Havering’s Academies’ GCSE Results, 2021

The government…announced that it would not publish school or college level results data on Compare school and college performance (also commonly referred to as school and college performance tables) in autumn 2020 or autumn 2021, and that this data would not be used to hold schools and colleges to account (my emphasis)1

 

Havering’s academies awarded GCSEs in 2020 and 2021 through teacher assessment. Most of them interpreted the government’s position to mean they shouldn’t publish detailed GCSE results. As a consequence there’s no celebration of achievement or any accountability to students, parents and the people of Havering.

Abbs Cross: their most recent data for 2021 is devoid of content. The summary statement for 2021 is an obfuscation. What does “9-4 English and Maths 78%” mean? This entirely undifferentiated statement is meaningless. Likewise, “9-4 Best English.”2 They do say Pupil Premium students achieve significantly less well than the rest.

Marshalls Park: their most recent data is from 2019.3 They’ve published a subject list and grades without saying how many students sat each subject. This makes the data ambiguous. Bizarrely the Romford Recorder published a report on Marshall Park’s 2021 results even though the academy didn’t. The most successful students were female in a ratio of 9:4.

Coopers Coburn: is Havering’s Gold Standard for transparency in publishing their 2021 GCSE results.4 Their data is intelligible and unambiguous. Each subject is listed with the numbers of students and the outcome grade-by-grade.

Coopers Coburn demonstrate how the 2021 exam results should be published. They are the template and inspiration for the other 17 academies.

Conclusion

Havering’s Academiescoast’ by dodging scrutiny.5 They specialise in misinformation and fluffy generalisations. Positive and negative feedback is avoided by concealing GCSE results. Havering’s academies are excellent at bombastic drivel. Harris Academy Rainham said this 2020,We are….immensely proud of our students for the results they achieved and wish them well with the next stage of their education.”6 Needless to relate there wasn’t any data supporting this statement.

Havering’s academies are doomed to repeat the same failed teaching strategies each year as they don’t engage with the actuality of their performance. Public accountability is an essential part of the learning process that all organisations must undertake as part of constant improvement.

 

Addendum: research note

Research for this blog was done on October 10th 2021. Eleven Academy websites were reviewed and there was a consistent theme of shifty evasion about GCSE results.

Notes

1 Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and college accountability 2021/22 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

2 Achievement and Performance | Abbs Cross The academy costs £5.14 million per year Abbs Cross Academy and Arts College – Schools Financial Benchmarking – GOV.UK (schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk)

3 Subject-breakdown.pdf (marshallspark.org.uk) Surprisingly there was a press release which sort-of summarised the 2021 results GCSE Results 2021: Romford school shares students results | Romford Recorder The academy costs £6.24 million per year Marshalls Park Academy – Schools Financial Benchmarking – GOV.UK (schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk)

4 GCSE-Results-2021.pdf (cooperscoborn.org.uk) The academy costs £9.39 million per year The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School – Schools Financial Benchmarking – GOV.UK (schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk)

5 Havering and Redbridge: A Tale of Two Boroughs – Politics in Havering

6 Examinations Results (Not Current) – Harris Academy Rainham (harrisrainham.org.uk) The academy costs £6.16 million per year Harris Academy Rainham – Schools Financial Benchmarking – GOV.UK (schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk)

Langtons Gardens, Hornchurch

Langtons Gardens doesn’t have Havering Park’s magnificent redwood trees, or the broad acres of Hornchurch Country Park. Nor does it have a deer park with vistas across Havering that are so good they could be prescribed by your GP. Right in the centre of Hornchurch the gardens are the beating heart of the urban area.

 

The Georgian house in Langtons Gardens. It’s now a wedding venue

Covid-19 has taught us about the critical importance of parks. Havering is blessed. Langtons Gardens are part of Havering’s historical legacy, which is very easy to take for granted.1 The magnificent gardens are maintained at a very high level, which is essential because they are under constant pressure by thousands of visitors. The garden’s constant improvement has seen a cafe opened and public toilets.

The lake in Langtons Gardens with the Georgian house in the background

Langtons has a wonderful Georgian house and Orangery. These are picture perfect for wedding photos. The gardens include lawns, flowerbeds and a large lake. The pathways are smooth and readily accessible by everyone. There are numerous benches. After Fielders Field was opened there are more extensive walks. In the summer Fielders Field is used for cricket. Young children use the woodland adventure playground.

The woodland play area for children

Langtons Gardens are a delight and a credit to Havering Council.

