It is some time since I last wrote and you may have noticed that since then we now have a new government ... well two at least! With a Con-Lib coalition now in office there are more questions than answers at the present time regarding the fate of grammar schools, BSF funding (or lack of it) and particularly the outcome of the Expression of Interest (EoI).
The new Secretary of State for Education is the Rt. Hon Michael Gove MP who replaces Ed Balls. Mr Gove is the MP for Surrey Heath which probably has a number of constituent children attending St Bernard’s. As you are aware, the Diocese and Slough Council submitted the EoI in March 2010 to the DCSF (now DfE) in an attempt to have the academy proposal agreed to enter the feasibility stage. Fortunately, the election was called prior to the document being reviewed and, as a consequence, the EoI remains an outstanding item for Mr Gove and his new team to review.
Waiting for this to happen or a decision from the DfE will probably have an effect on the school that we will not see immediately or know what impact it causes. We do know however that both current and future parents, Catholic or otherwise, have the awful dilemma as to whether they should send their child to St Bernard’s while the threat of an academy looms. I consider this to be an unhealthy position to be in, not least because of the future well being of our excellent school.
It has been almost two years since the Diocese announced their intention to “explore options” and, as we now know, no other options have been explored. The actions of the parties involved can at best be described as "covert" by keeping the theme that “nothing has happened” when all the time meetings with the DfE, Partnership for Schools and sponsors have been on-going to formulate their proposal. In my opinion these actions are not only distasteful but a worrying manifestation of how parents will be treated in the future. Clearly, they have not considered any views to date so why should we believe that they will be heard at a later date .... when it will be too late! Also, you will have read recently that the governors voted 17:1 that they were not content with the EoI but this was still submitted without further discussion.
We need to reinforce our objection to the academy proposal NOW. I, along with a number of FaCT members, have already written to Mr Gove to seek clarification on their intended schools policy and to register our objection to the unsupported academy proposal. You, as do all the other parents, need to write to Mr Gove to register your objections to the closure of St. Bernard’s and subsequent opening of an academy.
Don’t wait for someone else, do it now for the benefit of the children at the school and those that hope to enjoy the same opportunity in the future.
Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
House of Commons
Parent Governor & Fact Chairman
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