The case of the missing (academy schools) students just prior to exams … aka – cheating!

“Some of England’s most influential academy chains are facing fresh questions over the number of children disappearing from their classrooms in the run-up to GCSEs, following a new statistical analysis of official figures.

The same four academy chains have the highest numbers of 15- 16-year-olds leaving their schools in both of the last two academic years. In some cases, two pupils are disappearing from the rolls for every class of 30. Some local authorities are also approaching these figures for dropouts.

Fears have been increasing that some schools are “offrolling” – getting rid of students who could do badly in their exams – in an effort to boost their league table position.

The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, is among those voicing concern. The inspectorate has yet to find a way to differentiate offrolling from cases where schools have acted in the best interests of children, but it has started to gather its own data.

Education Guardian looked at England’s 50 largest academy trusts and 50 largest local education authorities, and compared the number of pupils in year 11 in 2017-18 – the students counted when GCSE results are published – to the number in year 10, a year earlier.

The findings reveal a consistent pattern in some chains of year groups shrinking substantially. The same four trusts fill the top four places in our table (below) on 2017-18 data and on data for 2016-17. The trend of disappearing pupils appears to be happening at a higher rate in the academies sector. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/nov/06/academy-trusts-gcse-students-disappearing-prior-to-exams

Seaton heritage building – no stay of execution

(photos: Midweek Herald)

Word reaches Owl that, despite a last-minute attempt by Seaton Town Council to delay the auction of the Seaton beach searchlight building until alternative ideas for its use can be explored, EDDC CEO Mark Williams has decided it will go ahead to public auction tomorrow.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/historic-seafront-building-used-detect-2169000

Swire wants planning officers to be accredited yearly while a Tory aesthetic political philosoper tries to improve building design!

One should see this in context.

1. This government refused to support CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) and it was subsumed into the charitable “Design Council”. Design Council CABE, is intended to operate as a “self-sustaining” business ie no support from the government.

2. NOW the government is worried about all the developer-led atrocities of design and building and needs to be seen to be sort-of doing something (preferably something on the cheap).

3. The person Swire refers to effusively – Sir Roger Scruton – is described thus in Wikipedia:

“Sir Roger Vernon Scruton FBA FRSL is an English philosopher and writer who specialises in aesthetics and political philosophy, particularly in the furtherance of traditionalist conservative views.”

4. Swire is positioning himself for a general election – expect more of this sort of thing!

Question from Swire:

“I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on the establishment of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission and the inspired choice of Sir Roger Scruton as the chairman, but, first, does my right hon. Friend not agree that this will only have any teeth if we can get the volume house builders to buy into it? Secondly, I think that the commission should be extended to look at the quality and the variable advice often given by local planning officers and at a full accreditation scheme for those planning officers on an annual basis to refresh them.”

Response from James BrokenshireJames Brokenshire The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government:

I certainly want the new commission to drive quality in the built environment, which is at the heart of what my right hon. Friend said. If we do that, we can speed up this process and get greater support and consent from the public in building the homes that our country needs. I therefore think that the house builders should very much embrace this.”

Exmouth infrastructure will not support 120 new homes says town council

“Exmouth’s infrastructure cannot support new 120 home development, town council claims.

The town council’s planning committee has refused to support a full application made by Taylor Wimpey for land at Pankhurst Close, Littleham.

At the meeting, councillors raised concerns about the impact the development could have on ‘already busy’ roads surrounding the site.

Councillors voted to object to the proposal which includes the associated demolition of a disused industrial building.

They argued there was inadequate infrastructure to support it and that it would represent a loss of employment land.

Councillor Fred Caygill, who is the deputy chairman of the committee, said the developer would be ‘better served’ combining this project with its nearby Plumb Park site where more than 260 homes are currently being built.

He added: “If this development was to go ahead, I feel it would be better served if it joined up with Plumb Park so you had a continuous through-route so at least you’ve got access for emergency vehicles .

“You’ve got a traffic flow system rather than bottle necks.

“A lot of people who buy houses these days are both working with two cars and as we know a lot of employment is into Exeter and surrounding industrial estates.

“We’ve got lots of industry in terms of estates so there is a considerable amount of people moving into the area.

“The traffic system is going to get worse and also the parking within that estate.

“I feel a through-road will be better.”

Cllr Brian Toye said this development would only put more ‘stress’ on the area’s existing infrastructure.

“This does nothing to address the problem with traffic we have in Littleham Road,” he said.

“The problem is people are going to find rat-runs through the estates to get up to the new Dinan Way extension.”

Cllr Maddie Chapman also raised concerns about the impact of removing asbestos from the site.

She said it should be moved especially during the day.

“It should be at a quiet time, late evening, and take it off site,” she said.

A final decision on the application will be made at a later date, yet to be confirmed by the planning authority, East Devon District Council.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/council-opposes-plan-for-120-homes-in-pankhurst-close-1-5766553

Exmouth – road to nowhere?

“Work is set to begin on phase one of the Exmouth seafront regeneration scheme this month after East Devon District Council (EDDC) cabinet gave its approval despite not having ‘legal commitment’ from Grenadier Estates for ‘phase two’.

The developer, which is planning to begin construction on a new watersports centre in spring 2019, says it is ‘committed and on schedule’.

Councillors at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday (October 31) were told there were ‘verbal assurances’ from Grenadier but that waiting any longer for a written commitment would result in works on the road, which had originally been expected to begin in September, being put back until next summer. Members were told the council had sought independent commercial advice in case Grenadier decided to pull out.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Megan Armstrong warned that verbal assurances are not good enough, adding: “The council is incurring costs without Grenadier being legally committed and if the council is willing to spend all this money on possibly a road to nowhere then so be it but I actually despair of this council making this decision.”

However, councillor Jill Elson said: “We have already incurred costs of £63,000 and if we delay any more we will be adding another £63,000 and we need a better car park.

“I believe we should be saying to Grenadier we are pushing to get on and we want this done in the winter and don’t want it done in the summer.

“I think it would be horrendous in the summer, not only for the tourist industry but there will be a health and safety issue for members of the public.”

Councillor Ian Thomas, cabinet committee chairman and leader of EDDC, said: “It’s incredibly important that we keep the Exmouth regeneration programme moving than allowing it to stagnate.

“It’s important that building works aren’t scheduled in the middle of the summer season and the disruption it will cause on the seafront in Exmouth.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/exmouth-seafront-road-work-set-to-start-1-5766519