is proposing to move away from the current 3-tier education system to a 2-tier system in a bid to reduce surplus school places. This would see the closure of all four middle schools in Purbeck. The District Council refused to comment on the relative merits of either system of education as it is not an education authority. However, it has called upon the County to reconsider the options and ensure that parents, teachers, governors and children have a say in deciding which of the options should form the basis of education in the district.

At a packed special Council Meeting, which was called to discuss Purbeck District Council’s response to the County Council proposals, Councillors heard that many people felt they had not been fully consulted on all of the available options. District Councillors drew particular attention to public feelings about this during their debate.

The District Council will now submit its detailed response to the consultation, which will also ask the County Council to ensure that it takes full account of the environmental and social implications of any proposed changes to schools.

The current consultation period will end on 4 March 2009 and it is anticipated the County Council will consider all of the responses during this summer.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why they adopted the three tier system when Dorset went comprehensive back in the seventies? Before then 11 and 12 year olds travelled daily to the grammar school in Swanage and even had to walk up from the station in all weathers. I imagine this would be regarded as an unendurable hardship today.

Anonymous said...

Sounds as though you are unimpressed by the hardiness of today's youth?

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me that people are going off topic.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why they adopted the three tier system when Dorset went comprehensive back in the seventies?

'they probably thought it was a good idea at the time'

Before then 11 and 12 year olds travelled daily to the grammar school in Swanage and even had to walk up from the station in all weathers. I imagine this would be regarded as an unendurable hardship today.

Strange that...all the children used to be coming to Swanage, now 'they' want them all to be going to Wareham!!

Lets keep it local!! For children, environment and community.

Paul Angel said...

It is important to understand why we have three tier here and in other parts of Dorset they retained the two tier model. My suggestion for Swanage (earlier in this thread) is for a two tier system within the town purely because I realise that there just aren't enough children to sustain a three tier system within Swanage alone.

According to a Hampshire County Council report I've just googled "In many parts of the country, including Hampshire, a move to comprehensive education was only possible because the introduction of middle schools, and therefore 12-16 year secondary schools rather than 11-16 year schools, alleviated accommodation problems." So it could be said to have been largely a pragmatic response to a need to amalgamate Secondary Moderns and Grammar Schools to create Comprehensives on a single site. There are also strong educational and pastoral arguments why the three tier system is better than two tier, but the introduction appears, from what I've read, to be associated with an egalitarian model of education which post-1979 became politically unpopular and so support for three tier declined.

The point of having a full education system returned to Swanage would be in part to prevent the need for long journeys. Of course children used to walk to Swanage Grammar school - the majority of 9,10,11 & 12 year olds currently walk to Swanage Middle. The point is that the children live in one part of Swanage and walk to another part of Swanage. If parents choose to send their children to another town for education that is their choice. At the moment we are forced to do this.

I'm quite prepared, by the way, to accept that Swanage's Secondary school might be better as a 'satelite' of Purbeck School. Providing Purbeck meets the standards of excellence we'd expect of a secondary here in Swanage!

Anonymous said...

I understand that Jim Knight visited St Georges today - any chance that he admits that this proposal is flawed; and that County will go back to the drawing board?

As someone who lives and was educated in Swanage, but has no kids, or nieces/nephews of school age I wont make any suggestions as to the shape of local education, but .....

The idea of a Community school is, to me, fascinating; accent on Community.

My basic gripe with schools and colleges is that ´we, the taxpayer´ pay for them and ´we, the taxpayer´ benefit from them, but usually only 9 - 5 Mon to Fri. Oh, yeah, and only for about 40 weeks of the year.

Community School - Pre School, School, After School, weekend and holiday activities, Adult/Further Ed, Library, Park and Ride inc car valeting, Youth Club, Day Care, Cattery, Kennels, Blues/Jazz/Folk/Film festivals, allotments - growing local food for local - and non-local - people, internet cafe, art gallery, film and photo processing,

Streuth, tomorrow, THE WORLD!

Just trying to make a point, but many of those could be money making, I´m sure that it would have some legal/ethical problems, but if it´s the community working together to support and develop it´s local facilities i.e. it´s schools, then why not?


I´m not expecting the existing staff to manage all those projects either.

Anonymous said...

Jim Knight has confirmed that the proposal is flawed. He suggested many good ideas including those suggested by the SOS's group. But in past posts he has also confirmed that the final decision will be made by the local councils, in this case Dorset County Council. So how much can he change the final decision?