Thursday, 22 December 2016

Reading's Key Stage 2 results in perspective

To put this year's Key Stage 2 results in perspective, of 152 councils, Reading's position over the last 4 years:

2013 - 149th / 2014 - 130th / 2015 - 103rd / 2016 - 50th

We are working hard to keep this trend heading in the right direction!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Public Surgeries 2017

David, Jan and Tony work for Redlands all the year round
Councilllors David Absolom, Jan Gavin and Tony Jones are pleased to announce the dates and venues of their public surgeries for residents in Redlands in 2017.

"Just Walk In" surgeries are held on the second Saturday of every month, alternately at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road and at the Hexham Road Community Centre. 

Surgery hours are 10.30am until noon.

No appointment is necessary, and all discussions are confidential.

The calendar for 2017 is as follows:
  • January 14th - St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road
  • February 11th - Hexham Road Community Centre
  • March 11th - St Lukes
  • April 8th - Hexham Road 
  • May 13th - St Lukes
  • June 10th - Hexham Road 
  • July 8th - St Lukes 
  • August 12th - Hexham Road 
  • September 9th - St Lukes 
  • October 14th - Hexham Road 
  • November 11th - St Lukes 
  • December 9th - Hexham Road 
We also undertake regular "street surgeries" on  most other Saturdays in the year. 

This is where we deliver notices to you a day or two beforehand, then on the following Saturday morning, if you want to see us you all  you have to do is put up the "Please Call In" notice in your window.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Reading Pupils Above National Average in Key Stage 2 Results

READING'S children are performing above the national average according to figures released today.

The Key Stage 2 statistics show 56 per cent of Reading pupils are achieving the expected standard compared with 53 per cent nationally.

This ranks Reading at 50th out of 152 local authorities compared to 103rd last year.

Reading has improved its ranking across a wide range of key measures:
  • 71% of pupils in Early Years achieved a Good Level of Development. Nationally this was 66%, improving our ranking from 65 to 45.
  • At Key Stage 1: 61.2% of pupils achieved the expected standard in Reading, Writing and Maths and this is also above the National Average.
  • 56% of pupils achieved the expected standard at the end of primary school, which is 3% above the national proportion.
Every primary school in Reading is above the Department for Education's minimum target and, when taken cumulatively, the individual progress measures reported for each school would put Reading above the expected standard.

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading's Lead Member for Education, said:

"These Key Stage 2 figures are very welcome and demonstrate how far we have come in delivering improvements in education in primary schools in Reading.
I would like to congratulate all the headteachers, staff and pupils for the hard work put into these new style tests which were much more rigorous than previous years.
We will continue to work with all schools to ensure improvements continue to be made in all areas"

Monday, 12 December 2016

Surjit Singh Kainth - RIP

Earlier today I attended the funeral of Surjit Singh Kainth - or as he was fondly known to many in Whitley / Redlands, "Ken".

Surjit was a very well-respected member of many communities and organisations across Reading, free to offer his help as readily as his opinions! He will be greatly missed.

"My heart is full of memories, With pride I speak your name, Though life goes on without you, It will never be the same."

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

New Residents Parking To Be Introduced On Monday 23rd January 2017

After considerable consultation and planning the new residents parking scheme in Redlands now has a date for its introduction in the streets: Monday, 23rd January 2017.

Specific details will be sent out to residents in good time advising which parking zone they are in, how to apply for parking permits and visitors tickets.

The scheme includes a mix of residents only parking, shared parking between residents and limited time parking for non-residents.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Jeremy Corbyn's Speech To South East Labour Party Conference

Last weekend South East Labour (which includes Reading) held its Regional Conference where leader Jeremy Corbyn made this speech: 

