Education chiefs need to look at bigger picture when planning resources

EDITOR – Louth and Mablethorpe Save our Schools should not proclaim to be representing Mablethorpe without consultation of its stakeholders – myself, my children and other children and families, after all their group has petitioned Lincolnshire County Council for public consultations on schools seeking to become academies.

The academies programme is intended to raise standards for all children, while narrowing the gap between the attainment of the most and least advantaged. Communities, schools and academies should be committed to narrowing the gap, improving outcomes for children and families and ensuring that learning experiences are of the highest quality.

As a parent governor of an academy in Alford I am acutely aware of the socio-economic context surrounding the Mablethorpe and Alford areas: high unemployment, lack of investment in children and young people, the 11-plus and low aspirations.

The report, Narrowing the Gap in Deprived Areas of Lincolnshire 2010 noted Mablethorpe as being in the 10 per cent most deprived areas in England with too much variability of services. Two years on from this report and the situation is much worse, problems are being passed into education so schools are struggling to meet Government targets.

From 2013, students from Mablethorpe and Alford will have to stay in education or training until they are 17 – and 18 from 2015. With a shortage of places for post-16 education and a 100 per cent increase in the contribution for transport to Further Education young people will face many difficulties. Those who are on the English Baccalaureate pathway in settings with no sixth forms will face competition for places at nearby grammar schools. There is also a shortage of meaningful vocational placements.

There are many other issues facing children and families on the Lincolnshire coast, and no education system is perfect, so I believe dialogue is important for opening up debate on education. Parent governors of academies are still accountable to parents and should be able to ask questions of their governing bodies. The Secretary of State for Education has also placed an onus on academies to work together.

Time is of the essence for our up-and-coming generation so I would urge Louth, Mablethorpe and Alford communities, academies and schools to pool resources.

We need to look at the bigger picture.