Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blogsy Blog

I'm trying out a new blog editor called 'Blogsy' on my iPad, sitting here waiting for the train to leave Victoria station, while reading through tomorrow night's Cabinet papers, so please forgive any typos!

In the report is the strategic assessment and community safety plan for 2012 - 2013 and I'm struck by a number of the statistics as I read through it, looking for signs of progress in dealing with some of the island's more immediate challenges.

What we can see is how levels of deprivation vary quite considerably across Thanet, with some areas among the nation's top 20% of deprived spots and others among the 20% least deprived areas. The former we all recognise as Margate Central, Cliftonville West and the latter as the Bradstowe ward in Broadstairs.

While crime overall is reportedly down by 3.2%, the most marked of which are burglary and theft from vehicles, domestic abuse remains the highest in Kent and I see far too many, in my judgement, residents admitted to hospital for mental and behavioural disorders as well as the growing impact of substance misuse, once again, in the more familiar problem areas but also, I'm worried to say, in Westgate, where I am a ward councillor.

Anti-social behaviour figures high on the statistics, particularly in the problem wards and this is not unexpected, given the relatively high numbers of unemployed young men, in contrast with the local and national average and the fact that we have a significant inward migration challenge; a high annual turnover in and out of the district. It's hardly surprising then that ASB frequently leads to other forms of criminality, such as receiving stolen goods, substance abuse or vandalism among those young men with little or no prospects, cultural or language challenges and a minimal level of education.

Of course, the good news is that we can see a very small improvement and the police have now changed the way that anti-social behaviour is reported. However, the bad news remains the fact that we remain a beacon of domestic violence in England, which is quite intolerable and might be a better subject for Council to debate next month, I hope you would agree, than the motion to discuss the rights and wrongs of gay marriage.

This week's news that the Marlowe academy has been placed in special measures by OFSTED saddens me. It is not, as Steve Ladyman said on BBC Radio Kent, a consequence of "Aggressive selection by local grammar schools." Rather, having now gone through several decades of failure under different names, it highlights a much broader and more serious social challenge that the catchment area needs to address. £30 million was spent on building an academy with unrivalled facilities and a dedicated team directed at solving the problems of the Ramsgate school before it. 'Special Measures' begs the question of whether the academy concept is a much wider failure or whether there exists a negative socio-cultural issue locally, one which simply makes it impossible to deliver a level of secondary education which reaches the even the lowest rung of national expectations?

I'm really intersted in seeing readers comments on this subject. Where do you think the problem(s) lie with the Marlowe


Anonymous said...

Simon, With regard to the conyngham/Ramsgate/ Marlowe Acadamy... Is it not a case of 'You Cannot Make a Silk Purse out of a Sows Ear' ? The School and its teachers are great... The strting product is flawed!

Readit said...

As I understand it, but I am no expert. The OFSTED inspection of the Marlowe was carried out late last year only a few weeks after a new administration was put in place. That OFSTED report has only just been published, but the next inspection is imminent and hopes are high for an improvement.

Anonymous said...

I was a school governor in Ramsgate at the time the Marlowe Academy was on the drawing boards and a consensus of opinion around people in education at the time, excluding the ever optimistic liberals, was wrong place.

How much better it might have been spending even some of that money of enlarging and improving the rest of Thanet's secondary schools, retaining Hereson and Ellington as separate schools, and spreading the pupils from the Ramsgate school around. After all, no school in Thanet is too far from anywhere else and there are even children commuting in from Herne Bay to some of them.

No, Steve Ladyman wanted an Academy and the head designate at the time was confident he was going to have pupils from the grammars begging for places. Sometimes you really could not make it up.

Anonymous said...

Bit unfair 5:24 because there are some good kids go to the Marlowe, as they did to the Ramsgate before. With the Broadstairs trio of secondary schools regularly over subscribed, there are inevitably children who miss out and get sent there.

The problem is a large disruptive element who make it virtually impossible for teachers to educate even the ones who want to learn.
In that respect I agree with the earlier comment about spreading them around so as to divide and conquer.

As to Ladyman and his usual anti-grammar school rant. If the Marlowe failure is down to the grammar schools creaming off, then why don't all the other non-selective schools in Thanet also fail.