"We meet after the global wake-up call of Tuesday's US presidential election.
Whether in the US or the UK people feel left behind. Marginalised by an economic system that makes them work harder for less, while hoovering up ever greater rewards for a small elite.
People are right to be angry with our failed economic system, falling living standards and rising inequality.
Young people today find it ever harder to get a home of their own. Harder to find good secure jobs. Landed in lifelong debt simply for trying to get an education.
Older people see their children and grandchildren struggling. Their libraries and community services cut. Their friends’ social care worsen.
They’ve seen politicians privatise what once belonged to everybody and paid the higher bills and higher fares as a result.
And if we don’t step forward and offer real solutions that meet the needs of our time then into the vacuum step the merchants of hate and blame.
They see the problem, but instead of offering solutions to make people’s lives better, they offer someone to blame.
Nigel Farage blames immigrants yet offers not a single practical proposal to put a penny more into the NHS.
He actually wants to privatise our NHS, a service that now relies on hard-working migrants to keep going.
The Tories bandied around terms like ‘scrounger’ and ‘skiver’, whipping up division against the unemployed and people with disabilities.
And in the US we’ve had the shocking spectacle of Donald Trump’s election campaign, which found an unending list of people to blame: women, black people,
Mexicans, Muslims, military veterans. Everyone except the billionaire class of tax dodgers to which he himself belongs.
However, we should remember that Donald Trump tapped into real problems: stagnating or falling wages, underfunded public services, insecure work and housing, years of being left behind and neglected, frustration that your children’s prospects look bleaker and anger at a political elite that doesn’t listen.
But instead of offering real solutions, or the resources to make them work, he offered only someone to blame. Everyone, that is, apart from those actually responsible for a broken economy and a failed political system.
The Tories do the same. They have opened the door to UKIP and fanned the flames of fear.
Theresa May, as Home Secretary, fed the idea that immigration was the real problem; made promises she knew they couldn’t deliver about slashing numbers and whipped up hate with ‘Go Home’ vans.
No wonder she didn’t even temper her welcome to Donald Trump. She has used the same strategy herself; if delivered with more refinement.
We have no idea how Donald Trump proposes, as he has said, to “make America great again”, and Theresa May’s Tories offer slogans, but not solutions, for most people in Britain.
We won’t tackle the damage done by elite globalisation just by leaving the EU. We won’t ‘take back control’ unless we take on the corporate vested interests that control our energy, our transport and have infiltrated our public services.
One thing is for sure, neither billionaire Donald Trump nor the billionaire-backed Tories have any interest in giving people back control or reining in the predatory excess of a globalized free-for-all.
But Labour is in the business of real solutions to the problems and failures that Trump and the Tories are unable to address.
Let me start with housing.
House prices are 40 per cent higher in this region than in the country as a whole, and that has a knock-on effect on rents too.
The housing market has become a play thing of investment opportunities for a few, not about homes for the many.
The Tories have had six years of failure on housing and it has hit working class people in the South East hard:
Home ownership has fallen;
Housebuilding is 50,000 lower;
Homelessness has risen every year that the Tories have been in power;
And families are being forced into overpriced, poor quality and unregulated private sector rents and increasingly forced out of this region because of the cost of living.
Thanet Council house waiting list is 1,433. Thanet has just over 3,000 council properties.
Labour will allow councils to borrow to build council housing again and we will suspend right to buy so that when that housing is built it stays.
We will invest in building genuinely affordable homes to buy, rent or for shared ownership. We have put forward a plan to invest in building housing and to create skilled jobs in the construction sector, and to meet higher standards of energy efficiency benefiting the occupants and the environment.
We will toughen regulation on the private rented sector to ensure homes are fit for human habitation and rents are controlled.
In this region, there are many areas that have been neglected for too long. For the year to June 2016, unemployment in Thanet was 6.9 per cent, which is significantly higher than both the South East average of 4.1per cent and the Great Britain average of 5.1 per cent.
This region has been starved of the investment it needs by a Conservative ideology that says the Government’s only job is to step back and let the market take care of it.
Well, that has failed. So through a Regional Investment Bank for the South-East, we will put forward £30 billion of investment for this region.
That will be targeted on creating good sustainable jobs – high skilled, well paid and secure.