Note

1 Langtons Gardens, Havering | GoParksLondon

Havering’s Ambulance Service is being ‘Reformed’

Four ambulance stations in north-east London – Romford, Ilford, Hornchurch and Becontree – have already been earmarked for closure in the first stage of the plan. They will be replaced by one new ambulance deployment centre in Romford in Havering.1

If all trusts implement the practice of the best, the scope for greater productivity is around £200 million by 2021.2

Havering’s the test bed of the reorganisation of London’s ambulance service following Lord Carter’s review. His review was embraced by the London Ambulance Service (LAS) in 20183 with ‘hubs’ the first of which will be in Romford. Lord Carter’s survey found great differences between ambulance services. He created a ‘Top Down’ package of solutions. LAS comment,

we plan to transform our estate to better serve our patients and to improve our staff and volunteers’ places of work. This will also reduce our costs and be better for the environment.” (my emphasis)

The reduction of costs is LAS’s principal motivation with anything else a bonus.

Political context matters. The government’s Levelling Up policy is led by two multi-millionaires. They’re former Hedge Fund manager Rishi Sunak (Chancellor) and former Deutsche Bank managing director Sajid Javid (Health). Both regard the NHS as Socialism. LAS savings will be sent to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the worst service in England.

The LAS over-achieves in bombastic self-regard,

In focusing on providing the best possible working environment for our staff and volunteers through these changes, we hope this will enable us to achieve our vision of being a first-class employer and a world class ambulance service for our patients across London. (my emphasis)

We’ve heard it all before and there’s a credibility gap as big as the Grand Canyon to overcome.

Notes

1 Fears over NHS plan to close all local ambulance stations in London | NHS | The Guardian

2 Lord Carter’s review of ambulance services in England Operational_productivity_and_performance_NHS_Ambulance_Trusts_final.pdf (england.nhs.uk)

Cost of the English ambulance service £1.78bn NHS Ambulance Services (nao.org.uk)

3 Our estates vision – London Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Havering Council and Religious Diversity

Romford Town ward has been reconfigured into two: St Alban’s and St Edward’s. The question is why were they given names linked to the Church of England, which is a minority sect within the Christian community? Although 65% of British people say they’re Christian, overwhelmingly they’re semi-detached.

The Church of England isn’t pre-eminent in Havering but the Council has named three wards after their churches. Historical importance can justify St Andrew’s and St Edward’s but St Alban’s?3 It’s devoid of stellar historical qualities and is anonymous.

The Council’s Diversity Policy aims at creating harmonious communities. Objective three of the policy document says they are Promoting Community Relations, diversity and Civic Pride.4 If the Council is determined to celebrate Faith in their ward names, why not chose a Roman Catholic church who have the largest congregations. Or a Baptist church or maybe, a Methodist? There’s also a non-Christian synagogue in the ward. The Council has shown a tragic lack of imagination and commitment to religious diversity.

It’s a moot point whether a secular Council should ostentatiously celebrate Faith. Most councillors are, statistically, non-believers or non-communicant Christians, which deepens the puzzle.

Which Back to the Future Conservative powered this decision through?

Notes

1 Romford Town Demographics (Havering, England) (localstats.co.uk)

2 Faith Survey | Christianity in the UK

3 The Parish of St. Alban Protomartyr – A Church Near You This church community is a minority sect being Anglo-Catholic.

4 2. 2019 – 20 Equalities Champion Annual reportv2.pdf (havering.gov.uk)

Havering’s Council Meeting: 1st September, 2021 (part two)

After the tributes to Del Smith,1 Damian White resumed orchestrated time-wasting. His Leader’s speech (26 minutes)2 outlined his achievements, which includes future Olympians. Havering’s problems are someone else’s fault but he’s resolving them. There was, amazingly, criticism of the government funding regime thrown in by accident.

Damian’s time-wasting (45) had 20 minutes of ‘reports’ by committee chairs. Nothing was said apart from Judith Holt waffling energetically.

At Question Time, (I:05) Paul Middleton attracted support as councillors barracked Damian for drivel. Osman Dervish had a number of questions and he read the answers quite well. Joshua Chapman likes statistics and Paul McGeary got a lot of them. Ray Morgon discovered Damian doesn’t understand that an uncharged service isn’t free. Many dim GCSE students make the same mistake.  Perhaps Roger Ramsey can explain? Graham Williamson asked about CCTV. He could have asked about a £5m capital programme for an uncosted project.3

Damian doesn’t like debates and the only item discussed was the loss of experienced staff. He missed Ray Morgon, Linda Hawthorne, Barry Mugglestone’s point. They were discussing a specific department and its loss of experienced staff, not the Council as a whole. Keith Darvill said the debate was a waste of time. He was wrong. For Damian the debate4 was an opportunity to not discuss lethal cladding on blocks of flats.

Game, Set and Match to Damian: the anti-scrutiny Leader.

