Letter to Editor: SFG College meeting: “A complete waste of time”

News / Fri 1st Dec 2023 at 10:24am

Dear Editor,

MANY parents I spoke to last night after the meeting at SFG with the DfE, Baroness Barran and Robert Halfon, left the site dismayed and angry. The overwhelming opinion seemed to be that the event had been carefully stage managed so that the panel could avoid difficult questions and that the self congratulatory tone of the Baroness and Mr Halfon really grated with parents who were promised a great new school, but not until 2027.

It wasn’t a great start. The promised face to face was changed to an online question and answer session. A session that lasted just an hour, with the first half hour taken up with prepared speeches from the three on the panel and Mr Halfon, leaving just half an hour for questions.

Many parents I spoke to expressed their disappointment that Robert Halfon, having promised to answer questions, just spoke for 5 minutes and then ducked out, not to be seen again.

The “exciting news” that SFG would be demolished and rebuilt, hopefully by 2027, was met with dismay. For the parents of children already at SFG, all this exciting news meant, was that their children would spend the entirety of their secondary school careers in temporary buildings in the middle of a building site.

Parents of Year 11’s asking for consideration to be taken when their child’s GCSEs were marked, were told there would be none. Instead the solution offered was for catch up classes to be offered on Saturdays and during school holidays. There seemed to be no understanding of the difficulties this would cause pupils who engage in weekend sports activities and the need for some parents to lose deposits on holidays already booked, let alone the effect on the mental health of children already working hard who will now be deprived of weekends 

Very few questions were actually allowed to be asked. Those that were seemed to have been sanitised. Just one of my five questions was presented and that had been drastically cut to allow for a non answer. Of the questions that were asked, many were not properly answered and much of the half hour allowed was used up by the panel waffling and, in an unbelievable show of arrogance, congratulating themselves on their “solutions”.

Astonishingly we did learn that the Headteacher if SFG, the CEO of BMT and the the chair of the academy chain were also being kept in the dark by the DfE.

We were promised the Baroness would come to the school on a later date and meet face to face We were also promised that every question submitted that hadn’t been answered, because of the pitifully short time allowed, would be answered in writing by the DfE. The laughter that greeted these promises suggested that many parents had lost patience with promises that are almost always broken. I won’t be holding breath.

I’ll leave the last words to the parents I spoke to at the end. I asked one dad what he thought of the evening. His answer was “rubbish”. Two mum’s answered the same question by saying “it was a complete waste of time.”


Mark Ingall


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11 Comments for Letter to Editor: SFG College meeting: “A complete waste of time”:

2023-12-01 10:37:57

Parents, pull all the pupils out of school, and refuse to send them back until you get satisfactory answers, and a temporary facility fit for purpose. The media (local and national) will be all over it. Watch the DfE, the MP and Baroness B**lshit get their act together then!! An entire school on strike....... never been heard of. Election coming up, so they will want to save the day, and maybe even start building the new school right away!!

Paul sears
2023-12-01 11:04:00

Quite apt, Banner on SFG fence. The science of building. Joke SFG, promised the world by head, left with shattered school life for all kids attending. And now compulsory Saturday school for them to catch up. Kids are paying the price for DFE,s complete incompetence. Halfon MP says good news, new school in 2027, and DFE cannot talk about if corruption involved of building of school, as, they announced this is territory they don't want to discuss. With weird comment we won't be checking our own homework. Questions cherry picked to answer. From raft of hundreds. Funny how the head didn't say a word either.

Jennifer tyrrell
2023-12-01 11:30:52

I totally agree with Phil’s comment! I would have pulled my children out and refused home learning or learning in a non suitable place all together long ago! This is completely unacceptable and to follow all this up with the fact children will get no consideration with their exams! Abysmal treatment these kids don’t stand a chance! I am so thankful I chose I different school for my children who have already had two sets of mock exams in the run up to their exams that define essentially life choices in work and their career! All the parents should get together and refuse this treatment it’s absolutely shocking! I really do feel for those poor kids and families who in now the rest of their school lives will have upheaval and disruption….

2023-12-01 12:38:11

So glad my grandchildren in year 7 and year 9 have been moved to a different school. It would be nice if the money spent on new school uniform could be reimbursed

2023-12-01 13:24:18

The same question has been asked several times. How could a building which has so many structural faults that it needs to be totally demolished have passed the stage inspections and been signed off? The other question is who signed it off and has the same body or person signed off other buildings

Mark Ingall
2023-12-01 15:05:30

I can answer part of your question Colin. The DfE contracted out building control to a private firm. They had oversight of building standards during construction and they would ha e had responsibility for the final sign off.

2023-12-01 15:50:53

Will the DfE be suing this "contracted out building control private firm" ? Also investigate possible corruption? Is the name of the "firm" known and how many other buildings have they been involved with?

Mark Ingall
2023-12-01 18:23:52

JB, the company that won the tender to build SFH were Caledonia Modular. They have built three other schools all of which have had to be demolished. They have declared bankrupt. I have asked Robert Halfon several times if any member of the Tory party, or family friend or donor to the Tory party benefitted financially from the awarding if the contracts to Caledonia Modular, he has not yet provided a clear answer. As to building control, according to the Baroness last night, we will have to wait and see.

Stephen Archer
2023-12-01 19:09:35

It makes me very sad and angry. What a waste. What a blight on young people's education. How was this school ever handed over to the accountable body as fit for purpose?

Debbie Thomson
2023-12-02 07:30:33

Why can't the temporary school bjuildings be put up atvother schools, so the children will not be disrupted by the building works? Resident & concerned citizen of Willowfield Tower.

2023-12-03 17:05:41

Mark, thanks for info.... Companies House website states that Caledonian Modular commenced winding up the company on 15 December 2017 and was dissolved 8 April 2019. How is it DfE allowed this company to build SFG school when they were going into voluntary liquidation? Really! Also note quite a few of past company executives were US citizens, significance?

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