Especially in this county we need to restore pride and prosperity to many of the coastal towns that have been left behind. Where the Tories neglect, Labour will invest.
Small businesses in the south-east have nearly 20 per cent of the national turnover, yet they receive only 13 per cent of bank lending
So a regional investment bank must ensure that those businesses who pay their taxes and respect their workers have access to the finance they need to secure their future and to grow.
We’re not going to use public money to subsidise dirty, groundwater-polluting, landscape-scarring industries like fracking.
We will invest in the transition to a low carbon economy, not clinging on to polluting technologies that we can consign to history by harnessing technological advances with public investment.
And that investment delivers a return; a stronger economy, better jobs with higher incomes that produce more tax revenue to better fund public services.
We have huge natural resources in the UK, a world-beating history of scientific research and technological development including in many of our institutions of academic and scientific excellence in this region.
As a country we lag behind the rest of the world’s major economies in generating energy from renewable sources. We lag behind on the speed of our broadband and we lag behind on our transport infrastructure too.
Nowhere is that more true that on our railways
To those who commute on Southern Rail, I offer you this pledge:
Labour will bring the railways into public control and remove the incompetent privateers who have leeched public investment and the highest fares in Europe into directors’ bonuses and shareholder payouts.
That is not how the next Labour Government is going to allow things to be run.
Andy McDonald, our Shadow Transport Secretary, has been campaigning with you across the Southern Rail network and I know things aren’t much better on South East Trains or South West Trains either.
That’s why the next Labour Government will take back control from the privateers and put control in the hands of passengers, commuters and elected politicians. We will invest in rail, invest in on-board broadband and cut fares.
You, here in Ashford, know the benefits of High Speed Rail and good rail connections.
The NHS is Labour’s proudest creation and as someone who once represented NHS workers, I know the dedication of NHS staff.
But, under the Tories, the NHS is in crisis like never before
We know that flu epidemic or the norovirus can lead to a winter crisis but the Tories have put the NHS in crisis in spring, summer, autumn and winter.
NHS waiting lists have never been longer. NHS deficits have never been larger and they are growing.
More people are waiting longer in pain for an operation. More people are waiting longer, often in severe pain, in A&E
Over £4 billion of cuts to adult social care inflicted under the Tories has left hundreds of thousands of people without a care package. Thousands more with minimal 15 minute visits and more elderly people turning up at A&E due to neglect and not safe to be discharged home because the support is no longer there.
Faced with this unprecedented crisis in A&Es, this unprecedented pressure on the NHS, what is the Tory solution?
They wasted £3 billion on a top-down reorganisation of the NHS, they have privatised services, like ambulances in Sussex, and that privatisation has failed.
Our great friend Ken Loach has quite rightly lead the protests against a £700 million privatisation of NHS services in Bath. Our excellent Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, has already condemned this.
They are threatening a new round of A&E closures and downgrades.
This is why we are determined to bring all NHS Services back into the family of NHS provision.
That’s why we are focusing our National Campaign Day on Saturday 26 November on defending our NHS.
So I want every CLP in the country out in their community campaigning to defend our NHS and to highlight the damage that the Tories have done.
Our National Health Service – free at the point of use – with parity of esteem for mental health services and integrated with social care. That is at the very core of our vision for the kind of society we should be.
And I want you, the CLP officers, the councillors, trade unionists and other activists,  to work together to get as many of our members out on the streets on 26th November.
Because our party doesn’t have the benevolence of the press barons, it doesn’t have the donations of oligarchs. What we have is each other. Over half a million of us.
More members than every other political party in Britain, along with the millions in our affiliated trade unions.
Our Labour Party now has over 550,000 individual members. In the South East alone we have more members than the either the Lib Dems, the Greens or UKIP have in the whole country.
That membership is our most valuable resource. If we organise it, then our ability to speak to voters, stand candidates, and lead campaigns in our communities, that ability is second to none.
And working together, we can expose their failures on the economy, their failures on housing, their shambolic Brexit, their failed privatisation of our railways.
By working together we can get more Labour councillors next year and a Labour Government to rebuild and transform our country so that no one and no community is left behind."

