Letter to the Editor: SFG College: More questions for Baroness Barran
Politics / Mon 4th Dec 2023 at 08:10am
AT the SFG meeting last Thursday the panel, acknowledging how short the available time was, promised to answer in writing any questions that were put to them.
Mine are as follows. I shall be writing to the DfE with them at the end of the week. If other parents have additional questions, please write them in the comments below and I’ll happily add them to the list. When I get a response I’ll share them.
1) Caledonia Modular were a company that were not a member of the trade body for modular construction. Why were they given the contract to build a £29 million modular school?
2) Did any member of the Conservative party (or their family, friends or donors) benefit financially from the awarding of this contract to Caledonia Modular.
3) The DfE were responsible for monitoring build quality of SfG and for signing it off. They outsourced this responsibility to a private company that clearly failed in their duty. Will the DfE be pursuing that company for the rebuild cost of SfG necessary because of the failure to inspect the building during construction?
4) The DfE intervened during COVID to have OFQUAL reduce grade boundaries because pupils had not had face to face teaching. Will the DfE intervene again for year 10 and 11 students who have missed so much face to face teaching?
5) What new money will be made available to SFG to support students, particularly those with SEND, who’s mental health has been adversely affected by the chaos of this term?
6) What caused the delay in the delivery of the portacabins? We were told by our current MP, Robert Halfon that SfG would be at the front of the queue for these. They were promised for November, we are told hopefully we can expect them in April. This is an increase in time from the promised 3 months to 8 months.
7) Why did the DfE think allowing just a, disrespectful, thirty minutes for questions about all these matters was acceptable? And why did our MP Robert Halfon duck out of the meeting without answering even one question?
Questions: When will compensation be paid to the parents and staff? How many teachers' are now unemployed?
How much will it cost to build another school on the same plot? How long will the tender process take? How long will the new build take to build? My machine cut out on the first posting!
How are DFE going to support SFG by trying retaining existing staff? Or will our children have no staff as well as building. Also, what about dirt and noise during the construction works, how is this going to be managed or are our children going to be doing more online learning?
For 2 years the school was functioning normally then out of the blue it was said to be unsafe. My question is was it ever safe
There is a clear lack of consideration from the DFE towards the CEO and Headteacher of the school. This was evidenced by the Baroness and her assistants laughing and joking through the online meeting. They did not even think about telling Dame Helena or Mrs Conlon about the possibility of the Sports Hall reopening or the new expected timetable for reopening the whole school before telling parents. That is a concerning indicator of how unimportant they view this school as. How will the DFE review this and will there be improved communication between the school and the DFE.
Why can't you fund the rent for use of a building to allow these students to come together and give them the experience they should be having in their secondary school years. They need continuity, stability and reassurance to enable them to focus on their right to an education. There must be someone willing to rent a building large enough. Why are you not looking into this? Where's your responsibility to these students and staff? Do you actually care?
In Europe schools work a split day, so start early and finish earlier, allowing a second shirt to commence after lunch. As you have enough staff to do this, could it not be considered to relocate the children to a venue nearby offering them schooling with teachers they are familiar with. In Europe the school day is either 7-1 or 1-7 (other periods of day used for preparation). It’s not ideal but parents would be able to plan days, allowing them to resume working and needing less child care arrangements. Teachers would remain employed.
Question: Why can't the existing foundations be used to build on? Why are we now having to have new plans/layout drawn and planning approved. This is just prolonging the entire situation. Thank you Mark.
The Glaxo Smith Kline Beecham building at The Pinnacles looks as though it will not now be used by The Health Agency. Could this be modified into school use? Total lack of urgent concern by DFe Baroness and her two yes men.
There seems there is an issue with flies in the Class rooms and corridors, which is concerning given the temperatures outside at the moment. This raises the poor level of hygiene within the classrooms , toilet facilities and catering areas.
Why cant sfg have special circumstances and have planning permission pushed through faster, 2025 for planing to be accomplished is far too long! And DFE said we should be happy to hear this news !! She laughed and joked through the meeting and then refused to answer other questions, all three were a disgrace, and the Harlow MP is just a mouth peace telling us he can't dicuss matters, spend most of his time thanking people !
At the meeting the DfE representatives refused to answer a question, stating it was an area they didn't want to discuss. It would be great for them to either answer this question in full, or explain exactly why they don't want to answer it. The question was along the lines of "can the department explain the tendering process which lead to a failing and unqualified company to receive the contract, and how were the problems with the build then completely missed at each step of signing off of the building?". As another parent has already asked above, i would also like to know if any individual connected to government has benefitted financially from the awarding of the contract to the original construction company. Andy how will students and staff be protected from the dust and noise during demolition and construction of the building.
Thank you for these questions. I will add them to mine unaltered and present both to the CEO of the Burnt Mill Academy trust and to Baroness Barran. As soon as I get some answers I'll post them in a follow up letter to Your Harlow. Thanks again Mark Ingall.
At the meeting, did anyone else notice that they said that the Department for Education is an expert in building, then quickly qualified the statement, saying the Department for Education are experts in building Tempory Classrooms. Can the College be renamed, please? I'm sure Sir Frederick Gibberd would hate to have his name associated with such a ball up as this..