Building Schools for the Future was part of Brent’s future cultural strategy – From Lib Dem Leader Paul Lorber!

The Cultural Strategy for 2010 – 2015 which was signed off by the previous Lib Dem leader of Brent Council Paul Lorber very much incorporated the costed and Treasury approved Building Schools for the Future programme as part of the Borough’s Cultural strategy.

The document signed off by Brent Liberal Democrat leader Paul Lorber states “Building Schools for the Future is one such funding stream which provides an opportunity for co-location of cultural facilities, provision of new exhibition and performance spaces and public art within the design of schools.”

Now that the Liberal Democrats in Government have scrapped the programme, the Brent Liberal Demorcats have changed their tune on the issue. I have blogged on this before here  – LINK

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Ed Balls is Labour’s new Shadow Chancellor

Ed Balls being interviewed by Michael Crick fo...
WikiImage

The Lib Dems have instantly attacked the appointment of Ed Balls as Labour’s new Shadow Chancellor (LINK). Come on guys…  show a bit of courtesy and at least congratulate or welcome the appointment. The Lib Dems know no meaning of the word respect. They are quaking in their boots at the prospect of Ed Balls having such a high profile role.

After all, these links show how effective Ed Balls is at providing scrutiny to the Coalition Government.

LINK – Ed Balls highlights hypocrisy from Sarah Teather

LINK- Ed Balls uncovers Sarah Teather’s lies on Building Schools for the Future

I’ve met Ed quite a few times and voted for him as my first preference for the Labour Leadership elections in 2010. I think he will do a splendid job at holding the economic measures from this Coalition Government to account.

I’d like to wish Alan Johnson all the best in dealing with the personal problems that led to his resignation.

Cutting too far too fast threatens economic recovery: SPEED KILLS!!!

IMMIDIATE BRENT COUNCIL LABOUR GROUP RESPONSE:

The Labour Deputy Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Muhammed Butt has warned that the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review will lead to acute hardship for local people and will threaten economic recovery.

Economic growth is at best anaemic, mortgage lending is at a ten low year and long term unemployment is rising. In the Brent Central constituency alone, male unemployment is already at 8.2%. School building and play builder programmes have been slashed, which will hit the construction industry – the engine of economic recovery – as well as a generation of school students; welfare benefits have been cut.

Local authority spending is to be cut by more than 25%, which will impact on poorer and more vulnerable sections of the community who most depend on public services. Tuition fees are set to more than double making it impossible for young people from working class and middle income families to get a degree. Meanwhile, the bankers who caused the crisis will continue to receive obscene bonuses.

Deputy Leader of Brent Council, Muhammed Butt said:

“Everyone agrees that the deficit needs to be reduced but it is a question of how quickly that is done. Before the election the Liberal Democrats agreed with us that cutting too fast too soon would damage the recovery – that speed kills. They changed their mind as soon as they were offered ministerial limousines. The government makes the analogy with credit card debt but a more appropriate analogy is with mortgages. What rational person would go without food in order to pay off their mortgage within five years? The truth is that these cuts are driven by the Tories’ secret agenda to destroy the welfare state, something they have always wanted to do and the Liberal Democrats are their partners in crime”.

Raising children is expensive: The Lib Dem / Tory approach to child benefits fails to acknowledge this

Earlier this year, the Independent highlighted that it costs on average £201,000 to raise a child in Britain today. Parenting has changed, with many taking more responsibility for their children in many cases, up to and beyond 21 years of age. Helping them to progress through education, in some cases University, giving them a foot up onto the housing ladder; it’s all very costly and now an inevitable part of modern day parenting.

Universal child benefit acknowledges and recognises that it is expensive to raise children in Britain today. Scrapping the Building Schools for the Future programme, halting Playbuilder schemes and freezing child benefits are just a few of the ways in which families have been bearing the brunt of the coalition cuts.

We now see Sarah Teather and her Tory pals going further and removing child benefit from some parents. Yes, it may be the case that those on higher incomes may be able to afford raising a child without need for help from benefits. But is it fair that this move now makes some parents with children worse off than wealthy people who do not have children?

The devil is in the detail of this Tory and Lib Dem policy. The benefit removal as proposed would leave households where a only one parent works and earns over £44,000 worse off and would leave parent households with combined incomes of up to £88,000 unaffected, so long as one of them is not earning over £44,000.

