Havering’s Timid Councillors

Councillors should make their home address publicly available on the Register of Interests.1 Get-out clauses to this are laid out in government advice (see Addendum). Many of Havering’s councillors don’t make their addresses public and six haven’t made a meaningful response. The six might not live in the borough, who knows? 27 councillors concealed their addresses. Why?

Some councillors are fearful “because they believe the process [making addresses available] risks their safety or makes them vulnerable to abusive activity.” Can this be true? Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor, is subject to intense media attention, which often provokes threats to his safety. His Register of Interests statement deletes his home address, which is understandable. But a Havering councillor?

The fear argument falls immediately for councillors who share wards with co-councillors who do provide home addresses. Veteran councillors, from the 1990s, will remember that addresses and home phone numbers2 were published. Tiresome calls happened but not enough to claim that ‘violence or intimidation’ might ensue.

The notion that addresses are ‘private’ or can be ‘concealed’ is naive. Life in 2022 means living in the Surveillance Society. A malicious person can find an address easily on the internet. Do we want Havering’s councillors to be timid and naïve?

Addendum: Government advice to councillors on publicising their address

The Government wishes to avoid capable individuals being deterred from standing for office because they believe the process risks their safety or makes them vulnerable to abusive activity….The changes made mean that now all candidates in local government elections in England will be able to request that their home address is not made public. Candidates will have a choice – they can continue to include a home address if they wish to highlight their local connection to their ward. (my emphasis)

Source Letter to local authorities about the publication of councillors’ and candidates’ home addresses: March 2019 (publishing.service.gov.uk)

This builds on the Localism Act which spoke of ‘violence or intimidation’ as the principal criteria for concealing addresses. Localism Act 2011 (legislation.gov.uk)

Notes

1 Research done on 24th July, 2022 using Havering’s Register of Interests. This one is for Robert Benham. He wasn’t ‘chosen’ he’s the first councillor on the list mgConvert2PDF.aspx (havering.gov.uk) For Sadiq Khan see Sadiq Khan – Register of interests | London City Hall

2 Veteran councillors from the 1990s are Brian Eagling, Linda Hawthorn, Keith Prince, Michael White and Reg Whitney. This was prior to mobile phones

Havering’s Elections and the Budget, 2022-23

In the good-old-days voters knew where they stood. Conservatives were heartless; Labour were warm-hearted; Resident Associations (RA) loved pavements. Happy days!

Rishi Sunak’s Stately Home in Yorkshire: Council Tax Band H

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, set Havering’s Council Tax at 3%. He imposed the principal budget item, Adult Social Care, without funding it. This budget is demand led so no-one knows how much it will eventually cost. Councillors do know Havering has the oldest population in London and dozens of Care Homes. Central government has imposed Stealth Taxes on Havering for 12 years.

A £150 million budget1 was nodded through with passionate debate about £70,000 ‘savings’ from Councillors Allowances. This would be allocated to street cleaning. An RA policy!

The 3% Council Tax increase is inadequate. Inflation is 7% rising to 10% by December. The in-coming Administration will have to make some grim decisions in October.

Council officers wrote an analysis of ‘risk’ factors for the budget.2 Item C4 refers to business rates losses, “it is hoped that the Government will fully recognise this in future settlements”.  Interest rates have increased twice in three months. C8 says, “An increase in interest rates will have a direct impact on the Council’s treasury strategy.”  Each 1% increase equals £1 million of additional expenditure. C19 notes a potential loss of “several million pounds” and C22 says government alteration in charging for ‘Green Waste’ will cost £800,000.

The Administration’s 400 job losses will save £7 million.3 They are, “Staffing Reductions Through Efficiency”.  Achieved by removing, “activities that do not benefit residents.” Technology [has] “moved on significantly… [and] efficiencies through modernising work processes and improving service offers to our customers and partners.” A budget based on a ‘wish and prayer’.

Jeff Tucker declared he hadn’t read the budget before speaking for 25 minutes. But it was Rishi Sunak’s Stealth Taxes which needed discussing and he wasn’t present.4 So perhaps Jeff got it right.

