Elmbridge Youth Service

Youth Club smallSurrey is halving the funding for Claygate and Weybridge youth centres.  Given the cut is so severe, Surrey has given the youth centre management committees time to raise funds from other sources before withdrawing its own funding – although it will not wait for ever (or even a year).  If you are in a position to offer support then please get in touch.

How did this happen?

It began with the Conservative state administration reducing its contribution to
local government revenues.  This is particularly painful because local government in England (unlike in most countries) is heavily restricted in how it may raise its own funds.  Even the tax that it is allowed to raise is heavily controlled by the state.  For example, income tax, national insurance and VAT increase year on year with inflation but council tax decreases.  The state even proscribes local governments’ ability to keep council tax in line with inflation; a situation that would not be tolerated in America, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy or Spain.

Surrey has chosen to cut its youth services across the county by 11% in nominal terms.  It could have cut the service in all districts by the same amount.  Fortunately, the youth service took the view that it was time to examine need across the county afresh.

The primary directive is to ensure neets (young people not in education, employment or training) get into sustainable work and then to reduce neets to zero.  To disburse funds across the county according to need, the neets have to be located and various other indicators of deprivation have to be assembled.  The county used eleven indictors and determined that Elmbridge would have its funding increased by 6% – despite the general county cut of 11%.

Surrey took this analysis down to town level within Elmbridge itself to match the service provision with need.  This has meant that some towns, for example, Claygate and Weybridge had their service reduced and others, for example, Cobham had theirs increased.  Ditton and Oxshott have no provision from Surrey.

Surrey urged to fund 20 mph limits

20mphFor a background on why 20mph is so important see here.

The Surrey Liberal Democrats are calling on the Surrey administration to provide the necessary funding to implement 20 mph speed limits outside Surrey schools where requested by the school and the local community.

Introducing a 20mph limit on all our streets is probably the most important way of improving our health and quality of life.  Even more cost effective than spending more on NHS England!  The reason is simple.  If speeds on the streets are less than 20mph cycling and walking increases and as more people cycle and walk their life expectancy improves by six years on average.  Not only do people live longer but their quality of life improvise too.  All this can be done by a simple change in the speed limit law.

It is of upmost importance that children are safe going to and from school and 20 mph speed limits outside schools help to achieve this by reducing traffic speeds and improving road safety.  A reduced speed limit warns drivers that they need to slow down near a school and in general drivers do slow down.

In Mole Valley, Surrey introduced three trial 20 mph advisory limits outside schools and following the trial the 20 mph advisory limits were made permanent.  However, whilst making these trial 20 mph limits permanent, Surrey also decided not to roll-out the trial to cover the roads outside other schools in the district.

Lib Dem £28.6 million school boost

School childrenDisadvantaged primary school pupils in Surrey are set to receive £28.6 million to boost attainment, the Liberal Democrats have announced.

The Pupil Premium funding for 2015/16 will help teachers to support those children at most risk of falling behind their colleagues.  It means primary schools will receive £1,320 for every school pupil who has registered for free school meals at any time in the last six years.

Evidence shows that raising the attainment of pupils by the end of primary school has a direct impact on future exam results.

The pupil premium will get extra money to schools in Surrey,targeted at the children who need it most. The whole class benefits when fewer children are struggling.

Brooklands College Governor?

Brooklands College Web

Brooklands College is a further and higher education college located in our town. It is one of Surrey’s largest providers of vocational training and further and higher education. Its course offering is diverse, with students travelling long distances to benefit from the Brooklands College experience. The students leave with qualifications and skills that stand them in good stead for a place at university, a job or further professional or vocational studies to enhance their careers.

The college seeks to recruit associate and full governors to its governing body.

If you would be interested in bringing your community, business or professional experience to the college to help us in our work, the college would be pleased to hear from you. It is seeking governors with general skills and also have particular need for new governors with a strong financial or audit background, and governors with previous experience in further and higher education.

Please click here to download the leaflet and information pack about the college and the role of governor.

