I am Chairman and a Trustee at a multi-academy trust which has two schools. Ashmole Academy Trust was set up to extend the outreach of excellent education to more children. I, with the Trust Board set the strategic direction of the Trust and have plans for a nursery and summer school in addition to increasing the number of schools in the Trust.
I started writing this post before the cyber-attack on the BBC which took down BBC web services.
The biggest risk for Chief Executives, in arguably any business, is a cyber-attack and yet senior technical advice is not deemed a requirement at board level and in high level decision making.
I have just been appointed to a Trust Board and on that board I am the only woman and I am the only person with an engineering background.
Technology should be recognised as one of society’s much needed skills and those who are high ranking experts in that profession should be regarded in a similar way to other senior professionals in the field of law, medicine or finance, for example. Governance and Business Boards need to have board members with 21st century skills but until local and national governance acknowledge that technical skills are important to high level decision making then boards will not be representative of knowledge that is used at decision making in daily business life. My perception of board appointments is that a culture exists of sticking to the same type of person for board membership and by doing that women are excluded, ethnic minorities are excluded and those from engineering, and most of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers are also excluded.
Skills that are deemed a requirement at board level such as lawyers, doctors and accountants hold qualifications earned at university, technical engineering qualifications may or may not be earned at university but are not considered important on most boards. Deliverables from finance or medicine, for example, will use information technology for compliance, so why not on a board? Just as you would not want a newly qualified doctor with no experience on a managing board the same applies for an engineer with technical skills. However there needs to be academic labelling for technical skills that is recognisable for the level of skill that an IT professional can bring to a board.
Information Technology is a relatively new industry and so change can be difficult because of a lack of understanding of the skills however all services now heavily rely on technology. Unfortunately because everyone uses technology they think that they are an IT expert however that diminishes the responsibility that IT professionals have to deliver services that are secure and meet business needs.
A technology architect who designs a system that provides services that effect whole communities should have equal weight to that of a lawyer or doctor. A doctor may affect outcomes for a single person where as a Senior Engineer or an IT Architect can affect the outcomes for whole businesses. It has been reported in the media that Chief Executives biggest risk to their business is a cyber-attack. Given that the biggest risk is a security threat that only IT professionals can address it is surprising that their opinions are not being valued at board level.
In my experience a trust board making appointments today would appoint a lawyer easily with only a few years’ experience in planning law where as an IT engineer with many years of experience in engineering IT solutions that provides critical business services would have difficulty in being appointed.
The level of experience and knowledge that a board member brings is crucial to board appointments. For example it is unlikely that you would appoint a Help Desk Assistant to a board and similarly it would be unlikely that you would appoint a Ward Nurse. Just as a board would appoint a doctor, so at a similar level you should appoint Senior IT professionals such as an IT Architect or Senior Systems Engineer.
There aren’t many women in engineering roles and there are few women on boards and it has not been an easy journey for me personally to get onto either which is why I think there needs to be a change in perception of IT professionals and their skills, the simplest solution is to use a naming standard to label IT skill levels so that those outside of IT can agree that an IT Architect or a Senior Systems Engineer is a skill sought after on boards.
As promised by Nicky Morgan MP, the Secretary of State for Education in the lead up to the general election and after, the government have announced that they have secured community language exams. The exams which include Turkish were threatened to be discontinued by examination boards. Conservative colleagues and I supported Londra Gazete in their campaign to reverse the unpopular decision and Nick de Bois met with OCR to ask them to reconsider. A good result for the community and a clear message that Conservatives deliver on their promises.
I joined a webinar “What does a Conservative government mean for education? Sponsored by OCR” with the Secretary of State for Education – Nicky Morgan, Jonathan Simons – Head of Education at Policy Exchange, Paul Steer – Head of Policy at OCR and Schools Week editor – Laura McInerney.
Well done schools week for the first of its kind webinar which provided me and many others with an education forum that was easy to access.
Jonathan Simons explained the Government’s big push on Education in the first days of Government and how they could build on their first term in office. He talked about how schools would not be able to “coast” and that schools would have to achieve and make progress in the future. The Queen’s speech would set out bills for childcare and coasting schools.
Paul Steer from OCR spoke about the decoupling of AS and A level exams, about the new GCSE’s, their grading and progress from KS2 rather than absolute outcomes.