Notes

1 Issue – items at meetings – 2022/23 Budget and 2022-2026 Medium Term Financial Strategy | The London Borough Of Havering

2 Microsoft Word – Appendix D – Risk Register (003) (havering.gov.uk)

3 Appendix A Budget Savings.pdf (havering.gov.uk)

4 Havering Council Tax Meeting, 2nd March 2022 – Politics in Havering

Havering and Redbridge’s Disadvantaged Secondary Students

‘Closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers is the greatest challenge facing English schools. The gap is stubborn because its causes are entrenched and complex, and most lie beyond the control of schools and educators. However, it is clear that schools can make a difference.1

Havering and Redbridge have 18 secondary schools each. Redbridge’s disadvantaged students do markedly better than those in Havering (see Addendum).

Schools receive additional funding through the Pupil Premium (PP) to try to alleviate the challenges disadvantaged students face. PP funding is a flat rate for eligible students.

Marshalls Park, Havering, PP £232,245

The most recent examination results were published in 2019. The academy said their students achieved “…amazing results, some of the best the school has ever had.”    Their disadvantaged students achieved a catastrophic success rate of 18% at GCSE grade 5+ English and Mathematics.

Chadwell Heath, Redbridge, PP £241,230

They said, “This year [2019] our pupils have produced our best ever set of examination results.” Their disadvantaged students achieved 44% grade 5+ English and Mathematics. Chadwell Heath really has ‘Levelled-up’ giving their students a platform for ‘A’ levels post-16.

Discussion

The introductory quote neatly summarises the challenges presented by disadvantaged students. Marshalls Park focuses on, “The [attainment] gap is stubborn because its causes are entrenched and complex, and most lie beyond the control of schools and educators.”  In brief, school leaders work on the theory that the attainment gap is intractable, whereas Chadwell Heath has taken heart from, “However, it is clear that schools can make a difference,” and plan accordingly.

These two sentences sum up senior management responses. Schools which undervalue disadvantaged students hamper their achievement. This is revealed in the GCSE results for the two schools. Disadvantaged students are challenging but PP funding aids skillful management offering an empathetic response. It’s clear that schools that meet the challenge are rewarded with higher achievement for every student.4

Addendum

 

Notes

1 PP-Strategy-and-Costs-Reviewed-2020-21.odt (live.com)

2 Exam Results | Marshalls Park Academy  Marshalls Park Academy  for government statistics see- GOV.UK – Find and compare schools in England (compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk) For a general look at the way that Havering schools are mediocre see Havering’s Academy Schools: Councillor Robert Benham’s Dilemma – Politics in Havering

3 Chadwell Heath Academy – Exam results (chadwellacademy.org.uk)

4 Chadwell Heath’s students at grade 5+ English and Mathematics achieved 61%: Marshalls Park 46%.

South Hornchurch Ward: Utter Chaos

South Hornchurch is Havering’s political disaster zone. It’s a Residents’ Association (RA) stronghold which has imploded.

Michael Deon Burton fell out with the RAs and was re-elected as an Independent. 48 hours after being elected he became a Conservative. As Conservatives are toxic in South Hornchurch this was Damian White’s only route into the ward. Michael is an important part of Damian’s coalition. Damian’s Conservatives failed to get a majority and he had to win over those who were susceptible to his charms.

The re-drawing of Havering’s ward boundaries reduced South Hornchurch to two seats from three. Easy-peasy you might think. As there are only two RA councillors left, they carry on. Unfortunately life since 2018 has been unkind. Michael is awaiting trial for harassing RA Natasha Summers1,2 and as a renegade he’s unlikely to be elected. She hasn’t enjoyed being a councillor and might not stand.

The elderly, but feisty, Graham Williamson3 is the last RA standing. The self-inflicted damage the RAs have suffered will help Labour’s Julia Offord Pearman and Adeel Akhtar. Unlike Graham they live in the ward. Ironically this used to be the RAs selling point. Labour is campaigning. This is a skill complacent RAs forgot long ago. Campaigning can make a difference even in safe seats.

