8 June 2014 – issue 1
HANDS OFF NEWS
KEEPING YOU UP-TO-DATE WITH NEWS FROM HANDS OFF HOVE PARK SCHOOL
GOOD NEWS FOR PARENTS
PARENTS’ BALLOT PLANNED TO TAKE PLACE IN A FEW WEEKS
Councillor Sue Shanks, Chair of Brighton & Hove‘s Children and Young People Committee, has told Hands Off Hove Park School (HOHPS) that a ballot for parents will take place in the next few weeks and certainly before the end of the summer term. The welcome decision to ballot parents was taken in a meeting of the Children & Young Peoples Committee at the Council on Monday 2nd June. The majority of councilors present felt it was important to give parents the opportunity to have their say in this way even though the school has continued to refuse to do so as part of its consultation.
Let your friends and neighbours know why Hove Park shouldn’t become an academy, including the fact that there is no guarantee of extra money for buildings when a school becomes an academy, despite what parents were told at consultation evenings – see this excellent research by former Department for Education officer https://handsoffhoveparkschool.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/a-brand-new-building-or-just-the-chance-of-a-new-boiler/
SCHOOL TO HOLD ELECTIONS FOR MISSING PARENT GOVERNORS
Following the discovery by HOHPS that Hove Park School has 3 parent governor vacancies unfilled (including one which has been vacant since last December) the school will now have to hold elections before the end of this term to fill these vacancies before any decision on academy status can be made. The school was going to push ahead in deciding on academy status without a full quota of parent governors, meaning parents were set to be seriously under-represented in any vote on the issue. Following complaints about this to Brighton & Hove’s Director of Education, the school is now set to hold elections before term ends. Look out for information on this from the school and make sure you vote for the parents you think will best represent you.
ACADEMY STATUS DECISION POSTPONED UNTIL SEPTEMBER
Parents were pleased to receive the most recent letter from HPS Chair of Governors, Mr. Mike Nicholls, outlining the decision to postpone a vote on academy status until 22 September. The decision to postpone comes after campaigning by parents for a ballot and election of parent governors. Parents were alarmed and shocked that the school was considering opening as an academy as early as September after realizing that the proposal was both flawed and misleading by presenting parents with untrue claims that academy status will bring money for much needed new buildings into the school. Parents are still very worried that governors are being pushed to decide on the issue when there is no evidence to support benefits of academy status but many risks associated with it. We hope that this sensible postponement will allow the governors to assess the risks and uncertainties that come with proposal and really scrutinize whether there are any real, evidenced benefits for young people and families across Brighton and Hove.
WORRYING BACKGROUND OF MR ROBERT BACK
Parents attending the consultation evenings for parents last month will have seen a presentation from Robert Back who was described in literature from the school as a ‘Department for Education representative’. HOHPS has found out that Mr. Back is not an employee of the DfE and is unlikely to be impartial on the issue of academy conversion. His role is that of ‘broker’, a consultant advising schools in south-east England on how to carry out academy conversion.
At Companies House he was listed as a Director of academy chains Bau Foundation and Mentora Academies Trust, which form the same company, from August 2013. In December 2013, the planned academy conversion of three schools in Oxfordshire under Mentora collapsed after the heads and governors probed the intentions of this same trust.
We’ve written to the Board of Governors to alert them to Robert Back’s background -see the letter here: https://handsoffhoveparkschool.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/background-on-academy-broker-mr-robert-back/. Our letter has been sent on to the Department for Education and we are awaiting a reply.
SAVE THE DATE – 5th JULY
JOIN A MARCH AND PICNIC TO CELEBRATE OUR COMMUNITY SCHOOLS & THE END OF THE EXAM SEASON
Students and families from Hove Park and all Brighton & Hove schools plus teachers, local residents and anyone who cares about education in Brighton & Hove are all welcome to join the march and picnic
Music…speakers (including Mark Steel and Caroline Lucas MP) … bring banners, bubbles, balloons, drums and whistles, musical instruments, games, picnic food and blankets
Meet at at 10.30am for a march through Hove via George Street ending at Hove Park for the picnic (STOP PRESS: there may be a change of assembly point/march route – watch this space for confirmed details coming soon)
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