Monday, 20 March 2017

Funding New Grammar Schools While Cutting Existing School Budgets Is Wrong

Government ministers and local Tory MPs like to boast that more is being spent on schools and education than ever before. But what they fail to say is that with more children in schools than ever before funding per pupil is actually falling. 
Local school heads have estimated that cuts in Reading alone could add up to over £7.2million. Budgets cannot be slashed in this way without there being significant impact.
It was therefore so disappointing that the recent government budget simply confirmed that things will get worse for the vast majority of schools.
The headline-grabbing mess over National Insurance contributions for the self-employed stole much of the media attention from the announcement by chancellor Hammond that an additional £320million would be made available for new grammar and free schools. Later we learned that new grammar school pupils could be ferried up to 15 miles by taxi to their schools at a cost of £5,000 per pupil every year. 
But the reality is that local schools are already holding out begging bowls to parents to help, some thinking of cutting the range of subjects they will teach and support for school transport including for disabled and disadvantaged pupils being cut or new charges being introduced.
Others are making the case that grammar schools do nothing to improve social mobility, including former Tory Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, Labour's former shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell and former Deputy Prime Minister Lib Dem Nick Clegg when they say "Those championing selection as the silver bullet for tackling social mobility or as the panacea for creating good new school places are misguided".
My view is that, at a time when we are repeatedly told that public finances are limited, to choose as a matter of political dogma, to fund new grammar schools while existing school budgets are being cut is plain wrong. 
Headteachers and governors are struggling to make ends meet now, so this misguided and ill-timed idea must be stopped. 
With such a slim majority in Parliament there is still time to get it right and provide fair funding for all schools instead of pursuing such a narrow agenda for the benefit of the few. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Redlands parking - new arrangements from 20 March

Look out for the latest round of parking updates in Redlands.

Monday 20 March will see the introduction of pay and display machines in some existing "shared use" spaces - residents parking and limited two hour parking for non-residents - as well as new charges in areas which were previously unregulated.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Artisan Community Food Fair - 18th March

Please come along to this food fair - great food from local producers next Saturday morning at St Luke's Parish Hall, Erleigh Road, Redlands, 

Councillors Surgery - Today In The Church

The Councillors Surgery for residents in Redlands, which would normally be in St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road, will today be held in the Church itself.

10.30am until Noon. All welcome, no appointment necessary. 

Come and meet David Absolom, Jan Gavin and Tony Jones and tell them your ideas, opinions, questions or requests for help or advice.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Pay & Display Comes To Redlands This Month

Pay & Display - part of an overall plan in Redlands
As part of the roll out of resident parking protection initiatives in Redlands, Pay and Display machines will be installed on some streets in and around the Royal Berkshire Hospital area from later this month.

The recent successful launch of the expanded Resident Parking Zones is already proving popular and effective, with many residents now able to park near their homes on a regular basis for the first time in years. The fear of leaving home and returning to find nowhere to park has become a thing of the past.

A further new scheme is soon to be added to Cintra Avenue and Warwick Road, which will largely conclude the current set of schemes.

If you live in Redlands and think residents parking could be improved where you live, get in touch, we'd love to hear from your ideas. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

School Funding - Letter from Reading Primary School Heads

As we await today's budget and what it may mean for school funding, here is a letter recently circulated on behalf of 27 Reading Head Teachers:

Dear parent or carer,

On behalf of 27 Reading Head teachers

School Funding

You may have seen a number of stories in the press around school funding. There have been worrying headlines and we felt it important that we let you know, as far as we are able at this stage, how this will affect schools. 

School budgets across the country have been under pressure for some time. The senior leadership teams at many schools have been faced with funding challenges, leading to a number of tough decisions being made at some schools. In time, it will affect more schools.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has shown that more than half of school leaders felt that their budget would be untenable by 2018/19. The National Audit Office estimate a £3 billion real terms cut across all phases and in all schools.

The recent headlines have been caused by a proposed new funding formula for schools, designed to create a fairer allocation. However, with increasing costs placed onto all schools, including higher pension and national insurance contributions as well as the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, the new formula will not bring the benefits that we had hoped to see.  The School Cuts website, analysing DfE data, projects that schools in our local authority will lose £7,275,456 in total (data from

We will work hard to ensure that cuts have the least impact on teaching possible. However, rising costs and a frozen budget mean that tough decisions will have to be taken. We cannot guarantee that such cuts will not affect teaching, despite doing our utmost to prevent this.

Please be assured that we will take absolute care with budgets, to ensure all the money we have is spent effectively on your children. We are also letting the local authority and government know just how serious the funding issue has become.

We will certainly let you know in plenty of time if our budget means we’ll have to take a significant decision on staffing or activities.

Yours faithfully,

M Bainbridge   St Marys & All Saints Primary
L Bedlow          Caversham Children’s Centre & Newbridge Nursery
S Bergson        Redlands Primary
N Browne         Moorlands Primary & Park Lane Primary
J Budge           Blagdon Nursery
M Buller           St Anne’s Catholic Primary &St Martin’s Catholic Primary
J Carroll           English Martyrs’ Catholic Primary
C Clare            Geoffrey Field Junior
J Cosgrove      Christ the King Catholic Primary
M Cosgrove     The Ridgeway Primary
C Doberska      New Christ Church CE Primary
D Cox              The Hill Primary
T Crossman     Emmer Green Primary
S Daniel           All Saints Junior School
K Edwards       The Heights Primary
S Farrow          Geoffrey Field Infant
D Heath           Norcot Nursery
M Frost            Micklands Primary
J Gray               Battle Primary Academy
J McMinn         E P Collier Primary
E Payne           Blagrave Nursery
S Pengelly        Coley Primary
G Ray              Caversham Park Primary
K Salter            Whitley Park Primary
F Swain            Manor Primary
L Telling           Katesgrove Primary & Southcote Primary
H Wallace        Thameside Primary

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Happy St. David's Day

For those of you celebrating St David’s Day, here’s how to greet your friends.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

That’s how to say ‘Happy St David’s Day’ in Welsh.

It’s pronounced ‘deethe goil Dewi hapeece’.

Today is the celebration, held every March 1, in honour of St David, who is the Patron Saint Of Wales. As such, it is also the national day of Wales.