Havering’s Academy Schools: Councillor Robert Benham’s Dilemma

Robert has a dilemma. He’s the cabinet member responsible for education* and knows the majority of Havering’s secondary schools are under-achieving. Havering council has no right to intervene in them. That responsibility lies entirely with the government, which is too remote to be ‘hands-on’. Robert’s dilemma is this: he’s a loyal Conservative but he’s also got responsibility for the children of Havering. If he acknowledges this responsibility, he must lobby the government to terminate the contracts with under-performing academy trusts. If he does lobby the government, he denies their belief that academies are better than local authority schools.

The Problem
Eleven of Havering’s academies have negative ‘added value’. This means the Year 11 group under-achieved the government’s Key Stage 2 predictive outcome. The graphs** show academies with negative added value in 2018 which also under-achieved in 2019.

Final 2 charts
[NB Gaynes School was in negative added value territory in 2018 but lifted themselves in 2019]

Havering’s Academy Trusts
Two academy trusts are responsible for six of the eleven under-achieving secondary schools in Havering. This is compelling evidence that they’re incapable of improving their students.
(1) Empower Learning Academy Trust – Bower Park Academy, The Brittons Academy and Hall Mead School.
(2) SFAET – Redden Court School, Sanders School and The Royal Liberty School
NB The Brittons Academy and Sanders School are ‘well below average’ in the government statistical analysis.

The Solution
Robert should show leadership to try to rectify this appalling situation. His party loyalties ought to be buried in his concern for the thousands of students making their way through the eleven schools identified by the government as under-achieving.

* His cabinet title is ‘Education, Children and Families’
** All statistics are taken from the government site https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/schools-by-type?step=default&table=schools&region=311&la-name=havering&geographic=la&for=secondary
Eight of the eleven made improvements but remain under-achieving, the other three weakened further.

Havering and Redbridge: A Tale of Two Boroughs

Havering and Redbridge have 18 secondary schools each. This analysis of students’ progress from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4 is based on government statistics.* A positive figure means students have had ‘added value’ from their school: they have improved more than expected from Key Stage 2. A negative figure means students have made less progress than predicted.** Havering is poor in general, whilst Redbridge is outstanding.

The graph combines Havering and Redbridge’s results after five secondary school years.


Havering’s mediocrity is illustrated by Sacred Heart, our highest achieving school, ranked eighth behind seven Redbridge schools. The esteemed Coopers school limps in at 12th in the combined list. ‘Added value’ means students have had their performance enhanced during five years of secondary school. Coopers’ gifted students have very good GCSE results, which would markedly improve if it was ‘well above average’.***

Eleven of Havering schools have negative ‘added value’. Their students are doing worse than predicted by their Key Stage 2 results. The graph shows that the worst of Havering’s eleven schools trail a long way behind in the combined list. Redbridge’s worst school is superior to all of Havering’s worst schools.

Councillor Robert Benham should be lobbying for a reconfiguration of Academy Trusts’ leadership. Failing Trusts should lose their franchise and be replaced by teams who accept the challenges of persistent underachievement by a significant number of schools in Havering.

* For Havering see https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/schools-by-type?step=default&table=schools&region=311&la-name=havering&geographic=la&for=secondary
For Redbridge see https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/schools-by-type?step=default&table=schools&region=317&la-name=redbridge&geographic=la&for=secondary
** A zero figure means the school has made no discernible impact on progress.
*** Woodford County High has a 100% score for English and Mathematics; Ilford County High has 95.8%. Coopers has 76.2%. This is streets ahead of any other school in Havering but isn’t a stellar performance.

Chris and Del

Havering’s Academies: The Added Value Audit, 2019

Every parent believes their child will make progress in secondary school. This isn’t guaranteed in Havering’s academies,* regardless of the fact that the government believes Academy schools guarantee progress. In terms of ‘added value’, Havering’s academies are mediocre with 13 schools adding no value between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4.

There are 18 academies in Havering. Five are above average, seven are average with six below average in terms of improving performance. A disappointing outcome for a Conservative government who’ve promised academies will raise standards.

The best school for improving children is Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School which is well above average. ‘Well above’ measures the improvement in scores from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4. This is ‘added value’. (Coopers School has better GCSE results but adds less improvement to their gifted intake.) Other schools have negative added value, including two who are ‘well below average’. They are The Brittons Academy and Sanders School.

Havering’s schools are ‘Academies’ but all academies aren’t equal. Sacred Heart has a confident school management who know what’s best for their pupils. Other academies are part of organisations. The Harris Academy Rainham is in a network of schools, a privatised LEA, with a Chief Executive on £500,000+.