I had submitted a question to the webinar asking about children using laptops in exams. In the Times newspaper there was an article where a loophole had been exploited and that children had been permitted to use laptops in exams. Paul Steer had mentioned this topic and was about to answer my question whether the loophole would be closed or whether this was the start of new policy when Nicky Morgan arrived and unfortunately there wasn’t time for an answer.
The Secretary of State made it clear that Education is a priority of the Government and that every child should have the best start in life. Schools that are failing or coasting will get the help they need for improvement. The schools that don’t improve will become academies and the bureaucracy will be cleared to ease that outcome.
Nicky Morgan made it clear that OFSTED will be coming back in house and that judgements of a school would not only be based on an OFSTED inspection. There would be a consistent basis for judgements with accountability.
I had submitted another question to the webinar asking about minority language exams which OCR had threatened to drop due to a lack of demand. The Secretary of State said that she supported maintaining the exams for minority languages. Good news for all of us supporting this campaign and particularly Londra Gazete who launched the campaign and T-Vine who supported.
Well done Schools Week and I hope to get my question about laptops in exams answered at a later date or the next webinar.
I learnt about the proposed abolition of the Modern Languages exam in an interview with Londra Gazete. They asked for my opinion and I confirmed that it would be something I would campaign to stop.
If you want to save the exams please sign the petition here:
As someone with a passion for education I want to encourage foreign languages to be learnt and taking away examinations for languages is sending out the wrong message.
There are so many reasons why the examinations should remain, such as:
- So that future traders and businesses trade and converse in the language of the country
- To recognise achievement in learning the language
- To formalise a language that may be spoken at home
- To learn different cultures
- To provide UCAS points for students going onto university education
Boris Johnson joined the campaign to support saving the exams and said:
“My great grandfather Ali Kemal, when he was a minister in İstanbul, he actually reinstituted the study of Latin and Greek which was amazingly beneficial.”
I was invited to attend a speech given by the Prime Minister outlining the Conservative Education policy for the next government.
I am passionate about a good education for all no matter what your background and I am convinced that the Conservative commitment to education will give every child the best start in life.
My twins, Harry and Poppy, will start primary school this September and I know that the policies proposed under a Conservative Government will give my young children the best education possible. I agree with David Cameron when he said “like every other parent in the land I don’t want to settle for second best”.
I have been a governor at a state secondary school for the last ten years because I care about our children’s education. I am now Chair of Governors and my role is to challenge the school. It is a role that I take seriously as no child should be left behind. All Head teachers, teachers, staff, governors, students and parents want the same thing, a good education for the children.
I believe a Conservative Government can provide the best start for every child regardless of where they are from.
I ran the Hackney 1/2 marathon yesterday, the first ever in Hackney. This was a first for me too, I have never run a 1/2 marathon before and in the build up to the day I realised that perhaps I should have started small and built up to the event. I should have run in an organised 5k or 10k run before going for a 1/2 marathon. Fools rush in as they say.
The day dawned with the promise of a lovely summers day. I worried that it might be too hot and I wouldn’t manage the whole course, but if it had been cold I would have worried that the cold would hinder me. I was nervous that I would let myself down.
I decided to run for the British Heart Foundation because it is a cause close to my heart. My lovely brother Mem died in 2008 after a lifetime of heart problems and my lovely husband Jon has had a quadruple heart bypass. I hope that any money I raise will go towards helping those with the sort of problems that my brother and husband had.
I thoroughly enjoyed the run , the before and the after. The hardest part was the walk to the car park after running 21k. At the time it felt harder than the run itself. The very good thing about the Hackney 1/2 marathon is it is in London, it is spectator friendly and most importantly for the runner it is flat, no hills! Would I do it again? Maybe? Probably!
I was interviewed by Ruth McKee of the Enfield Advertiser about the new primary school that is to be opened in Southgate for September 2014.
Many parents of children starting school this year will not be aware of this development unless they have been following the We Want Local Schools campaign that I set up with a group of concerned parents; also known as SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team). Here is part of the article and the full article can be read here.
We do pay for state education through our taxes! There is a suggestion in the papers today that wealthy parents should pay for their children to go to the most popular state schools.