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Reading Council v Low Paid Women Workers: The Wait Goes On

Reading Borough Council still fighting Low Paid Women Workers with expensive hired lawyers - An up-date

Equal Pay – back pay claims still waiting to be settled

UNISON claim on behalf of 61 low paid women, jobs include:
  • ·         Assistant Cook
  • ·         Care Assistant
  • ·         Cashier
  • ·         Clerical Assistant
  • ·         Community Care Assistant
  • ·         Cook
  • ·         Creche Worker
  • ·         Domestic
  • ·         Extra Community Care Assistant
  • ·         Night Care Assistant
  • ·         Post Office Cashier
  • ·         Relief Care Assistant
  • ·         Residential Care Officer
  • ·         Senior Cashier
  • ·         Social Work Assistant
  • ·         Waking Night Care Assistant

A few job titles have been omitted to avoid identification of individual claimants.
Claims submitted February / July 2009.

One claimant has died waiting for a settlement

1.     RBC lost when these cases went to tribunal. As such any staff still in employment with RBC has had their pay increased. (Though, for example, the Post Office was in the old, now demolished Civic Offices and is long closed!).

2.     The issue is therefore of RBC arguing over the level of back-pay owed

3.     RBC is the last employer in England to be holding out on offering any settlement with UNISON to the mass claims.

4.     However, RBC, continue to say this is not true, but this is what the union’s solicitor’s Thompsons say – and they are representing UNISON through-out the country.

5.     Over £6million of the money set aside for this settlement has been used by RBC to prop up and balance the council’s budget this year.

6.     Last year a commitment was made by council at the budget making meeting of the council (in February 2016) to settle this summer (2016).

7.     More recently promises said to “get some paid before Christmas 2016”. Who might they be - the post office cashiers whose jobs no longer exist? Bet they won't be the care assistants.

8.     Now the council is talking about settling during the next financial year (2017/18). There is a strong suspicion that most payments are to be held back until after April 2017.

9.     RBC confirmed that it had spent £724,370.40 on “legal advisors” as at 27 September 2016, fighting cases which has already been lost in the tribunal. This figure does not include the cost of any work by council employed staff.

10.  Though there a few cases where over £40,000 is owed, for the vast majority of cases the figure in between £10k and £15k.

11.  The cases went back to the tribunal in Reading in October 2016 for expert witness advice on the level of settlement, with obvious extra expense of outside legal fees. This could soon top more than £1million.

12.  RBC has steadfastly refused to consider any “out of court” settlement. RBC says "its in the hands of the lawyers" - but RBC is the client who directs the lawyers!

When all this is said and done, it will be interesting to see how much has been paid out to lawyers and how much to the low paid women. We will do the sums in public.

This is a continuing shame on Reading Borough Council.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Redlands Parking: Pay & Display, the RBH and Party Political Hypocrisy

For many years now the Council has been lobbied by local residents who live in residential streets around the Royal Berks and struggle to park near their homes

The location of the hospital - and the lack of parking provided by the hospital itself - brings with it huge pressure on limited residential parking spaces.
The agreed  scheme involves a variety of restrictions, including residents only parking, pay and display and shared use bays. It has been designed following five years of detailed consultation with local residents and is tailored to best meet local needs on a street-by-street basis, while maintaining a level of short term parking for hospital visitors.
Without introducing this level of protection, local residents would have continued to face the daily frustration of not being able to park near their homes. 

We have seen hospitals in others parts of the country successfully relocate from town centre and residential locations to modern new edge of town facilities with good transport links. Going forward, that is something I believe needs to be given serious consideration by the Royal Berks Hospital.

Other details

New parking arrangements for residents and visitors should hit the streets in January 2017.
The scheme was supported by the Conservative councillors in the council committee - but has been attacked by at least one of Reading's Tory MPs since.
The scheme was supported by the LidDems in a leaflet put out in Redlands, but opposed by the LibDem councillor in committee.
The Greens praised the scheme in committee, but abstained from voting for it.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Update On Reading's Two New Swimming Pools

An update on major plans to build two new swimming pools in Reading will be presented at the next meeting of the Council's Policy Committee on Monday, 31st October.