Notes

1 Havering’s Council Meeting: 1st September, 2021 (part one) – Politics in Havering

2 Times relate to this webcast Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

3 I discuss this here Havering’s Crime and Disorder Committee, 5th August 2021 – Politics in Havering

4 Robert Benham went as far as discussing the national shortage of HGV drivers

Havering’s Council Meeting: 1st September, 2021 (part one)

The tributes to former Mayor and Councillor Del Smith dominated this Council Meeting. As usual there were eulogies.1 On this occasion they weren’t pro forma crocodile tears.

Del was Harold Hill’s outstanding councillor during the 1980s and 90s. At the meeting, six councillors knew him personally, 23 years after he left council. This demonstrates Havering’s political stability.

Roger Ramsey, Havering’s classiest councillor, began. Roger’s an outstanding speaker and looks like a nice old gentleman. He’s a ruthless political operator though. Del wrecked the Labour Administration in 1996 over a matter of principle.2 Ignoring trivialities, Roger allied the Conservatives with Del’s Socialist group to get glittering prizes. Roger also did a deal with the Residents’ Association (RA). Desmond Tutu’s Rainbow Nation3 became Havering’s Rainbow Alliance. Del was very witty.

Del created the ultimate political group. Very left-wing Socialists with Conservatives and crypto-Conservative RAs. It was hilarious. Del laughed for two years. His mastery of Havering’s politics equalled Arthur Latham4 and Roger. When Del became Mayor, Andrew Rosindell5 choked. But as Roger said, Del was a superb Mayor who orchestrated debate like a maestro.

All six eulogies were sincere and wonderful to hear for those of us who knew him. On a personal level I’ve lost a very dear friend who I mourn.

Notes

1 To watch the eulogies see Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com) From 7 minutes to 26. This includes a minutes silence.

In speaking order: Roger Ramsey, Linda Hawthorne, Ron Ower, Keith Darvill, Brian Eagling and Denis O’Flynn. Ray Morgon and Jeff Tucker spoke but didn’t know Del personally.

2 For a massive blow-by-blow account see Del’s Arthur Latham, my part in his downfall (friendsofdagnampark.org.uk) For my critique of Roger see Havering Councillor: Roger Ramsey (Emerson Park) – Politics in Havering

3 Having Conservatives and RAs in a group, with Socialists, epitomised his style. For Tutu’s Rainbow Nation see Rainbow nation – Wikipedia

4 Arthur Latham was an ex-MP and Leader of the Council. He was a restless political operator who never accepted peace and quiet. He didn’t realise that other people were also cunning.

5 Andrew took the cowardly way out of his problem. He couldn’t vote for Del – a Socialist – and he couldn’t defy Group Leader, Roger Ramsey, so he left the chamber until after the vote. This amused Del.

Havering’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, 21st July, 2021

Havering’s councillors are getting livelier. All five councillors, who were present, spoke. The energetic Darren Wise and Michael Deon Burton made five contributions each. Michael tends to be more conversational than Darren but, let’s not quibble. Darren set the Gold Standard. His first query cited a page reference (p39: appendix ‘A’ if you’re interested). There were also contributions from councillors Carole Beth and Matt Sutton along with the Chair, which is sort-of-obligatory so isn’t noteworthy. Nic Dodin was absent and I don’t think he was missed.

Item 7 was interesting. The funding of LBH’s traffic schemes turns out to be complex. There haven’t been any schemes completed since May because of funding issues with Transport for London. They in their turn can’t approve anything because the funding stream from the government has dried up. So LBH have green lighted injury reduction schemes and they can’t commence. Darren was disappointed that his pet scheme in Cambourne Avenue has failed at this funding hurdle. Interestingly no-one complained about this new wave Austerity programme which has been introduced by stealth.

There was a similar sub-text to the Rainham Creek item, Item 8. On this occasion it was the Environment Agency who haven’t coughed up. There will be a Topic Group on this issue, which will start after contractors have costed the clean up and remediation works. The wider point about flooding in the borough was touched on by the Chair, Carole, who described her personal experiences of flooding, and Darren.

Zoom continues its challenge. I don’t understand why senior officers were presenting items from home and in one case from her garden. The presentation of supporting documents was abysmal. Surely if councillors can attend in person so can officers.

Note

For the agenda see (Public Pack)Agenda Document for Environment Overview & Scrutiny Sub-Committee, 21/07/2021 19:00 (havering.gov.uk)

Havering’s RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre

Sometimes in life you work long and hard and fail. The dedicated volunteers who’ve created Havering’s RAF museum have no worries. They’ve triumphed.

RAF Hornchurch was at the epicentre of the Battle of Britain. The street names in the area memorialise their heroic deeds and two schools have been named to celebrate their victory.1 But there was no museum to gather together every facet of RAF Hornchurch.