There is a problem in my area where parents will cheat and play the school admission system to get their children into the best state run schools. Parents will rent a property for 6 months to a year on the doorstep of a school with an outstanding Ofsted report and good reputation and once their children have gained admission they move away. Instead of paying for 7 years of private education for all of their children they pay 6 months rent and save thousands and thousands of pounds.These parents are cheating local residents’ children of school places and worse still the admission cheat parents do not think they are doing anything wrong and go on to brag about how clever they have been to other parents.
Something needs to be done to stop parents cheating the system and depriving local children of their school place. By encouraging strong local community links we may make parents think twice about stealing other children’s school places if they know that they are acting against the local community. Unfortunately we can’t rely on that and new policies are needed to stop the cheats and I don’t think that paying for state education is the answer. I pay for state education through my taxes!
What is the alternative? I have been campaigning for increased primary school provision in my area and one of the things we have been asking of the local authority is to make the admissions criteria tighter to deter admission cheats. The parents who rent accommodation to buy a good education for their child should be paying for independent schooling. If parents have to pay for state education then a good education will not be available to all and non fee paying schools will become the schools that nobody wants to send their children to.
The school argument proves that parents recognise that education is the key to a good life and a good society. We should be improving state schools to a higher standard so that parents aren’t chasing places at a few good schools but that more good schools are available. For example we all know that smaller class sizes make for a better education and employing the best teachers will get the best results.
I had a marvellous 2013! The year really finished on a high for my SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) primary school campaign and for me personally. There were many ups and downs along the way, but I am a cup 1/2 full type of girl so I enjoy the roller coaster ride of life.
The SWEAT success came after just 9 months of campaigning for increased primary school places in the form of a proposal by Ashmole Academy for a primary school which is scheduled for September 2015. The proposed school is some way off, however the parent support that is needed for it to go ahead has been given by the local community. Members of the SWEAT group and I were busy distributing the Ashmole proposal to toddler groups, nurseries and libraries in December and our efforts have produced the desired result.
The campaign for primary school provision is not over and the 60 school places that Ashmole will provide yearly from 2015 will go someway to ease an increasing problem. Well done Ashmole. The school place requirement will not be satisfied by this proposal and SWEAT will continue to raise awareness in our aim to achieve more school places in the area.
On a personal note I am delighted to have passed Parliamentary Assessment Board and have been added onto the Conservative Party’s list of Approved Candidates. I am looking forward to a busy 2014 in politics.
I am a member of the Friends of Grovelands Park and I attended a general meeting this week. This year was Grovelands Park centenary and hundreds of people attended the celebrations in the park to make it a marvellous success.
I am surprised that there aren’t more members of this group to support and maintain this historic park. If you want to become more involved with the park and the Friends of Grovelands Park, they are actively seeking more members. Annual membership is £5 and their website is here http://www.n21.net/friends-of-grovelands-park-winchmore-hill-n21-london.html. The next meeting is Thursday 21st November 2013, 8pm at St Paul’s Church Hall.
At the FoG meeting we heard about Travellers being evicted from Edmonton and actively looking for a new place to set up in the Enfield area. I had a traveller knock at my door and ask if I wanted anything sharpened the day before the meeting. Does anyone get anything sharpened on their doorstep by gypsies anymore? Or is it a tactic to check whether anyone is at home? I didn’t feel safe.
I had to speak out at the FoG meeting about SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) and our campaign. I clarified what we are trying to achieve and also what Enfield’s current proposals on the land adjacent to Grovelands are. The majority of FoG members have an open mind about the Grovelands proposals, I think that is because we are all waiting to see whether English Heritage says the concept is viable.
Some members, like me, have strong views, some in favour of a school and some against a school. If you support the school proposal please register your support on the SWEAT website http://wewantlocalschools.wordpress.com/
My family and I took a walk in Grovelands Park over the weekend. We had a lovely time visiting the playgrounds, watching the wildlife, playing ball and eating ice lollies.I met a lady with her 3 year old son who attends the playgroup that I also attend with my 2 year old twins and we enjoyed a catch up chat.
I mention this because as we chatted it became obvious that she did not know anything about the concept proposal by Enfield Council for a new school in the land adjacent to Grovelands Park. Admittedly these proposals are in the very early stages and it will not go ahead without the approval of English Heritage however this is something that directly affects this lady and her son and she has no knowledge of it. She will be applying for a primary school place this autumn and visits Grovelands Park recreationally.