2022 is throwing up interesting contests but, as always, democracy is about who turns up to vote.

Notes

1 Havering Council Conservative denies harassment at court | Romford Recorder

2 See my blog Havering Councillor: Natasha Summers (South Hornchurch) – Politics in Havering

3 Graham features in Wikipedia Graham Williamson – Wikipedia

Havering’s Secondary Academies and their Disadvantaged Students

Research:

The key metric is the Gold Standard of GCSE Grade 5+ English and Mathematics. For England, non-disadvantaged students’ outcome is 50%. Havering out-performs England by a significant 5 percentage points.

The 2019 statistics are from the government website1 (see Addendum). The benchmark is 50%.

PP = Pupil Premium this is additional funding for closing the attainment gap of disadvantaged students. A higher figure indicates a greater number of disadvantaged students in the school as it’s a per capita payment. Total PP funding for Havering’s secondary academies is £3,578,103

Coopers Coburn

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 57% PP £87,450

Sacred Heart of Mary

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 55% PP £137,889

Francis Bardsley

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 44% PP £216,440

St Edwards

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 37% PP £188,182

They tacitly blame their students by saying that “33%  [of] St Edward’s students live in Barking and Dagenham (ranked fifth most deprived local authority in England).

See Pupil-Premium-Report-2020-2021-md.pdf (steds.org.uk)

Royal Liberty

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 36% PP £143,250

Harris Academy Rainham

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 35% PP £230,000 (approximately)

They arrogantly don’t give an accurate figure for their PP funding.

Abbs Cross

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 34% PP £153,340

Emerson Park

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 31% PP £218,005

Bower Park

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 29% PP £275,995

Brittons

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 29% PP £265,985

Gaynes2

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 29% PP £69,100

Hall Mead

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 28% PP £166,309

Drapers

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 23% PP £384,640

Campion

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 21% PP £67,675

Redden Court3

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 21%1 PP £157,685

A significant proportion of students at Redden Court School (c.25%) are disadvantaged. We never use this as an excuse; rather, it adds to our moral purpose. Our school motto is: ‘Committed to Success for All’; this is something we strongly believe in – we are, therefore, committed to the success of all our disadvantaged students.”

Pupil Premium Strategy 2020/21 – Google Docs

Marshalls Park

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 18% PP £232,245

Hornchurch High2

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 17% PP £367,218

Sanders Drapers

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 7% PP £216,785

Discussion

As both the 2020 and 2021 GCSE examinations are unnoticed on government, and usually, school websites, drawing conclusions is tricky. For example there’s a new management team at Sanders Draper Academy and schools aren’t static places. Nonetheless some broad brush statements can be made.

Correlation is poor between PP funding and outcomes. St Edwards is 10th in Havering’s PP funding rankings but 4th in outcomes for disadvantaged students. Meanwhile Marshalls Park is 5th in PP funding and 15th in outcomes.

Three average schools in Havering at co-equal 9th

Bower Park’s 2018 OFSTED inspection rated the school as ‘Good’ in Bower Park’s case a third of disadvantaged students (49/147) are discounted as their outcomes are less than good.

Brittons 2019 examination results show that 30% of their cohort achieved the Gold Standard, which is virtually identical to those of disadvantaged students. So they are below the borough average for non-disadvantaged students but average for disadvantaged students.

Gaynes has a solid performance of 60% in English and Mathematics for the school5 but that isn’t translated to disadvantaged students. Their statistics are affected by the small numbers in the cohort where a single student can be disproportionate.

Addendum: Covid-19 and GCSE results

Both the 2020 and 2021 GCSE examinations were teacher assessed. It’s immediately apparent that those results aren’t used in a customary way. The government website doesn’t use them and most schools publish a summary. Why? Are these GCSE results problematic? Are they fatally flawed and a pale imitation of the real thing? This places a constraint on understanding current, 2021, outcomes for disadvantaged students.

