New Secondary School in Brixton

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by Gramsci, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. pooka

    pooka Can't Re Member

    I agree with hatboy. BAF is good and bad in parts. The judgement to be made is (1) does the good outweigh the bad and (2) what are the chances of improving the bad?

    I've seen examples of good. I think the UDp meeting was better for being facilitated by BAF rather than just put on by officers or councillors. Ward meetings can, and do, provide opportunities for people who've been banging their head against the beaurocracy to deal with council officers directly, with the support of their neighbours. And to keep coming back with their problem until it's sorted. They can also address bigger issues that impact across a ward or wider, like the skateboard park or the Windmill. I'm not sure where else that would happen.

    If the City Academy meeting was unsatisfactory, then I suspect that was down to whoever was organising it - possibly just mismanagement of time(I wasn't there). If people who were there are unsatisfied, then they should complain and copy to their councillor.

    Can't say I liked Sound magazine much myself. It was a bit to "company house mag" and designery (awful for people with visual impairment). But I agree, there should be a substitute and I understand one is being sought. I believe it wasn't BAF's decision to stop it, but a funding decision on the part of the council.

    I don't think that BAF is an agent of the council (nor does the constitution say that) but it is dependent on the council for funding. I'd argue that BAF needs to think very carefully about that relationship and how it might diversify funding to enable a more arms legnth approach.

    But what, if anything, would you put in BAF's place Anna?
  2. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    My suggestion is modest: that BAF enforces its own constitution - which is down to the named lead officer, the Town Centre Manager.

    Who, incidentally, is employed by, paid for, and contracted to, Lambeth Council on a 100% basis. She is subject to the Council's disciplinary arrangement and codes of conduct. She is part of a line management going up to senior officers and the politicians.

    So to argue, as you have, that BAF is independent of the Council is strange. Why do you do it? It's simply untrue.
  3. IntoStella

    IntoStella Banned Banned

    The KGB, silly! :p
  4. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    Bloody liberal. :mad:
  5. ernestolynch

    ernestolynch Banned Banned

    Indeed - thousands of Lambeth school-age children are educated by Croydon, Southwark and Merton. Do Lambeth council taxes take this into account?

    Beware the words 'City Academy' - they may sound shiny and new to those with no knowledge of the education warned.
  6. pooka

    pooka Can't Re Member

    I think we may be at cross-purposes here, centring round the distinction between "dependent", which clearly has degrees and "agent", which in my terms doesn't.:)
  7. hatboy

    hatboy Banned Banned

    "My suggestion is modest: that BAF enforces its own constitution - which is down to the named lead officer, the Town Centre Manager."

    Well Diane Burridge is the new Town Centre Manager. I suggest you email her or Rachell Heywood, the BAF chair. They are both very approachable. :)

    And AK, asking nicely, but could you stop going on about BAF so negatively now? It is what it is, not perfect, but improving I reckon and you make me feel like not bothering even going, with all this picking it apart. What good is all this on here?

    I actually went to the damn meeting and said that BAF needs to think about the replacement for Sound and how democratic it is, etc.

    Thanks. :) :(
  8. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    A few points re the school first;

    1) Im not saying that everything SSCIL say is correct and the Council wrong.I weigh issues myself and decide what I think.I oppose a City Academy for ideological reasons(see my previous posts).I also think Somerleyton Rd is not a suitable site for a school.If thats the only site possible is not the point.

    2)Hatboys point about an Academy specialising in Creative/Cultural being a good thing for Brixton.I have a feeling that this has been an idea floating around,as I have heard it before.I fear it is a way of making a City Academy more palatable for local people.According to what Ive read the "specialism" is up to the sponsor not the local community.Of course if the DfES were clever they would get a sponsor to do this.

    3) I also object to specialist schools as IMO schools should cater for all kinds of students.Why should a kid who likes sport have to go to a school that specialises in Creative/Cultural because he/she is in the catchment area?Schools should have the facilities and teachers to help foster a wide range of interests.I see no logical sense in "specialisms" for students at secondary school age.

    4)I was interested in Mr BC point about LEA schools now having to "specialise" and have "partnerships"-thats new to me-could u expand on that?It seems to be all a prelude to the privatisation of education.