To apply please refer to the background provided in the information pack and send a letter of application and curriculum vitae to reach Ian Pocock, Clerk to the Governing Body, by Monday 23 February 2015.

Shortlisting will take place during the week beginning 23 February 2015 and interviews will take place on 11 March 2015.

Tories slash Surrey education funding by £250 million

HeathsideConservatives will cut the education budget by £253 million in Surrey by 2020 if they were in national government on their own, official research shows.

The Tories would be forced to slash local spending on schools,colleges, and nurseries to keep pace with George Osborne’s plan to drastically reduce spending.

The research, based on official House of Commons library figures, shows schools will bear the brunt of Conservative cuts but childcare, college and early years budgets would also be hit hard.

Unlike both Labour and the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats are committed to protecting cradle to college education spending.

Heathside Numbers Increase

Heathside

 

 

 

 

 

For background on Elmbridge school numbers click here.

Although the planning application is placed before Elmbridge as the planning authority, the fundamental issue is that of transport which falls under Surrey as the highways authority.

Surrey’s views have been sought and Surrey has raised no objections to the proposal – subject to a travel plan.  Should Elmbridge refuse planning permission on transport issues alone it would be against the advice of Surrey – as the highway authority.  In that case, Surrey – as the education authority – could appeal to the national government against the decision by Elmbridge.  It is very likely, albeit not certain, that the national government’s inspector would uphold an appeal.

At present, as I understand it, Heathside School has not updated its travel plan since 2009 but Surrey has requested that it be reviewed if this application is permitted.  The people at Surrey who audit travel plans can be contacted here.  The travel plan could do with more than a little stiffening.

You can read the Elmbridge planning officer’s report here: Heathside – Officer Report 2014

Surrey decides whether the proposal meets the policies in Elmbridge’s borough local plan. It cites the policies that it feels are relevant (the three below) and Surrey therefore believes these polcies are met by the proposal.

Com4
Planning permission will be granted for proposals for new educational establishments or extensions to existing facilities provided that: (i) the existing road network is capable of absorbing the level of traffic generated;
(ii) the site is conveniently accessible to all sections of the community by a choice of means of transport;
(iii) adequate provision is made for stopping and parking; and,
(iv) there would not be a significant adverse impact on local residents.

Mov4
All development proposals should minimise the impact of vehicle and traffic nuisance, particularly in residential areas and, as far as practicable, comply with current highway design standards.

Mov10
New development with the potential to generate significant cycle use will be permitted provided that provision is made for:-
(a) safe and convenient cycle access;
(b) secure cycle parking which accords with the adopted standards; and
(c) changing and shower facilities for employees.

Heathside School

Heathside

Surrey is seeking planning permission to raise Heathside’s school numbers. Originally Heathside School was given permission for 920 pupils but by 1996 it had increased its number, without planning permission, to 1352. On being challenged for this discrepancy it sought retrospective planning permission from the borough to increase its number in 2005. This was refused, again on transport grounds. Surrey appealed to the national government and the government planning inspector agreed to a new maximum number of pupils (the actual number attending the school at that time) on condition that the travel plan be reviewed every six months. This is a very weak condition as most travel plans are often lax in the beginning and are often unenforceable in any case.

This new planning application is caused by the need for more school places in the borough. Elmbridge has a secondary school age population of 12,000 pupils and that number is growing. Births in Elmbridge increased by 30% between 2002 and 2010 and the
borough plan indicates that up to 3,375 new homes are to be built between 2011
and 2026.  Yet Elmbridge has only four secondary schools – in Ditton (Hinchley Wood), Esher, Hersham (Rydens) and Weybridge (Heathside). It needs ten more schools of 840 pupils each (four classes in each year from years seven to thirteen).

Because of the taxation arrangements in Britain – unique in the developed world – Surrey relies on the national government for revenues to fund new schools. Unfortunately, this revenue has been reduced significantly in recent times and Surrey simply does not significant revenues of its own to build the schools it needs. So Cobham, Molesey and Walton do not have their own schools – putting pressure on those towns like Weybridge that do.