The museum is organised around ten themes, each with their dedicated space. Because this was a labour of love, the volunteers went the extra mile to curate the collection. A stellar example was tracking down the uniforms of Wing Commander Finucane in Room 2. They were unseen and unloved in a professional museum until they were rescued and given a prominent display cabinet.

Room 5 tells the story of Sanders Draper who heroically saved hundreds of children’s lives by sacrificing his own when his Spitfire had catastrophic engine failure. As of September 2021, the local academy will revert to his name after the dismal decision to delete it a few years ago.

Room 6, The Home Front Room is richly evocative and filled with the everyday aspects of civilian lives. There are memoirs, with photographs, which cumulatively add up to a rare and wonderful insight into what that generation had to put with.

I spent about an hour in the museum but feel I only touched the surface. The volunteer guides are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

There’s a small car park and an entry fee of £5. If you sense that you’ll be returning, and I will, then the £20 annual membership fee is a bargain. The museum is staffed by volunteers and is open each Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. till 4 p.m.

Note

1 R J Mitchell Junior School and the Sanders Draper Academy

Havering’s Crime and Disorder Committee, 5th August 2021

Take a bow councillors Sally Miller, John Tyler, Philippa Crowder and Michael Deon Burton. They made the Overview and Scrutiny system work.1 Interestingly they were present in the chamber unlike silent Zoom councillors.

Item 5 was an update on a £5 million CCTV capital programme. John Tyler, supported by the chair, Sally Miller, expressed his incredulity. They were outraged by incompetent decision-making, which authorised a £5 million expenditure, without detailed costs. This is ‘wish and a prayer’ procurement. The incompetent culprits are Councillors Viddy Persaud and Roger Ramsey who are, respectively, Public Safety and Finance cabinet members.

The principal officer struggled to defend this fiasco. Heroically she said the £5 million budget couldn’t be exceeded. She acknowledged a Chinese factory fire had created a world-wide shortage of microchips, but, no worries, other suppliers would fill the gap. This left the programme in tatters, as Tyler noted.

She thought that about 350 cameras were needed but it might fewer. The number was being driven by costs. Deon Burton said Havering needed mobile units to combat fly-tipping. He also asked about competitive tendering. This was an unintentional trick question because local authority CCTV is a quasi-monopoly. Consultant fees were questioned but the committee were hurried past as they are an unmentionable cost.

The chair is dubious about the £5 million. Perhaps Councillors Persaud and Ramsey could explain why they authorised a £5 million expenditure without any detailed costs to the committee?2 £5 million? Why not £4 million? Whether it’s value-for-money at all wasn’t asked.

Notes

1 For the webcast go to Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com) This section begins at 20 minutes for about 20 minutes

2 No cabinet member has ever appeared before an Overview and Scrutiny committee to be questioned about their policy decision-making. So this would be a significant event.

Havering and the East London Waste Authority

Bin collections and politics are strangely linked in the East London Waste Authority (ELWA). ELWA is a four borough group.1 The bin and ‘paid-for’ green waste collection is faultless but that’s where excellence ends.

Recycling

Recycling is organised as a weekly orange sack and bin collection. There are also bottle banks, to which you have to travel and Gerpins Lane for bigger items. ELWA’s recycling statistics are ghastly with them coming 327th out of of 341 local authorities.2 This seemed unbelievable so I researched it. Havering is cemented into ELWA with three albatrosses.

Havering accounts for 52.2% of ELWA’s total.3

 

Financial Engineering

ELWA’s financial officers produced a huge, impenetrable document for the councillors. The officers engineered a short-term ‘solution’ to meet the challenges that the local authorities are under. Unfortunately it’s very expensive. “This report proposes a decrease of 29.52% in the 2021/22 levy, which is significantly lower than the 4.59% forecast increase reported in February 2020.”4 That’s a 34.11% decrease on the budgeted levy. “The consequence of the one-off significant decrease in 2021/22 is an increase in the following year of 51.72%. These movements equate to an increase over the two-year period from 2020/21 to 2022/23 of 6.93%.4 Reducing budget pressure looks like a great idea but, “this could provoke a referendum on Council Tax…”5 A referendum would be politically embarrassing and hugely expensive.

Needless to relate they ignored this severe warning and agreed to the 29.52% decrease. ELWA is a political organisation run by councillors who don’t know what they’re doing.6

Notes

1 Havering with Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Redbridge. Osman Dervish and Robert Benham are Havering’s nominees.

2 2019/20 overall performance – letsrecycle.com ELWA comes 327th out of 341

3 08.02.2021-ELWA-Authority-Agenda-Pack-Public.pdf (eastlondonwaste.gov.uk) p165

4 ibid p100

5 ibid p110

6 Despite the well flagged challenges councillors agreed this action Authority-Agenda-Pack-25.06.21-FINAL-open.pdf (eastlondonwaste.gov.uk) Minutes pp9-10