Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Firm outcomes needed on Primary Schools


One of the more interesting developments last week was a meeting between Medway MPs with Barbara Peacock. The big question eminating from the meeting - aside from the lack of detail - was why Cllr Les Wicks and Rehman Chisthi MP were not in attendance.

Was this a diary oversight?

Given both Cllr Les Wicks and Rehman Chisthi MP represent all and 2/5ths respectively of the population of the Medway towns; and one is the MP for Gillingham and Rainham; it just seems to many parents that once again the Medway Tories as a whole are not prioritizing the issue of Primary Schools.

Indeed, before posting this blog I waited a few days to ascertain whether follow up meetings were due to occur; perhaps a press statement from Rehman’s office or a comment from Les Wicks on the meeting. I have heard nothing which is not to say nothing is happening, merely perhaps it has not been communicated well to the public, which given public interest is important as well.

Having meetings with officers is of course important and Mark Reckless, to be fair, has done an analysis of sorts on schooling in Rochester and Strood, though his solution limited to procuring good headteachers; but the public need an action plan and also follow through on what happens if results are still poor by Autumn / Winter 2013. Given our MPs are involved this surely now becomes an issue they should all accept responsibility for.

No one is expecting miracles but the public need to know by what measure is considered a success on KS2 and OFSTED; because without a coherent and firm direction of travel parents will righly ask whether anyone is to be held to account should, once again I fear, we remain close to the bottom of the table.

It does not look good that Rehman Chisthi appears absent when it comes to cross-constituency working in Medway. One would hope that securing improvements to Primary School results would stand above all other issues.

Labour is willing to work to improve results but we do believe that with a new, and highly capable, officer that new political direction from the Council is required. It is not a partisan point because the opposition don’t call for every portfolio to resign; but do believe Cllr Wicks has outlived the role which is shared on Tory blogs and we suspect in the Conservative membership.

We and they are not alone in this assessment; the press and public share concern which is why MPs refusing to answer the question on political direction; and whether they back Cllr Wicks; could be considered dereliction of responsibility. How can they claim to be standing up for pupils when pressed on the political direction, which is the area of MPs expertise is it not, they simply refuse to deal with the issue?

For an MP to say they only wanted to meet the officer in my mind is counter-intuitive; and highlights the level to which they are unwilling to engage on the substance which in the case of MPs is the politic as well the outcomes. In the case of education in Medway the two are linked because the Council Portfolio holder is the face of policy and delivery to the public.

In some cases new direction requires renewed political leadership; they either agree or disagree with this position

I assume a follow-up meeting will occur with Rehman and Les Wicks and perhaps then the public can get some concrete proposals which the public can scrutinise and hold those in office to account. 

If we don’t get concrete proposals then the public will rightly hold our MPs to account for the failure to lead on this crucial area.

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