Notes

1 GOV.UK – Find and compare schools in England (compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk)

2 These blogs were written some time ago and it was at that point I decided to review every secondary school in Havering. Gaynes School Gaynes School, the Pupil Premium and Accountability – Politics in Havering and Hornchurch High School Hornchurch High School, the Pupil Premium and Accountability – Politics in Havering

3 Ofsted: Redden Court School could be ‘outstanding’ | Romford Recorder

4 2771545 (ofsted.gov.uk) Bower Park is at Havering’s average along with Brittons and Gaynes at joint 9th out of 18.

5 All schools and colleges in Havering – GOV.UK – Find and compare schools in England (compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk) See also Achievement and Performance – Gaynes School

Havering Council Meeting: 17th November, 2021

Havering’s councillors love eulogies. Nothing deters them. David Amess, the murdered Southend MP, brought Ron Ower to his feet. Ron lived near Amess in Forest Gate as a boy and councillors were pleased to hear about that. Eulogies are supposed to celebrate the deceased, not provide a platform for ego massage.1 They should be given a maximum of 10 minutes to stop time-wasting.

The Climate Change Emergency was the principal item of business. The Council’s plan is huge and lacks detail. It emerged on 10th November and Ray Morgon and Keith Darvill said it needed scrutiny. It didn’t get it and was brought to Council seven days later. Thirteen minutes of argy-bargy ensued. Bizarrely, this means scrutiny will happen after agreement.

Councillors in speaking order:2

Joshua Chapman (44 mins) remarked Climate Change meant “an organisational and cultural change” for the entire Council.

Jeff Tucker (50) said the plan was basically a directive from Boris Johnson, aka ‘The Big Boss’.

Keith Darvill (56) reviewed his previous objections in a telling way.

Viddy Persaud (59) likes the way officers work hard.

Robert Benham (1:01) sold his Jaguar so the Emergency is virtually over.

Ray Morgon (1:03) described the Plan as a ‘massive wish list’, uncosted and ‘all talk’.

Stephanie Nunn (1:07) was scathing, describing it as ‘uncosted’ and ‘rubbish’.

Roger Ramsey (1:08) claimed ‘existing budgets’ would take the strain. He had a straight face proving what an old pro he is.

Michael Deon Burton (1:11) said opposition members were petty for objecting.

Dilip Patel (1:14) wants to spend a lot of money for the future of children.

Barry Mugglestone (1:16) said they hadn’t got the basics right

Chris Wilkins (1:17) said the 2019 report had been ignored.

Jeff Tucker (1:18) spoke movingly about out-of-order lights in Rainham churchyard.

Damian White (1:23) was in combative mode. He claimed councillors hadn’t read the report and the oft quoted £500,000 cost didn’t exist. Surprisingly he added it might cost £10 million. He said Overview and Scrutiny committees were hopeless and never produced anything for the Cabinet to discuss. He’s becoming a class act.

Keith Darvill, Ray Morgon and Damian White should have a round table discussion and get on with substantive decision-making. The drivel that punctuated this debate demonstrates that leadership is called for. Amazingly, Michael Deon Burton was quite right. There is too much pettiness and this matter is too important for that.

Notes

1 The finest recent example of a eulogy was by Roger Ramsey about Del Smith. Havering’s Council Meeting: 1st September, 2021 (part one) – Politics in Havering

2 For the webcast go to Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com) All the times relate to this source

Damian White and Havering’s Pandemic

Havering was ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, which killed nearly a thousand people and hospitalised thousands more. The Health and Wellbeing Board is the forum for discussing such things calmly with experts. There were three meetings of the Board, at the height of the pandemic, between January and March 2021. The Board has four senior councillors, and health professionals.1 Damian White, Leader of the Council, his deputy Robert Benham, Jason Frost, chair of the Board and Nisha Patel are the four councillors.

There are monthly meetings, so information is always up-to-date. Reading the minutes of the Board is interesting.

Damian loves publicity. Whilst Havering was being ravaged, he appeared on TV on numerous occasions. He presented Havering’s response well and convincingly. He’s also done dozens of Leaders’ blogs during the period, which were informative and helpful. But was it sincere or just a PR exercise, flashy without substance?

The three meetings of the Health and Wellbeing Board were attended by everyone except Damian.2 He attended none of them. So what’s going on?