The update report provides a timetable for the procurement and delivery of modern new leisure and swimming facilities at both Palmer Park and land at Rivermead by 2020. These will replace ageing and expensive-to-run facilities at Central Pool and Arthur Hill.
The New Arthur Hill Pool: An example of a 6 lane 25m pool
The timetable shows the award for the leisure contract would be in place by early 2018, construction would begin in the summer of 2018 and the two new pools would be open for public use early in 2020.
Plans for two new pools were first announced by Reading Borough Council in November last year as the Council moves to provide modern and much-improved facilities for swimmers and other pool and leisure users in the town.
The Council last week confirmed the closure of Arthur Hill pool in east Reading from December 19th. The cost of bringing the building up to an acceptable standard, combined with estimated running costs over the next 3 years, amounts to more than £1 million. A capital receipt for the sale of the site will contribute to modern new swimming facilities at Palmer Park.
The new 6-lane 25-metre community pool would be physically linked to existing leisure facilities in Palmer Park, creating a modern new multi sports hub for the east of the borough
Local residents have indicated they wish this to be called "The New Arthur Hill Pool".
The Policy report also outlines the plans to replace Central Pool with a new competition pool at the Rivermead site. The Council's minimum specification for this is a modern 8 lane, 25 metre competition standard pool. Unlike any other pool in Berkshire, the proposal is also to include diving provision at the new facility, as well as hosting a range of indoor sports.
The proposals for both the new pools are subject to Planning Permission.
In order to minimise costs and drive the best possible value for money, both the Palmer Park and new Rivermead sports facilities would be delivered and managed by a development partner specialising in leisure provision. 
The Council has appointed a dedicated project manager and a leisure specialist consultancy to support and advise on the procurement process. The plan is to award a contract that encompasses the design, build, operation and management of the facilities.
Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading Borough Council's Lead Member for Culture and Sport, said:
"The publication this week of a definitive timetable clearly illustrates this Council's commitment to delivering two new purpose built swimming pools for Reading. In the case of Palmer Park, a 6 lane community pool would be added to existing leisure facilities creating a modern new multi-sports facility for east Reading. On land at Rivermead, a brand new competition pool will be provided and this will be the only facility in Berkshire that will include dedicated diving provision, as well as a range of other indoor sports on site.
"At a time of unprecedented Government cuts to our budget, building two new pools is ambitious and a major commitment on the part of the Council, but we feel very strongly that people have the right to expect modern new sports facilities. The new facilities will be delivered by a development partner who will be identified through a detailed procurement process and that partner will also be responsible for the day to day management of the sites.
"The Council this week had to take the very difficult decision to close Arthur Hill pool, which was being subsidised by more than £100,000 a year. Realistically only a huge investment would have allowed it to remain open and the budget challenge we face means we are no longer in a position to invest money in ageing facilities which would only have a limited lifespan. Instead, we are choosing to invest in modern new sports facilities which residents will be able to use for many years to come.
"The temporary pool which will open at Rivermead will help plug the gap pending the opening of the two new pools. Temporary pools of this kind are of a high standard and have successfully been used in other parts of the country."
Reading Borough Council has made more than £65 million of savings since 2011 as a result of Government cuts and increased demands on services. Latest estimates are that more than £41 million worthy of savings still need to be made by 2020.
Reference: Policy Committee report at (Item 11).

Friday, 21 October 2016

Monday, 17 October 2016

Women drag last equal pay claim council to court, says UNISON

Reading Council - still fighting low paid women
Press statement by UNISON, 17 October 2016
Reading council – the only local authority in England and Wales never to settle an equal pay claim – will today (Monday) be challenged in court by more than 60 women owed over £1.5m because they were paid less than their male colleagues for years, says their union UNISON.
The women – mostly care workers, cooks and administrators – are angry that seven years on from the council’s acceptance it had broken equal pay laws, none of them have received a penny in backdated pay.
UNISON says that although the council has set aside £9m to settle its equal pay obligations, it has instead been using the cash to balance its budget.
One of the women is owed as much as £47,000, with her remaining colleagues due an average of £10-15,000 each, says UNISON.
UNISON has accused Reading council of dragging its feet, and rather than doing the right thing by paying up, has chosen instead to shell out more than £800,000 on lawyers in an attempt to delay settling its equal pay debts.
But today at an employment tribunal in the town, UNISON will argue that because so much time has already passed, the low-paid women shouldn’t have to wait a moment longer for the wages they are owed.
The council has taken so long with these equal pay claims that one of the claimants has died since the case was lodged.
The women’s case is based on the fact that Reading council was employing men doing equivalent jobs to them but paying the men substantially more.
Commenting on the tribunal, UNISON south east regional secretary Maggi Ferncombe said: “Reading council has known for many years it was guilty of treating its low-paid male and female employees very differently.
“But rather than cough up the cash owed when it had the chance, the local authority has instead chosen to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on expensive lawyers trying to avoid settling the case.
“The council’s actions are nothing short of immoral. The stress of the last seven years has taken its toll upon many of the women, who will be hoping that today really is the beginning of the end.
“Seven years is way too long for anyone to have to wait for wages that are rightfully theirs. Hopefully Reading council will today see sense and pay the women the money they are due.”
Notes to editors:
- The tribunal – at 30-31 Friar Street, Reading RG1 1DX – is expected to last all week. At 9.30am on Monday morning the women will be staging a protest at the council’s failure to pay them the wages they are due.
- These claims arose because Reading council previously had a system of paying bonuses to staff in manual occupations, and they were predominantly men. The bonuses were not available to women doing jobs of equal value. Some of the women have claims dating back as far as 2003, which run up until 2011 when Reading council introduced a new pay and grading system.
- Today is the third time the Reading equal pay case has been the subject of a tribunal hearing since 2009.
Media contacts:
Jenny Mason T: 01483 406513 M: 07534 247182 E:
Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E:
Alan Weaver T:  0207 121 5555 M: 07939 143310 E:

Friday, 14 October 2016

Palmer Park New Swimming Pool - First Images

Here are the first visualisations of what the new swimming pool at Palmer Park could look like. The pool will be built from the proceeds of the sale of the Arthur Hill building.

View from car park approached from Wokingham Road

View from south eastern approach 
While these are initial ideas, no one should under-estimate the determination of the council to get these modern, accessible facilities on site as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Justice delayed is justice denied" is a legal maxim meaning that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all. 
This principle is the basis for the right to a speedy trial and similar rights which are meant to expedite the legal system, because it is unfair for the injured party to have to sustain the injury with little hope for resolution. 
The phrase has become a rallying cry for legal reformers who viewcourts or governments as acting too slowly in resolving legal issues either because the existing system is too complex or overburdened, or because the issue or party in question lacks political favour.


There are conflicting accounts of who first noted the phrase. According to Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations, it is attributable to William Ewart Gladstone, but such attribution was not verifiable. Alternatively, it may be attributed to William Penn in the form "to delay Justice is Injustice".
Mentions of justice delayed and denied are found in the Pirkei Avot 5:7, a section of the Mishnah (1st century BCE – 2nd century CE): "Our Rabbis taught: ...The sword comes into the world, because of justice delayed and justice denied...", and the Magna Carta of 1215, clause 40 of which reads, "To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice."
Martin Luther King, Jr., used the phrase in the form "justice too long delayed is justice denied" in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail", smuggled out of jail in 1963, ascribing it to a "distinguished jurist of yesterday"

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Redlands Ward Surgery - Saturday, 8 October

Cllrs David Absolom, Jan Gavin and I will be holding our regular Labour Councillors' Ward Surgery for residents at Hexham Road Community Centre, between 10.30am and noon today.

No appointment is necessary and discussions are strictly confidential.

Ward surgeries are held on the second Saturday of each month, alternating between St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road and the Hexham Road Community Centre.

David, Jan and I also undertake "street surgeries" on other Saturdays and weekdays - so watch out for the window poster!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Reading Amongst Top Ranking Performers in Education League

RESULTS show big improvements at Key Stage 2 with Reading’s national ranking for reading, writing and maths (RWM) combined rising from 103rd to 49th.

This places Reading in the top third in the country and is the first time in at least 10 years that the borough has achieved above the national average for the proportion of pupils reaching the expected standard.

Last year Reading Borough Council found itself in 109th position out of the 152 local authorities for Level 4B+ in RWM. The number of pupils achieving the higher standard in reading, writing and maths (RWM) at Key Stage 2 this year has boosted Reading into 10th position.

The results for Level 4B+ at Key Stage 2, compared to the higher standard, shows that Reading has moved from 119th to 27th place nationally in reading, from 95th to 24th in maths and from 38th to 24th in grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS).

Although these are based on early indicative results, the council is pleased for the pupils at schools across Reading and thanks the schools and their staff for their hard work and dedication to improving outcomes for the children of Reading.

Reading’s rankings have improved dramatically in all but one of the key measures according to a report going to the council’s Adult, Children’s and Education (ACE) Committee on Monday 3rd October.

The report looks on the initial provisional outcomes for pupils within Reading Borough Council during the 2015/16 academic year which saw some extensive changes in education.

National comparisons are not yet available for GCSE results but the Attainment 8 in Reading – a numerical score across eight subjects – is at 5.2, which is the equivalent of grade B across eight subjects for all Reading students.