    5)Brixon Hatters point about influx/gentrification if City Academy is built.This assumes that the City Academy will be a success.The programme is an educational experiment-the government is pouring a lot of money into it at the moment.It may be no better than the much derided "bog standard" comprehensive."Sir" Bruce Liddington was,I noticed,spending a lot of his presentation on issues such as entrance policy.If u do get info,BH please post it up.

    6)Thanks to Infostella for pointing out that its Cllr Bottrall as some of us have been misspelling his name ;)
  9. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Re BAF.

    This is a relevant issue for this thread now the BAF has got involved in the "consultation" on the new school.Is this consultation via BAF going to be a stitch up so the Council gets the decision from the local "community" it wants?My experience of previous BAF meetings and this one is yes it will.I did complain at the meeting(as well as others) about this.I did try to email the new BAF town centre mge but the Lambeth website still has the previous Managers email address-and i certainly dont want to send it to her.

    I agree with Anna on this-I want the BAF to enforce its own constitution(to which I had some input).If I correctly remember the clauses about discussing contentious issues and Trade Union reps to BAF are partly down to me.

    Some of the disagreement has been down to the difference between your average BAF(and Im a card carrying member) and Brixton Town Centre mge(BTCM).As Anna correctly points out the BTCM are appointed and paid for by the Council.I think when the Labour council set the BAF up it did not clarify the job descriptions of the BTCM.At one point BTCM would be on "your" side next BTCM would be telling u that the bottom line is that the council pay their wages.

    Therefore I would slightly amend Annas comments to that the BTCM should work to the Constitution.

    The Sound mag was complete bollox and a waste of money.It has been unfortunately resurrected online as part of Lambeths website if anyone fancies a look at Lambeths "KGB" style propaganda.

    Also I dont want to get to personal but,to put it diplomatically,some BAF members are more amenable to the Council and BTCM than others(and before people get upset Im not putting Hatboy/Pooka in this category).Its hard going to BAF meetings when you are getting stick from BTCM for raising issues around assets.

    I still think it might be useful to go to some BAF meetings for info purposes if anything else-but without any illusions.

    Going back to the BAF school meeting-it was not mismanagement of time.The agenda for the meeting had no question and answer bit in it.The meeting was set up to stop any argument.Ten minute were allowed for questions after complaints from the floor.The school meeting was classic Forum-it was done on the premise that "we" will all work "constructively" together with with the Council etc.Anna as someone with more experience of Trade Union work than me can probably see this as a typical Management technique.Im not necessarilly blaming individauls for this-its a structural thing.That said my attitude is i will go to some BAF as long as its clear that my role is,as a local resident,to scrutinise Council policy etc as stated in the constitution.But not to sit their and agree with the Council.

    I will give the new TCM a chance and see if she keeps to the constitution.
  10. hatboy

    hatboy Banned Banned

    I can't argue with that.
  11. IntoStella

    IntoStella Banned Banned

    Are you feeling all right? :confused:

  12. Mr BC

    Mr BC New Member

    4)I was interested in Mr BC point about LEA schools now having to "specialise" and have "partnerships"-thats new to me-could u expand on that?It seems to be all a prelude to the privatisation of education.

    New government regs mean that no LEA can build a community school without first going through a national competition and inviting 'bids' from any interested group.

    That's what's likely to happen with the new West Norwood School, which is due to open in September 2006.

    The move to make all schools specialist is gaining momentum. It's, arguably, a bit of nonsense anyway. Doesn't seem to make that much difference in reality.
  13. hatboy

    hatboy Banned Banned

    LOL - You see IS, just cos I've started getting a little more involved in BAF doesn't mean I think it's everything or perfect. This is my point further up. I can still think some things are great and some are not right about it.

  14. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    You should feel flattered. Elements in the Council clearly want to close down discussion before it starts. Otherwise why would they be censoring and manipulating in the way you describe?

    In trade unions "consultation" often divides into three sorts.

    - an employer says "we intend to do this" say sack X people on Y date and pay Z compensation, then sit back and ignore what the union says.

    - they consult "with the aim of reaching agreement." Slightly better than the first but it still maintains management's "right to manage."

    - they consult within a framework where if a failure to agree occurs some third party comes in and tells both sides what to do. Employers hate this system - it puts real pressure on them to reach sensible agreements with their trade unions.