If there’s a plausible explanation for this dereliction of duty, I look forward to hearing it.

Notes

1 Minutes Template (havering.gov.uk) This Board is very high powered and includes Havering’s CEO who hasn’t missed a meeting.

2 On the 24th February 2021 he didn’t even offer apologies for absence.

Gaynes School, the Pupil Premium and Accountability

It is for schools to decide how the Pupil Premium, allocated to schools per FSM* student, is spent… for the individual pupils within their responsibility.” Government statement (my emphasis)

The challenge to establish a clear link between educational expenditure and pupils’ learning is harder than one would imagine. It may seem obvious that more money offers the possibilities for a better or higher quality educational experience, but the evidence suggests that it is not simply a question of spending more to get better results.”* Gaynes statement (my emphasis)

Gaynes School received £69,190 of Pupil Premium (PP) funding in 2020-21. PP funding demands acceptance of the government’s criteria of accountability. The government’s criteria are clear, unequivocal and entirely reasonable (Addendum one). Gaynes fails to be clear or precise in this important duty.

Gaynes response to disadvantaged children is providing,

Additional Educational Resources for Looked After Children – allocated £1,800

Strategy: For 2019-20, each looked after child has a Personalised Educational Plan drawn up by our specialist worker in conjunction with the local authority to ensure that each student receives resources and support which would be appropriate for them as an individual.”

£1,800 is about £29 per disadvantaged child (2.6% of PP funding). The other £67,390 is invisible. (Addendum two) Gaynes says money doesn’t guarantee ‘better results’. Nonetheless PP funding should be analysed for effectiveness. PP funding is targeted and schools, are best placed to assess what additional provision should be made for…individual pupils…” (my emphasis). With freedom comes responsibility.

Accountability isn’t a threat, it’s a diagnostic tool identifying successes and failures. PP funding is for the most vulnerable children in the country and the government is entitled to know that its ambitions are being fulfilled. Why doesn’t Gaynes meet its obligations?

Addendum one: Government guidance for publicising the Pupil Premium on school websites says it should include –

1) a summary of the main barriers to educational achievement faced by eligible pupils of the school

2) how the pupil premium allocation is to be spent to address those barriers and the reasons for that approach

3) how the school is to measure the impact and effect of its expenditure of the pupil premium allocation. What academies, free schools and colleges should publish online – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Addendum two: Statement of accounts for Pupil Premium

The Regional Schools Commission tell me that there is a full statement from Gaynes School. It’s in a side bar and is labelled ‘draft’. As a consequence I ignored it thinking that it wasn’t substantive. The link that I was provided with is this, Pupil-Premium-Reports-and-Strategy.pdf (gaynesschool.net)

Quite why the statement of accounts for Pupil Premium is separated into two sections with one labelled ‘draft’ is beyond me but nonetheless that’s as it is.

Notes

* Pupil Premium | Gaynes School All quotes are from this document.

** See Young carers (youngminds.org.uk)

Sources

Gaynes school PP statement Pupil Premium | Gaynes School

Loxford school PP statement Pupil Premium | Loxford

Hornchurch High School, the Pupil Premium and Accountability

Government guidance for publicising the Pupil Premium on school websites says it should include –

1) a summary of the main barriers to educational achievement faced by eligible pupils of the school

2) how the pupil premium allocation is to be spent to address those barriers and the reasons for that approach

3) how the school is to measure the impact and effect of its expenditure of the pupil premium allocation.*

Hornchurch High received £367,218 Pupil Premium funding (PP), 2020-21, which it spent as it chose. The government does however stipulate accountability procedures. (see above)Hornchurch High’s accountability is a travesty.

Hornchurch High allocates 33% of PP funding to Child Protection. Let’s imagine they’ve identified Child Protection as the main method of overcoming “barriers to educational achievement,” and PP finance is “…spent to address those barriers…” Why wouldn’t they publicise the ”…impact and effect of its expenditure…”? When a third of the PP budget is allocated to a single activity, there should be a compelling reason to justify it. The explanation for the expenditure of the PP funding which remains is equally opaque.**

The attainment gap of disadvantaged children is a scandal which PP funding is intended to close. It’s impossible to know if Hornchurch High is fulfilling its obligations. Another Havering school, Drapers Academy (£384,640 PP), is a model of clarity. Why not use it as a template? Accountability isn’t rocket science.

