Empowering our Educators (4)

After yesterday’s blog with the commented version of Cllr McNeilly’s reply to Tracy Mayo, I decided that it was time to press McNeilly as she had avoided answering most of what Tracy had asked her.

Another person involved in this, and asking lots of questions, has stated publicly that “we have been lied to”. She may be right but it could also be that these folk are especially inept, who knows.

Anyway, here is the email sent today to Cllr McNeilly, cc the Bute and Cowal councillors:

Yvonne, I am copying in your colleagues on the Bute & Cowal Area Committee and will publish this email and your reply.

I have seen replies you have sent to concerned parents in recent days, notably the one to Tracy Mayo from Mull. I spent a very wet morning yesterday going through all the documents released under FOI, which were the subject of the correspondence with you.

I agree with you that, in any large scale project, things change over time. That is normal and to be expected. However, I would also expect changes to be documented as things progress. I’ve read the project brief dated October 2019 and have also read the 13 reports on the project which date from late 2019 through to end April this year. The only change from the project brief that I have spotted in the reports  was the early change in name from “remote classrooms” to “additional classrooms”. My questions, then, are about the following subjects which you have admitted you have known about all along, but I cannot see any mention of when these were changed and why.

  1. The project brief indicated savings of £675k. Both you and officers are now saying this will be cost neutral. When did this change, for what reasons and why was this not documented in the reports? What I have seen in the reports against savings is a constant position. This appears in each report:
  • There is no mention in any of the reports about any change to the position outlined in the project brief on the fact there would be no clerical staff in schools other than the main school in the cluster. However, there was also no mention of this in the presentation given to the public. Is it still the case that there are to be no clerical staff? If not, why was this change not noted in the reports? If yes, why was this not made public at the start of the consultation?
  • Why is there no mention anywhere that I can find of the costs of making current primary head teachers non-teaching? I asked about this, was told the information was not to hand so I then asked how many contractual teaching hours were in current HT contracts. I was told the figure was 25,738. Using a median point on the scale, this would cost some £764k per annum. I accept this figure may not be totally accurate but in the absence of figures from the council it is a reasonable estimate. Why is there no mention of the costs of removing teaching duties anywhere to be found in the documentation released, nor in the consultation? How does such a huge cost equate with the initial claimed savings? Where are the savings, if any, coming from?
  • The project brief mentioned 16 clusters. When was this figure changed and to what? Why is this not mentioned in the reports?
  • If schools are to retain their identities as claimed, how does this square with “complete management” being in the main school in the cluster and with an existing school being described as “additional classrooms”?
  • Why did the council use a marketing company for a consultation when its job was to get “maximum acceptance and  buy in of our concept” ? This doesn’t sound like a consultation at all but I am interested in why you think it is.

There are many more questions but I’ll stick to these Yvonne.

Thank you

By breslin_admin

I am a retired college principal and, for 5 years, a retired former councillor with Argyll & Bute Council. A member of South Cowal Community Council.

2 comments

  1. The Executive Head model is already in operation with the HT at Oban High managing Tiree HS. I wonder if the EA has asked the Tiree parents and the remaining staff for feedback on the progress of the project. I wonder if the Executive Head takeover was sold to Tiree parents as a temporary solution to a staffing problem or as a permanent solution? Was the community consulted at all? Sadly it would appear that a mainland town culture is now being imposed on an island school which had its own very distinctive ethos and culture, and which far from being nutured and protected, is apparently being dismantled. I wonder how the Tiree community really views the situation?

  2. Given that the Council has a number of full time central education staff, fully capable of carrying out a consultation, why did the Council find it necessary to employ a PR company? Was the project put out to tender to various PR companies? Why was the contract awarded to The Stand? Was due diligence followed in awarding the contract to The Stand? It would be helpful to know how much the Council has paid The Stand for its work in promoting the proposed model to date. Additionally, which Council Officers and Head Teachers have worked/are working with The Stand during this process. What steps has the Council taken to ensure that the consultation is carried without bias or benefit to any individual or group?

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