That’s the problem with the Government’s proposals as they stand at the moment. It’s always those who are on the fine line, who could do with that extra bit of help, who end up losing out. That is why I am in favour of keeping the universal based approach.

But, although many may agree with the principle of the Con Dem approach, the detail is ill thought out and would be unfair on middle income families. What would be a fairer approach to take is to have higher taxation on all higher income level earners, and not just penalise those who have children. Government should recognise the important role of parenting and acknowledge that bringing up children is expensive. The Lib Dem and Tory approach fails to acknowledge this.

Sarah Teather’s Education proposals Con-Demned by her own Lib Dem Party members

The Liberal Democrats today gave their overwhelming backing to a campaign against the expansion of Sarah Teather’s Education policy on school academies and have called for a boycott of free schools in the strongest public show of concern by rank and file activists over the party’s role in Coalition Government. They called on all Lib Dems to actively “urge people not to take up the option” of creating the “free” schools championed by Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove and Brent Central MP and Education Minister Sarah Teather.

Teather branded it an “illiberal boycott” and according to the BBC, Teather pleaded to delegates “Don’t vote for a boycott, don’t tie councils’ hands.” However, Former Lib Dem MP Dr Evan Harris argued that it was not illiberal for Lib Dems to be allowed to campaign on issues they felt strongly about.”We must be free to fight the Tories at a local level up and down the country,” he said.

While Sarah Teather pleaded with members of her party to vote against the motion, her Department’s policy was ConDemned for treating pupils like tins of beans.

According to the Guardian, Lib Dem Councillor Peter Downes, who moved the motion said, “Just as the supermarket drives the corner shop out of business, so it will be with schools. When Sainsbury’s provides some new products to lure people away from their competitors, the unsold items in the failing shops can be returned to the wholesaler or sold off in a sale. But not so in schools. Pupils are human beings, not tins of beans.”

What the motion said:

F23. Free Schools and Academies

In relation to ‘free schools’, conference calls on all Liberal Democrats to urge people not to take up this option because it risks:

1.       Creating surplus places which is prejudicial to the efficient use of resources in an age of austerity.

2.       Increasing social divisiveness and inequity into a system which is already unfair because of the multiple tiers and types of schools created by successive Conservative and Labour governments and thus abandoning our key goal of a high quality education system for all learners.

3.       Depressing educational outcomes for pupils in general.

4.       Increasing the existing complexity of school admissions and exclusions.

5.       Putting at risk advances made in making appropriate provision for children with special needs.

6.       Putting in jeopardy the programme of improving school buildings.

7.       Wasting precious resources, both human and material, at a time when all efforts should be focused on improving educational outcomes by enabling effective teaching and learning to take place in good local schools accessible to all.

Point 6 is particularly interesting as it indicates that Lib Dem members want to ditch the ‘Free Schools’ policy and revert back to a scheme similar to Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme.

However, Sarah Teather responded “I will take into account what they say but it is not going to change government policy, because Government policy is formed by Government ministers,” Potentially rendering the whole episode entirely useless in terms of delivering change.

Meanwhile, out on the doorstep, resentment was strife among residents who had voted for Sarah Teather in May 2010. A former Labour supporter who voted for Teather said “I’m quite distraught because what I voted for was totally the opposite to what I got. I didn’t vote for a Tory Government basically and I will definitely be voting Labour next time.”

I imagine many who voted for a Lib Dem MP across the country will be doing the same.

Hidden Grant Cuts

When Yvette Cooper said that women would bear the brunt of the cuts, I disagreed and still do. I think that the real losers are children and young people who have been quite frankly targeted by this Coalition Government.

The obvious cuts that reflect this is the Building Schools for the Future cut and the Future Jobs Fund, which was designed to support young people into employment.

However, the most alarming element of the cuts to our schools is in the detail. The small hidden grants. This includes help for things such as teenage pregnancy, advice for children and families, debt advice, all being cut grant by grant as highlighted by Councillor Mary Arnold in the Willesden and Brent Times this week.

Would young people be targeted as much if they were able to vote?

Con Dem government signals shift from ‘Free Schools’ policy, back to BSF-esque programme.

Sarah Teather has in the Willesden and Brent Times pledged that schools will be able to reapply for a new school building with an announcement expected towards the end of the year.

Source: Guardian

The announcement signals a logical realisation that the Labour Party’s Building Schools for the Future programme was the correct route to follow with regards to Education policy. After a poor take up of schools going down the Teather and Gove ‘Free Schools’ route, the money that was there for the BSF scheme, as shown in this letter from Sarah Teather’s permanent secretary at the Education Department (LINK), which hasn’t been taken up by ‘free schools’, is available again for new school buildings.

