Sunday, 9 February 2014

City of Leeds Public Consultation not quite Public Enough

When is a public consultation not a public consultation? Answer, when the public don't know about it. 

This is best done by private academy consultation company, Artelia, who used similar methods at Heath Hayes Primary School, in Staffordshire, as they are trying it on at City of Leeds School.

The only piece of advertising for this public consultation in public was in the North Leeds News, a local newspaper with intentionally a small circulation. Sadly, the date given of the public meeting was inaccurate, so the very few who were readers weren't given a chance to attend. 

City of Leeds School has, for decades, attracted its students from all round Leeds, in particular, but by no means exclusively, from those areas at the other end of the No 1 bus route: Beeston and Holbeck, and also, Harehills, Chapeltown and East End Park. Were their local papers not considered worth contacting?

At the school Reception there was a little display of the academy proposal fliers, but this is a high school. Students are either dropped off in cars or make their own way.

The only  parents waiting in reception tend to be the Polish speaking, Polish reading parents, waiting to enrol their children (yes increase the numbers on roll, and in all different school years). Not only Polish, of course, but you get the point -  new parents, whose interest in and understanding of the intricacies of UK education system will necessarily be restricted to - can my children come here?

In my opinion, if, as it said on the natty little green and white document, our "views are important to us", if this true, and if you have the money to employ this private firm, with its Sevenoaks' office address, then you have money to take an advert out in the Yorkshire Evening Post. Or even do a press release to the local tv and radio stations, as well as the local papers.
If you do get hold of the document, the middle section is turquoise green, most writing in black, fairly hard to read. At least the important contact details were on a different colour! Sadly that colour is red. Now that is unreadable. As are the words: Consultation ends at 9a.m. On 30th January 2014. 9 a.m!

At the most recent Anti-Acadmies Alliance AGM, we found out that Artelia used the same tactics at Heath Hayes - lack of proper publicity, same hard to read colour scheme etc. All a bit shabby, all a bit can't really be bothered. 

This fight is for City of Leeds to lose. And, if Artelia loses it, well, there's plenty more schools in deprived areas, and the more traumatised immigrants [I'm simplifying here!] they get, the worse the academic results, and hey presto - it's the school that under-performing! And, all the good teachers must have left! 

Three years ago, City of Leeds School became the first UK School of Sanctuary. No mention of this anymore; and the sign outside the gates, long since taken down.