The percentage of students achieving both English and Mathematics is 65.9 per cent. The council is pleased with the early indications across all the Key Performance Indicators.

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Member for Education, said  “These figures represent a fantastic effort by pupils and teachers in schools across the borough.
“It is great to see Reading amongst the top performing local authorities in the country and the council will do everything in its power to ensure every child in every school in the borough gets the support they need to succeed.”

The full Report on Outcomes for Reading Schools being presented to ACE committee on 3rd October can be read here:

Sunday, 11 September 2016

9/11 - We Must Never Forget

I still have vivid memories of September 11, 2001 and the days that followed. 

We must never forget.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Redlands Ward Surgery - Saturday 10 September

Ward surgery for residents - today

St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road
Redlands Labour Councillors' regular Ward Surgery for residents will be held at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road, between 10.30am and noon today. (Saturday).

No appointment is necessary and discussions are strictly confidential.

Ward surgeries are held on the second Saturday of each month, alternating between St Lukes Parish Hall and the Hexham Road Community Centre, in addition to our very popular roaming street surgeries all the year round.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Reading Pupils Celebrate GCSE Results

PUPILS across Reading are celebrating a strong set of GCSE results.
At this stage there are no national statistics to make direct comparisons and it is difficult to compare results with last year.

However, early indications from schools are that 66% of students in Reading schools have achieved C or above in both English and Maths. This is clearly an improvement on the closest equivalent measure from 2015 when 57.5% gained 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths.

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading's Lead Member for Education, said:
"Congratulations to all Reading pupils who have achieved some fantastic results.
"We are seeing some great GCSE results at schools across the borough against a backdrop of a national downward trend.
"Of course, there will be pupils who haven't received the results they were hoping for and I would encourage them not to panic and to take advantage of the help and advice available to them.
"I would also like to thank the borough's teachers whose hard work and dedication have helped young people achieve their results."

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Political Propaganda - Some Things Aren't All They Seem To Be

I did have to smile at the way GetReading reported on the open letters supporting the two candidates in the national Labour leadership election.

“Find out how many leading Labour party members in Reading backed Smith compared to those who came out for Corbyn” wrote veteran reporter Linda Fort.

The report then went on to describe how 40+ "prominent Labour members" had signed up to a letter supporting Smith and this was set along side a Corbyn supporting letter signed by 10 current councillors. 

Make of that what you will - or what it implies.   

The instigators of the pro-Smith letter have been telling each other on social media how delighted they have been with the coverage. Others have talked about the importance of winning the "PR war".

PR war? Is it a sign of confidence or desperation that the letter of 10 current serving Labour councilors needed to be met with a mighty barrage of 40+ signatures creating an impression – intended or not – of an over-whelming majority in favour of Smith?

I remember that in a previous national party leadership election a former leader of Reading Labour group proudly declared that he was "ABB" - anybody but Blair. Listening carefully to my fellow Labour members debates I have sensed that very many supposed "pro-Smith" are actually not that, but simply "ABC" - anybody but Corbyn.

Anyone familiar with the dark arts of propaganda knows the value of that the old saying “A lie will get half way round the world before the truth has got its boots on”, so it is not so surprising that there has been no clarification from the pro-Smith signatories that they are not all  "leading Labour party members in Reading". I'm sure, by the way, this has never been their direct claim - just how the press interpreted it.

A scant inspection of those listed by Get Reading as pro-Smith include former Reading comrades who are now scattered far and wide - but are NOT members of the Labour Party in Reading. A few examples - my friend Howarth now lives in Newcastle, Morris in Plymouth, Hartley and King in London, Zieleinski in Scotland ... I could go on. All good honourable friends, but none living in Reading. And some, as one current councillor put it, "who are they?": please, be more respectful.

It was quite literally laughable – a good stunt well played – but not that funny when we think that many could soon be three-time losers in today's politics: on the losing side of the last leadership election, the losing side of the Brexit debate (something we need to think long and hard about in places like Whitley and Hexham Road), and if as expected , once again be on the losing side of the leadership elections.

If that proves to be the case, what will they have to say to the party and the town? 

PS And by the way Linda, you could have described me as Cllr Terry's husband, rather than the other way round - Liz and I, at least, agree on that!