Some of Havering’s Academies aren’t improving standards in some cases they’re lowering them. They’re the unaccountable part of the government’s ideological attack on local democracy. Havering’s academies are failing our children and immediate action needs to be taken.

Redbridge Like Havering they have 18 schools. Ten are well above average, four are above average and four are average. In brief none of their schools destroy educational value in the five secondary years.**

* This statistical analysis is based entirely on the government site – https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/schools-by-type?step=default&table=schools&region=311&la-name=havering&geographic=la&for=secondary
If you wish to compare year on year performance then go to https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/schools-by-type?step=default&table=schools&region=311&la-name=havering&geographic=la&for=secondary&show=All%20pupils%202019&datasetfilter=final
Interestingly you’ll see that Campions School has slipped back from ‘well above average’ in 2018 to ‘average’ in 2019.
** https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/schools-by-type?step=default&table=schools&region=317&la-name=redbridge&geographic=la&for=secondary

Havering’s Deer Should be Culled

North Havering has herds of deer. They’re picturesque and delightful to look at but as they’re living in an environment without natural predators, they breed rapidly. Bambi is apparently harmless but in actual fact is a health hazard and causes road accidents.

Bambi is lovable but not in an urban environment.* Deer are wild animals who shouldn’t interact with humans. They have ticks living on them. This sounds harmless but it’s recently been established that ‘Tick Borne Encephalitis’ has arrived in Britain. Encephalitis usually makes healthy people feel mildly unwell but occasionally it’s lethal for the vulnerable elderly and very young. Havering’s deer haven’t had injections and as they migrate into urban areas they bring ticks with them, with the possibility of disease.

Parks in north Havering look like battle zones as they’re systematically destroyed by deer. Natural habitats are stripped bare.
bluebells fir wood
The enclosure is deer proof but everywhere else is unprotected from the deer’s appetite. Deer destroy everything in their path. Bluebells ought to be growing in profusion but it’s a wasteland. Trees are killed when their bark is ripped off.

Deer roam into the Harold Hill estate. Obviously they don’t worry about the Highway Code. So far there haven’t been any fatalities but there has been extensive damage to many vehicles.

Havering’s deer need to be culled before they cause serious road accidents or spread disease. This is a political decision, which councillor Osman Dervish should address urgently.

* https://www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk/latest-news/tbe-has-arrived-in-the-uk/

Does Havering have too many councillors?

There are 54 councillors in Havering’s council chamber. It’s impossible to justify 54 councillors for 250,000 people. This ratio is only apparently democratic. Councillors are expensive and get in the way of good government.

Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor, represents 8.2 million people.
The GLA has 26 members representing 316,000.
MPs The Romford constituency is about 74,000
Havering has 54 councillors representing 4,600 people each

Andrew Rosindell’s represents 16 times more voters than the average Havering councillor. Do Havering councillors really have so much work that it justifies squadrons of them? What do they do that requires 54 councillors?

The reality is local government is gripped in the dead hand of history. It’s like it is because it has always been that way. And those councillors create administrative clutter. They’re not nimble and don’t represent the people. Havering’s council chamber has become the haunt of the elderly who linger in ‘safe’ seats reflecting a by-gone era. No wonder turn-out is so poor in local elections.

Havering’s local government needs to move out of the era of the horse and cart and slim down. One councillor per ward should be more than enough and then they could be paid a proper salary and held to robust account.

Havering Car Parking Charges: the farce continues

After nine years of Conservative government, Havering has lost 40% of its funding. Havering is a victim of the ‘Age of Austerity’. The pitiless budget* earlier this year was caused by the Conservative government but Damian White is too loyal to say so. In that budget the most vulnerable had council tax increases of 67%, which only raised a million or so. Damian needed more. He turned to car parking charges. Unlike the poor, motorists are politically powerful and were enraged.

Damian doesn’t make evidence based decisions. He seems to use Tarot cards. As a sop to Havering’s motorists, he announced** there’d be six weekends when car parking charges wouldn’t apply. Those weekends are immediately prior to Christmas. This is a period when the council makes a fortune from its car parking charges and is crucial to the annual budget.

The twelve weekend days declared ‘free’ will ‘cost’ the council £500,000 for Romford*** alone. The cost for the whole borough is a million. What’s the strategy? Offering freebies immediately prior to Christmas is insanity. Damian’s freebies should be after Christmas when shops need a boost. Doesn’t he understand why there are January sales?

A post Christmas freebie would have been applauded. Damian’s election prospects in Dagenham and Rainham would’ve been enhanced.

* https://havering.blog/2019/02/02/havering-council-meeting-an-act-of-pitiless-indifference-on-23rd-january-2019/
** Romford Recorder 25th October 2019
*** This is a guess-estimate and is probably on the low side as there’s more intensity at Christmas.