Harlow Labour leader expresses grave concern over most recent problems for SFG College

News / Sat 21st Oct 2023 at 03:39pm

THE LEADER of Harlow Labour and prospective parliamentary candidate, Chris Vince has expressed his grave concern at the most recent news regarding SFG College in Harlow.

Chris Vince said: “My thoughts go out to students, parents and teachers of Sir Fredrick Gibberd Colleges (SFG) who once again face unacceptable disruption to their education after they received news that the school will not re-open to most pupils after half term.

In a further blow students are warned that online learning may be imposed at unspecified times during the winter.

How can working parents plan their lives with no certainty about when their children will be in school and when they will not?

More than two months after the news that the building of SFG was not safe we still have not received straightforward answers from our town’s MP and education minister. Perhaps this latest crisis will encourage him to open up and give parents the answers they are demanding?

Who contracted the, now bankrupt, company who’s only experience of building modular schools ended in demolitions? And who signed off the project allowing Harlow’s children to spend two years in a building in danger of collapse if it rained or snowed?

When will the school be rebuilt? Parents of Year 6 pupils are making choices of secondary schools for next year now. If they choose SFG how long will their children be in portacabins?

On the separate and wider issue, why did the Conservative Government cancel Labour’s school rebuilding program in 2010? Why did the Conservative Government refuse to give Essex additional funding to tackle the problem of RAAC in schools in 2012?

I was contacted by one parent of a student at SFG, who wishes to remain anonymous, who told me this:

‘My son is in year 11 at SFG he has severe ADHD and has always found school difficult and challenging. He finds it extremely difficult to do home and online learning and works so much better being in a school environment with a teacher who can keep him engaged and on track. Due to this I worry just how much work if any will get done at home and being I’m not a teacher cant offer him the support he gets in school. I feel that the year 11’s are being let down in what is such a crucial year for them and how all this up roar will have major impacts on their GCSE results. 

Mr Halfon has a lot to answer to. He is the minister in the DofE so should be able to do something about this, but instead hides away in a crisis. Given the new school catastrophe wouldn’t you think he would have made sure the temporary ones were fit for purpose knowing they would be needed for so long.’

Sadly there doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by without further examples of this Conservative government’s failings when it comes to education. Not only are we facing a teaching recruitment and retention crisis, but also this week we’ve been told that the government’s flagship qualifications, the T levels, are to be scrapped leading to uncertainty for hundreds of students across Harlow.

It’s time for change. Things do not need to be like this. The leader of the head teacher’s Union Craig Barton said last week ” the real beauty of Labour’s plans for education is not the policies themselves but the pledge to actually work with the teaching profession, unlike the Conservatives who have spent 13 years working against and scapegoating the teachers”.

As for the current issues facing SFG college and the many schools facing uncertainty in Harlow and across the country, the Conservatives need to accept the blame is theirs and theirs alone.

Chris Vince

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5 Comments for Harlow Labour leader expresses grave concern over most recent problems for SFG College:

D. Sullivan
2023-10-22 06:50:29

Shortcuts were taken to line pockets, and it’s the children, their families and their teachers that are paying the price. Same as with most other public services. Change can’t come fast enough.

2023-10-22 09:02:40

Well said Chris Vince. I also feel sorry for all those students and staff who just want some kind of normality. Instead the DofE has let them down again. So frustrating that the MP is a minister in the DofE and still can’t get it right. I feel for the poor parent who contacted you. It’s time I believe for all parents who fell the same to unite with you as one voice to get this awful situation sorted before it gets worse.

2023-10-22 12:04:09

Don't hold your breath Mr Vince. If Mr Halfon had some answers that weren't damaging to his prospects as a Conservative Minister he'd give them. His silence can only mean he's got stuff to hide.

David Forman
2023-10-23 01:25:22

I think Chris Vince's use of Craig Barton's quote should be reinterpreted as a criticism of Labour: "the real beauty of Labour’s plans for education is not the policies themselves".

2023-10-24 08:22:19

The real question about this shambolic episode is who signed the building stages off?

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