In the meantime, the embarrassing U-turn dithering and realisation of this, will affect children in Brent now and in the immediate future.

Have just been reading Sarah Teather’s take on the Building Schools for the Future Programme in the Willesden and Brent Times….

Whoa whoa whoa… let me get this right… Sarah Teather blames the poor state of our school buildings in Brent on the Labour Party’s Building Schools for the Future Scheme? A scheme that would have provided better school buildings and rapidly expanded the amount of children that we could accommodate in our schools.

Her logic totally defies all notions of the phrase common sense – a scheme that would’ve brought more school places to our children that was scrapped by her Government is to blame for the shortage for school places we face in Brent.

Yes, pure political point scoring from Brent Central MP whilst children in the Borough inevitably suffer. In addition, Teather has announced that there will be a new fund available that schools in Brent will be able to apply for, with an announcement due towards the end of the year. This signals a move back to Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme. Except naturally, the Coalition Government will just call it something else so that they can take the credit for it as their own scheme.

In the meantime, the scale of the problem in our school buildings is highlighted by a recent incident at the Copland School where a light fell from the ceiling and hit a child. The delay in reverting back to Labour’s BSF programme is inevitably affecting children now.

EXCLUSIVE: BRENT LABOUR LOBBYING WINS CREST REPRIEVE

The Crest Academies (formerly John Kelly schools) to be excluded from school building cuts

The Liberal Democrat and Conservative government has relented on its decision to suspend funding from building the Crest Academies (formerly the John Kelly schools) in Dollis Hill. The government had previously announced that it would cease all funding under the Building Schools for the Future programme, which was to cover the re-building and expansion of Copland Community School, Cardinal Hinsley Catholic College, Queen’s Park Community School and Alperton Community School. At the time Brent Council was also informed that the money for the Crest Academies was also at risk.

Source: biomapping

The decision to allocate capital funding for the project follows lobbying by Cllr Ann John, Labour Leader of Brent Council. Councillor John accompanied by Ms Beverley Bell, Head Teacher of Crest Academy (Girls) and the Council’s Education Director, Mr John Christie met with Michael Gove on 22 July. The delegation made the point that the plans for re-building were already well advanced, large sums of public money had already been spent and to withdraw funding now would be a false economy as well as putting the life chances of young people at risk.

Councillor Ann M John, OBE, Labour Leader of Brent Council, welcomed the news but warned that the withdrawal of capital funds to other schools will still cause huge problems. Cllr John said:

“I am delighted for the Crest Academies but it really would have been madness to withdraw funding when the plans are so far advanced. However, the withdrawal of funding to other schools in Brent still leaves us facing a crisis in school places and it will inevitably lead to overcrowding and poor conditions, which will affect the life chances of our young people for generations to come.”

Building Schools for the Future cut is a triple whammy for Brent

The scrapping of the revolutionary Building Schools for the Future programme serves as a triple whammy to the people of Brent and represents a false economy from Sarah Teather’s Education Department.

First and foremost, it is a cut aimed at the group in society who had no say in the election; children. Instead, the Lib Dem / Tory Coalition has rushed through the Academies Bill, advocating a ‘Free Schools’ policy aimed at schools already doing well and ignoring the issue of there being a shortage in school places in Brent, and fails to address the need to improve our failing schools. Every child should have the right and access to a decent standard of education in a respectable environment and the cuts will mean that children will continue to be educated in dilapidated buildings, unfit for the twenty-first century and that there will not be enough school places to meet the shortages.

Secondly, the building works programme provided an opportunity for stimulus in the building and construction trade. Many are still feeling the effects of the recession and the forthcoming VAT rise will increase the price of building materials, affecting profit margins and thereby adding greater financial pressure in the sector.

Thirdly, schools serve as community hubs. The scrappage deprives young people of decent standard activity centres. Schools buildings can be utilised by Local Authorities to provide after hour services for young people. Better standard building and halls also boost the commercial potential of the schools. Many local people use school halls for weddings and hire them out for private functions and parties.

The Education Department’s Permanent Secretary admitted in a letter to former Secretary of State Ed Balls, that the programme had Treasury approval and had not received any objections. We know there is money for our schools, after all, where will the money for the free schools policy come from?

Link to Article on LabourList