Our town is a very nice town
News 3 April 2015
TOUGH AS NAILS
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Education, Education, Education
There is a North Somerset secondary school which teaches science with no qualified teacher, a hustings meeting at Nailsea heard on Wednesday evening.
The public meeting entitled Education: Success For All Children was called to discuss the performance of the coalition government in the run up to the general election on Thursday, May 7.
Portishead resident and retired physics teacher Terry Lester chaired the meeting organised by North Somerset Labour Party to look at ways ‘to give all children an excellent education and teachers the respect they deserve’.
The invited speakers were National Union of Teachers south west representative and Clevedon Community School chemistry teacher Anne Lemon, North Somerset NUT secretary Jon Reddiford who is head of Nailsea School sixth form and the Labour Party North Somerset constituency candidate doctor Greg Chambers.
Ms Lemon talked about the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) which is dedicated to seeking private ownership of the education system and backed by a number of multinational corporations including Apple, Boeing, Excel, Microsoft and Pearson PLC the owners of the Financial Times.
One step further than faith schools and academies they will operate just to make a profit, she said.
Changes in the profession have included moving the retirement age to 69-70 years, allowing unqualified teachers in the classroom and to plan lessons, and the removal of pay scales which has seen the salaries of teachers drop by 16 per cent in real terms.
As a science teacher she worried about growing older and trying to keep up with 30 Year 7 students all conducting experiments involving lit Bunsen burners in a school lab.
Ms Lemon said some schools are effectively ‘abandoning’ less able children with little hope of passing academic exams in a system where teachers pay is linked to exam results in a ‘target driven culture’.
With an average 64 hour working week it is no wonder 40 per cent of newly qualified teachers are walking away from the profession in their first year, she said.
With the fear of more ‘severe’ cuts in the pipeline the latest ‘innovations’ include buying ‘ready prepared lessons off the shelf’ and national tests for four-year-olds to be used to determine what grades they will achieve at GCSEs!
Ms Lemon said: “Labelled at four-years-old, absolutely atrocious – I don’t think this is progress.
“In Finland children play until they are six and then they learn to read very quickly.”
Mr Reddiford told that half of all secondary schools in North Somerset are going through redundancy consultations which is five of the 10 in the district.
He said: “We are already on the edge of a funding crisis and unless something is done it is simply going to get worse.
“One of the Weston-super-Mare secondary schools has a science department without one qualified science teacher.”
In September there will be major curriculum reforms when exams will be graded by numbers and not A-Cs but teachers still haven’t got notification of all the changes.
Dr Chambers said: “The Labour Party is committed to maintaining the education budget and only allowing qualified teachers to teach.
“We also plan to introduce a technical baccalaureate and reduce university fees to £6,000.”
Nailsea benefitted under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) government investment programme with its new £32 million building.
Nailsea School is a fantastic place to work and it doesn’t have the maintenance and energy costs that others have to factor into their budgets, said Mr Reddiford.
He added: “I have been to other secondary schools in North Somerset where I have not only seen peeling paint but huge gaps between walls and windows.
“There is no doubt that a better learning environment is going to help students learn and stop vandalism and graffiti.”
The meeting concluded with calls for the end of ‘charitable’ status for private schools and the reintroduction of schools coming under local authority control.
The panel pictured below is from left Jon Reddiford, Greg Chambers, Anne Lemon and Terri Lester.
13 votes for a mention
No North Somerset hostelry has made the very best list in The Good Pub Guide this year.
The closest are two in Dorset the New Inn at Cerne Abbas and the Square & Compass at Worth Matravers, Dorset.
But this seems a bit far to travel for a pint,
However, the wine pub of the year is only 44 miles as the crow flies but more than an hour in the car.
It is called Woods at Dulverton in Somerset.
But with the minimal of customer votes some pubs in Nailsea and nearby did get a mention.
Deservedly top of the locals in our area is the Black Horse at Clapton-in-Gordano.
It attracted 179 votes.
The Old Barn at Wraxall came second with 72 votes followed by the Battleaxes with 49 votes.
The George at Backwell is fourth on 70 votes, Sawyers Arms with 59 and even The Old Farmhouse gets a mention with just 13 votes!
Personally I think the Ring O’Bells and The Atrium should be up there.
What do you think?
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Dinner 6-9.30pm Monday to Thursday, 6-10pm Friday and Saturday and traditional Sunday lunch noon-4pm
Well-stocked wine cellar with fine selection of white and red
Butcombe beer on tap
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Going to school in September
Fears that Nailsea reception classes could be oversubscribed this September have proved unfounded.
However there are only 10 places left in the town for infant children starting school in 2015.
But at Portishead and Long Ashton it is a different story
Three children from both communities didn’t get into a local school
A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “All children from Portishead got one of their preferences or a place in the town bar three children who have been offered places at Crockerne C of E Primary School in neighbouring Pill.
“And again in Long Ashton three children have been offered places at either Kingshill Church School, Nailsea; or the village schools at Wraxall or Dundry.”
North Somerset Council released on Thursday morning ‘national reception offer day’ its statistics for all on-time applications for school places.
It shows that 86 per cent of applicants have been allocated a place at their first preference school, 6.7 per cent their second and 2.8 per cent their third.
And 95.5 per cent received one of their three preferences.
Throughout the district only 111 children aged three to four-years out of 2,463 applications have not been offered any of their preferences but all children have been allocated a place as an infant school.
Last year 86.9 per cent of application got their first preference, with 94.9 per getting one of their first three choices leaving 118 with no preference met.
The children allocated places were all born between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011 and will be starting a primary or infant school this year.
All four Nailsea infant schools are full or nearly full.
• Golden Valley Primary School has allocated all its 60 places. The Nailsea Park school has 415 children aged four to 11 years and got an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted in March 2014;
• Hannah More Infant School has allocated 59 of its 60 places. The Whiteoak Way school has room for 180 pupils aged four to seven and is in a federation sharing a head teacher with next door Grove Junior School. In April 2014 it was given a very ‘good’ Ofsted report;
• Kingshill Church School has only allocated 21 of its 30 places but since the register closed it has been given a ‘glowing’ Ofsted report which should see parents giving it a more favourable consideration in the future. Prior to becoming a Bath and Wells Multi Academy Trust Kingshill Church School it had an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating in February 2013. It currently has 156 pupils aged four to 11 and a ‘substantive’ head teacher; and
• St Francis RC Primary School has allocated all of its 30 reception places. This Station Road school was given an ‘outstanding’ in March 2009 and has 194 children aged four-11 on roll.
All the state infant schools in the neighbouring villages of Backwell, Flax Bourton, Tickenham and Wraxall filled their reception allocation.
Demographically school numbers in Nailsea have been falling in recent years in line with the ageing population and most think this is a trend that will continue.