How can we reach mothers with young children so that they are aware of news that they need to know of? I assume that details of this new school proposal will not go out in the School Pack that Enfield Council will provide to the parents of primary school aged children this year.
I know that many mothers use social networking, as I do, but do I find out information that I feel is life affecting through Twitter or Facebook? For me that is a resounding No.
I am a committee member of the Fox Lane and District Residents’ Association and we need to attract the younger community, such as young mothers to join up. When members join our association they receive a newsletter and weekly email updates of local news. News that mothers should know about such as schools, local projects and the like.
Unfortunately Residents’ Associations tend to attract mainly older citizens which means that the whole community is not represented and an emphasis is put on things that may not interest younger generations. On the plus side I can say that being a member of FLDRA makes me feel very young even though I am middle aged.
An issue does exist of how to engage with all members of the local community.
I attended a meeting held by Enfield Council proposing a new primary school in the land adjacent to Grovelands Park. I was invited as a key stakeholder because of my interest in Education and my campaign for increased Primary School Provision.
Members of the SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) group, created specifically to campaign for local children to go to local schools, and members of FLDRA (Fox Lane District Residents’ Association) also attended in support of the proposals.
Gary Barnes, Assistant Director, Regeneration, presented the concept proposed, a new 2 form entry primary school built in a style to compliment the neighbouring Priory building. The building would be set down in the land and with a green roof so that the vista from the park would not be disturbed. An excellent proposal that is much needed for the local community.
The first meeting of the South West Enfield Action Team (or SWEAT) took place on Tuesday 25th June at my home. I met the other members of our newly formed group who are prepared to give up their free time and campaign for an issue that is so important to every parent, the education of our children.
In the Fox Lane area there are insufficient local school places and many of the parents are forced to transport their children to schools across the borough or have to resort to private education.
The first meeting for the parent action group is scheduled for next Tuesday 25th June. There is a good deal to discuss:
- The School Expansion Programme Phase 2 Report that was approved by Enfield Cabinet on 19th June
- The setting of clear objectives for our group
- The name of our group (my suggestion is SWEAT – South West Enfield Admissions Team, we’re sweating for our children)
- When, where and the regularity of meetings
- Analyse and understand the Council’s responses to questions raised at the meeting on Tuesday 30th April
- Decide next steps
There are 6 members of the group at the moment and we would welcome further members. If you are interested in joining please use the Contact Us page on this website, wewantlocalschools.wordpress.com or Foxlane.net to get in touch with me.
I am organising an open meeting on Tuesday 30th April to debate Primary School Admissions. FLDRA (Fox Lane and District Residents’ Association) are facilitating the meeting of which I am a committee member.
In our residents’ association area there are insufficient Primary Schools and Primary School places. There is one good community school, Walker, which is Ofsted 1 and an Outstanding school. Many parents cheat to get their children into this school by taking out a short term let on the school’s doorstep and then moving once their child is in. Most admissions each year are siblings so someone who lives in Finsbury Park, for example, can send their 3 children to Walker School because of the Sibling criteria. Maybe the sibling criteria should be changed?
The meeting is in its early stages but if we get the buy-in from local and central representatives then we will have a panel to debate with. The meeting will have 2 parts:
- Understanding Central and Local Government Strategy on Primary School Admissions
- A forum for parents to express concerns, views and opinion
The details of the meeting can be taken on the website I have created for the Campaign We Want Local Schools.
More content to follow soon.
Planning permission has been granted to build 3 new family homes in Bourne Hill, see http://foxlane.net/ planning message in FLDRA messages 31st January.
The plot was previously a car park opposite the entrance to Grovelands Park and would have been used mainly by people going to the park. Is the sale of this plot of land for housing the best outcome for community property? The sale has brought the Council revenue for the short term but what will the long term effect be?
In this area and the nearby Lakes Estate Conservation Area there is a lack of school places both for primary education and secondary education. There is already a crises area in the centre of five or six community schools where children will not be admitted into a school near their home.