    On the Lambeth schools thingy I guess you're at the first stage. Elements in the Council are pretending to "consult" while making damn sure no actual "consultation" occurs.
  15. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

  16. Fenian

    Fenian let us rise

    I agree with Gramsci about Sound magazine/Pravda - this was not a community newspaper but a Council publication, as Forum members were instructed, and there was no possibility of input from community members. Well, fine. If the Council wanted to have, or wants to have, a publication, let them; it was their (well, it was our) money. There are worse things they could have done. Just don't insult our intelligence by claiming there was input, or that the community were involved.
    Moving on, I would also be interested to see whether or not the commitment made by the Chair of the BAF at the Assembly Rooms meeting will be acted on. Namely, to have another poublic meeting early in the new year where people can have an opportunity to ask questions about schools in Lambeth, as opposed to receiving information in a very top-down, linear fashion.
    If the Council are serious about this there would also be an opportunity to comment before the event on the structure and process of the event e.g. stipulate time and space for input from the floor. For too long the language of consultation has been abused in regeneration, as noted recently by some authorities. This might help to avoid the scenario after such pseudo-whole systems events where: "...after an event, leaders revert to excluding all but the most senior people from decisions, giving instructions rather than involving, managing down the vertical columns of the organisation...people will then view the event a glossy performance. Frustration is likely to be greater than it was before." (Attwood et al, Leading Change , Policy Press 2003.
  17. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Catching up on my reading over Christmas i read "Farewell to the Working Class" by Andre Gorz(and Ive already be told a post Marxist like me is first in line for the firing squad when the Trot revolution comes:p )

    In a essay on "Time" he quotes from "La Revolution du Temps Choisi"(Jacque Delors had a hand in this document).This looks at how Capitalism has shaped our ideas about time and and alternative.Their is a bit about education:

    "Learning To Be Bored"

    "All the defects of the way we organise time are engraved in their purest form in school time...It is time fragmented in the most ridiculous way:time spent learning and free time;school time and holidays...It is uniform time,which does violence to the obvious heterogeneity of naturally unmoulded children,and still more to their development..Such education works to prevent the control of time.Indeed the whole system is antithetic to the self management of time."

    According to Gorz the aspect of Socialist thought that is often forgotten is the abolition of work.That is in the Capitalist sense.You sell your labour to live.What you do outside work is "freedom"-even if this is often laid out for us in consumer capitalism.

    School helps inculcate this attitude to time and work.The abolition of school and work as we know it would lead to people following their own desires and interests.

    As Gorz says,

    "The freeing of time therefore also requires collective decisions of a new type,"an improvement in the social environment" and in the fabric of of urban life ,facilities that can be used and self managed by individuals,neighbourhoods and small cooperatives...Their can be no policy of time which does not call for new cultural,education and urban policies."
  18. lang rabbie

    lang rabbie Je ne regrette les gazebos

    Interesting stuff Gramsci, but does discussion at this level of abstraction help in providing a vision for a community focused new school?

    (i) Even a nineteenth century liberal like myself would consult my Self Help and say there's a strong argument for only a minimal core of fixed teaching for all pupils - " a new three Rs" - (which in my ideal world would have to include IT literacy, but would be less burdensome than the current national curriculum).

    Could we then look to an "extended" school day, growing increasingly flexible as pupils take on responsibility, and in which they opt to participate in subjects and activities, including many creative options that are currently defined as "extra-curricular"? Some of these need not need to be school-based, and pupils could be alongside adult learners in local colleges.

    But .... I fear that this is fantasy at the moment.

    How do we get to that ideal from where we are now, where some kids as young as 12 fall prey to a truancy culture - seeing the "respect" and easy money to be had from involvement on the fringes of the drugs scene?

    I can understand why many parents want their kids in a structured quasi-military environment 10 hours a day as an alternative to the streets, and also want to ensure that their children get some of those credentials for the world of wage slavery known as GCSEs!

    Hmmm.... perhaps William Golding might have been better Christmas reading - IMO children with no "moral" compass can be the worst sort of conformists to peer pressure without any adult intervention!

    Edited to reduce rambling
  19. hatboy

    hatboy Banned Banned

    "Learning To Be Bored", eh?