The cheap option is to increase the size of the present schools.  Heathside, originally a large 940 pupil school that has grown to 1,352 is set, should the application be successful, to increase to 1,475 pupils.

Elmbridge’s remit is purely related to the planning aspects of the project not the merits or otherwise of increasing the size of a school that has already outgrown its buildings.  This particular application will be decided on highway matters alone.

Interestingly, Elmbridge is not the competent authority when it comes to highway planning matters.  Surrey is the highway authority as well as the education authority.

The planning application is originated from Surrey which has a duty to school all of the children of the county.  The application arrives at Elmbridge which in turn asks Surrey, as highway authority, what it thinks of the application.

This puts Surrey in a difficult position – it is both poacher and gamekeeper.  Its decision must not just be one based on integrity but must be seen to be so by those most affected by the increase in numbers.

Any parent who has been anxious about their child’s school place will understand the massive pressure that Surrey is under to deliver those classroom places.

The Elmbridge planning application number is 2014/3765 and details can be found here.

Elmbridge Museum

Museum Discovery box website

New school membership scheme launched.  As part of its new services, Elmbridge Museum offers an exciting range of learning opportunities for local schools and community groups.

Over the last few months, Elmbridge Museum’s learning team has been meeting with teachers from across Surrey to talk to them about their outreach sessions and how the museum collection of over 40,000 objects can enrich learning in their schools. The teachers’ feedback has been invaluable to help tailor and redevelop the museum learning sessions and discovery boxes on a wide range of topics.

Elmbridge Museum is now pleased to announce its new school membership scheme to support schools in the delivery of the new curriculum. Schools that subscribe to this great value scheme will have access to the museum’s selection of interactive workshops and discovery boxes on a variety of topics.

For an annual fee of £165, the membership scheme includes:

  • Three 1.5 hour outreach sessions
  • The loan of six discovery boxes
  • One assembly
  • Three Continuous Professional Development sessions

The learning team at Elmbridge Museum is looking forward to expanding the schools service so that all local children can have access to its local history through innovative and interactive sessions that engage them in learning through the wonderful artifacts in the collection.

The team is currently developing new sessions linked to the changes in the national curriculum and are very keen to work in partnership with local schools to meet their needs and requirements as closely as possible. They value input from teachers when planning their sessions and to achieve this, they are organising a focus group with teachers for the autumn term. This session will provide a great opportunity for primary school teachers to share their opinions on how museums can best support their teaching practice.

For further information, visit the website, email ebcmuseum@elmbridge.gov.uk  or contact the museum on 01372 474568.

No room for Weybridge children

ClassroomIt happened to my children so I completely understand how Weybridge parents feel when Surrey tells them that there are no school places for their children in the town.

In my time, it was nine children from Manby Lodge who were refused a place in Weybridge and were offered places in Cobham, Hersham or Byfleet instead.

Surrey was adamant that their duty was only to provide a school place but not to provide a school place in Weybridge. We, the parents, were equally adamant that a town with four junior schools should be able to take in every child living in Weybridge.  St James Primary School kindly offered a home to all nine children by going over the 30 pupil per class limit. Surrey rightly acquiesced.

Now the problem is even bigger and harder to solve but it is definitely solvable.  Apparently, there are 26 children in need of a place in a Weybridge school in September 2014.  The most practical option, in my view, is for St James to have another bulge year for year threes in 2014.  There is room for a new class on the site but the hall, although recently expanded, would be under pressure – no more so than Heathside hall is already.

If your child is in the position in 2014 or if you support the policy that Weybridge children should be schooled (if they wish) in Weybridge then please sign the petition here.

Recently Surrey has delegated more powers to its Elmbridge local committee and there is a meeting on 20 June 2014.  I plan to raise the matter there – if it is not solve by then.

For more information on the planning for Elmbridge school places click here.

Watch this space.