Enfield Council have a Primary School Expansion Programme to address this problem in areas all over Enfield however this is a reactive approach that will not resolve an ever growing problem, particularly as some of the proposed schools have objected and been withdrawn from the programme.
The Council receive a five year forecast from the GLA informing them of the number of Education admissions they will require year on year so there is no excuse for the LEA’s lack of forward planning.
There are two publicly owned buildings in Palmers Green that could be ideal for new schools, namely Southgate Town Hall and Broomfield House. I am not so naive that I don’t understand why Council officers prefer housing opportunities in this old Civic building and this historic building as opposed to Education, and the answer is money.
Housing will bring in revenue and Education will bring expenditure.
Housing will demand increased services and Education will provide a service.
Housing will pollute and Education will be green, local children walking to their local school.
More long term planning please!
Michael Gove has confirmed that there will be changes to A levels in 2015 and that AS levels will no longer be part of the A level but will become a stand alone examination. This will make A levels like the linear examinations that have already been introduced at GCSE level.
The linear examinations are like the old “O” level where you studied a subject for two years and then sit an examination. This is in contrast to the modular examinations that have been retired where you studied a small section of the subject and then tested on that section before moving onto the next section; all of these results would go on to the final result. If students had disappointing results in a module then they had the opportunity to re-take. In effect students should never of failed a modular examination. Making examinations linear should produce examination results that are real. When you compare the result of one student to another you will know that they have had the same conditions and therefore it is a truer comparison.
The age for leaving education is also changing and this year the leaving age is 17 years old; a change from 16 years old and it will change again in 2015 again to 18 years old. Students will have to stay at their school or another further education establishment such as college.
I think that a stand alone AS level may be a necessity as students have more years to study than students last year. However if students have to stay in education until they are 18 years old why would you select to take AS level over A level?
The ONS (Office of National Statistics) has published statistics that show that a 1/3 of poorer families in the UK have no internet access at home. This translates to approximately 750,000 homes without internet.
When I was at school I had to go to the library to research my homework or project work. Now if I or any of my family need to research anything Google is our first
stop. Anyone without a computer or internet is seriously disadvantaged. Admittedly students can still gain internet access from schools, libraries, internet cafes, coffee shops and more. I still think that the ease of access by having a computer and internet access readily available at home is far superior to having to seek it out.
One of my daughters went to the library last Wednesday because there were too many distractions at home for her to get on with her uni work. She went to Winchmore Hill library first and found it closed so then she went to Palmers Green library which was also closed. She had to satisfy her need by shutting herself away in her room at home with us noiseys. My point is that she wasted an hour trying to find somewhere quiet to study with internet access and had to settle for home in the end which she was trying to avoid.
Everyone over the age of 12 has a phone these days and you can get internet access from your phone however there is a difference in quick access from a phone to researching project work.I think that education is the key to better society so we need to provide our youth with the tools to improve their education. I know that most schools will provide additional support if needed and we need to make it easy for them to get the access needed.
The London Borough of Enfield has been consulting on how to provide more primary school places in the borough. The Council proposes to expand 10 existing schools to increase the number of children that can be taken into Reception classes and in some cases into Year 1.
In my area of Southgate and Palmers Green there are expansion proposals for Walker School and Broomfield School but there are no proposals for a new school. A new primary school could be situated in the old Southgate Town Hall which is empty.
I support the proposal for the expansion of Walker School which is rated a 1 by Ofsted and offers outstanding education. I attended the consultation meeting at Walker which was the forum to have my say. I live ½ mile from Walker School but will be unable to get my twins admitted due to over subscription. There are other issues with admissions to Walker where parents rent properties next to the school for a short period and then once their children are admitted move further away thus taking places that should rightfully belong to people who really reside in the immediate area, but that’s another story!
I do not support the proposal to expand Broomfield School. Broomfield School is rated a 4 by Ofsted and therefore has issues regarding the quality of education provided. It would mean changing the age of admission from 11-18 to 4-18. I would not want to send my child to a failing school so I cannot understand the thinking behind expanding this school. The effect of an expansion would be to force poor education onto more children in the community. Surely a new school in the area would be a better proposition. There is a separate consultation for Broomfield School.
The consultation period is over but if you wanted to comment or get involved then I think the Programme Director of the Primary School Expansion Programme, Bridget Evans could be a good starting point.