Addendum: The Partnership Learning trust

They’re part of Partnership Learning academy trust which includes Sydney Russell school, Dagenham (£647,882 pa PP). The two schools have a million+ pounds PP funding of potential synergies. Two schools in the same academy trust and facing the similar issues ought to generate significant expertise.

Notes

* What academies, free schools and colleges should publish online – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

** £26,028 for additional English support and £6,000 for additional teaching hours are self explanatory.

Sources

For Hornchurch High school PP see Hornchurch High School » PUPIL PREMIUM

For Sydney Russell school’s PP see Welcome to Sydney Russell School. (follow links for PP)

For Drapers Academy PP statement see Pupil-Premium-Report-2017-2018-v20.pdf (drapersacademy.com)

Marshalls Park Academy: a Critique

Introduction

Marshalls Park is an average academy in Havering,* which is why it was chosen for this critique. This is intended to be constructive criticism, contributing towards a reorientation from the merely peripheral to substantive educational issues.

Discussion

On the academy’s website, the Headteacher in his 18th September, 2020 blog remarks that, “….it’s that schools are under constantly [sic] scrutiny by the whole community and that just magnifies the pressure.”** It isn’t “community….pressure” calling for transparency about GCSE results, it’s a perfectly normal expectation. The presentation of the 2019 GCSE results was opaque. Let’s take the top line:-

Subject ……………….9-4…………….9-5……………..9-7

English Language 68.26%……….52.10%……….7.19%

There’s no explanatory note explaining grade boundaries. Grade 9 is an outstanding result. Grade 4 is a bare ‘pass’ with a three grades beneath them: Grades 1-3. The results don’t show the 31.74% of the 2019 cohort sitting English Language who achieved grades 1-3. It’s as if a third of the school is invisible and unwelcome because they’ve failed the school. The students might say that they have been failed by the school of course.

The Headteacher sings from a different hymn sheet. His 2nd October, 2020 blog focuses on the new Barnes building. The site manager is warmly praised despite the building being delivered late. Astonishingly, the teaching staff’s unique role in 2020 is ignored, as is the implementation of a new system of teaching and learning. The staff’s stellar efforts maintaining progress through the lockdown is taken for granted.

A Headteacher’s blogs are an important mechanism for setting the tone of an academy. The priorities embedded within blogs guide the expectations of the reader. Both of this term’s blogs are unfortunate. They go a long way towards showing why there’s systemic weakness in Havering’s academies. Only sharply focused senior management teams, who aren’t in denial about their GCSE results, will break out of mediocrity. Parents and the wider community are entitled to know in detail the outcomes of GCSE results. They should not be concealed or underplayed on school websites.

Notes

* See https://havering.blog/2019/11/29/havering-and-redbridge-a-tale-of-two-boroughs/

** http://marshallspark.org.uk/2020/09/18/joy/

*** See my https://havering.blog/2020/07/04/haverings-2020-gcse-results-part-one/ The government changed their position on GCSE results when they fully appreciated that grades were being awarded on the historic outcomes of the school not the individual student. There were massive disparities between teacher assessments and the standardisation principles embedded in the original documents. See also https://havering.blog/2020/07/11/haverings-2020-gcse-results-part-two/

Source

The GCSE results for 2019 at Marshalls Park academy. As of 6th October 2020 these 2019 results were still being described as ‘provisional’ fourteen months after being announced.They missed the announced date of April 2020 by six months.http://marshallspark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Subject-breakdown.pdf

For other key metrics 2017-8 see https://www.bing.com/search?q=marshalls+park+academy&form=ANNTH1&refig=db21274807a54e57bb9bfa2d7497fecf&sp=1&qs=HS&pq=ma&sk=PRES1&sc=8-2&cvid=db21274807a54e57bb9bfa2d7497fecf These statistics are the most recent published.