    Easy to do in this thread! ;)
  20. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    The quotes I used were "self management".I would use the term Self Help in the mutual aid sense.Without getting into the politics of the 19th C to much Smiles books laid down the morality for the Victorian Middles Classes.

    Their is however an argument that the "self help" organisations of the early labour movement did buy into some of his notions-the "respectable" worker.Smiles was after all a Chartist in his early days.

    It depends on how one views human nature.
  21. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    Have any minutes come out of the last meeting (the one reported above which was a two hour lecture with a few moments tacked on the end for questions from the floor)?

    Which reminds me of another trick likely to be played if the organisers really don't want to consult but, instead, intend to pretend to consult:-

    They'll either not publish minutes or do a "Ministry of Truth" - publish minutes in which critical points are either excluded or made to sound stupid or bloody-minded.

    Are any of these tricks being played? I do hope not.
  22. Fenian

    Fenian let us rise

    My prediction (and I hope I'm wrong):

    first, the commitment made in her closing remarks by the Chair of BAF that another meeting will be held early in the new year to listen to people's views and facilitate them in asking questions will NOT be honoured at this stage. they will certainly not invite questioning voices from the community i.e. "all parts of the system" for input on how to structure and process the meeting.

    second, they will conduct an internal consultation with educationalists, parents and schools using a questionnaire with set questions. the questions omitted will be as important as the questions included.

    third, only tame voices will be included in design of this process.

    fourth, when they have gathered all responses they will present the replies in line with their preferred options.

    fifth, they may then call another meeting when they have their departments in gear and officers set up to pursue the option they prefer; more cosmetic time may be allocated for extra questions, which will be dutifully noted and ignored. speakers will be selected on the basis of their preferred options i.e. further information on setting up a city academy, "moving the process forward" (gag), dissonant voices will be marginalised, people urged to "move on" . a nice speaker on creative cultural stuff (possibly a guest celeb)?

    once again, I hope I'm wrong.

    if that sounds too cynical, let me say I don't think they are guaranteed success. from what I see sscil have put together a vibrant, informed and credible campaign, and if they keep to it they may upset the apple-cart. their weakness is that they are so poorly-resourced and open to snide comment as is the case with any campaign/pressure-group; their strength is first and foremost that they are a genuine parent and community-based initiative.
  23. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    I think so.Life-long learning and "localism" are New Labour buzzwords.I think in practise this is biased in favour of big business.City Academies are the part privatisation of education.They dont extend local democracy.

    Gorz-a post industrial socialist influenced by the then new social movements like green movement,feminism as well as Marx-was looking at how a socialist society could organise itself giving people the maximum autonmony.

    He wanted to see "an improvement in the social environment".IMO a school/community centre which would cater for all ages and interests.They already exist (just despite funding cuts) as "adult" education institutes.People can come and go as they please and are under no compulsion unlike normal schools.

    A practical suggestion in line with Gorzs work would be to build such a centre in central Brixton.

    Also extending Youth provision.As Hatboy pointed out on another thread their are places like Dexter adventure playground that receive pitiful funding.The proper funding of such resources would be the kind of thing that Gorz would support.

    So his work is not so "abstract" as that.

    As for theories of education they are largely implicit-regarded as "commonsense".What annoys me is the City Academies-which are an educational experiment-are not justified IMO in any way theoretically by New Labour.
  24. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    I agree with Fenian;) .Ive looked at Lambeths website.Cant find many minutes from Brixton Forum.The last one I found was a BAF board meeting 14/10/2003 where the new school was discussed,

    "Discussion took place about the content of the tabled resolution and the remit of the BAF over its advocacy/consultative roles.There were concerns by some members of the Board about the suitability of a petition at this stage.It was agreed that Paul Jackson would draft a poll on the City Academy plans and would present to the board at the November meeting.This would be complementary to the consultation process undertaken by the Education department."

    The tabled resolution was not in the minutes so I can only guess what it was.

    I am a forum member and Ive seen no poll yet.Ive filled in the Education dept one.

    The advocacy/consultative role of Brixton Forum has always been confused.Its a major structural flaw.Their was no clarity of its role when the Council (Labour)set it up.The same goes for Brixton Town Centre Mge.

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