Monday, July 02, 2007

The schools competition reaches a conclusion...

Cheer up...two new academies are on their way!

Today was decision day for the Cabinet of Southampton City Council to decide who had won the Schools Competition to run two new schools in Southampton.
The report was a lengthy document that was criticised by some (well opaquely by the Labour leader) as not having any one clear recommendation on which bid(s) to favour. In the event the Cabinet went for Oasis Community Learning for both sites which mean that two new Academies rather than Trust schools will be built.
This is an interesting decision as it means that the schols will certainly have their own distinct identity, being run at arms length from the local authority. It was also quite a brave one as much (although by no-means all) of the educational estasblishment seemed to be in favour the Southampton Education Trust. I can't help feeling that the SETs would have meant that there would have been too little rather than too much change- and with falling school rolls and in certain areas, very very low educational attainment, no change is not an option.
Both Labour and the Lib-Dems were in favour of the SET bids, I suspect partly because they still wanted to be heavily involved in running the show rather than commissioning outside experts to run the sites. Labour's Education spokesman Matt Steven's had people cringing when he indicated there were five bids (!) and then proceeded to give a patronising homily on how the cabinet should vote so he did himself no favours with watching members of the public there. Vinson for the Lib-Dems was at least ordered and justified his views with some facts. All the bids were in fact of very high quality although I was taken aback by how vehemently some backbench Labour members were to the very idea of academies.
Interestingly then, the competition showed a phenomenon that is increasingly becoming apparent to Labour watchers in Southampton; how their local councillors are often far to the left of their national party and how in policy terms, they are in opposition to their government.
Lord Adonois at least will be breaking out the champagne this evening.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fail to understand how Cllr Matt Stevens could think that there were 5 bidders when there were only four. He is the chairman of the Childrens Scrutiny panel and chaired a three hour meeting a few days ago solely on the subject of the schools competition.
How can someone who is a teacher, Southampton Labour's spokesman on children and the chairman of an important council panel fail to understand even the most basic point?
Even if he wasnt sure, surely it would make sense to check his papers before standing up and asking such a dumb questions in a room packed with education professionals. Anyway he didnt seem phased. Thick skinned or maybe just thick...?

12:36 pm  
Blogger Matt Dean said...

I too was mystified by Steven's performance; lamentable in his grasp of the issues, he did his party no favours.

3:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My main concern with Oasis is that god seems to be a driving force in their vision...

6:24 pm  

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