Sunday, 11 November 2007


We've pretty much been consulting on and off for over two years, but it's really key now. One of the problems with the process is that during the competition phase, where we had two bidders, we couldn't consult very much at all because of "commercial confidence" i.e. not being able to risk one bidder finding out what the other was doing. This has meant that, although over a year ago we met with parents, staff, students to ask what they would like, it's only now that we can show the final proposals to them and get their feedback. We are, as usual, working on a very tight timetable and governors are absolutely clear, and quite rightly, that they won't approve entry into BSF until they feel we have had full consultation with stakeholder groups.

So far we have had:
  • A meeting with student council representatives with a particular focus on landscaping.
  • A parent & community consultation evening.
  • A staff drop-in session.
  • The first of many individual meetings with Heads of Department.
  • A support staff meeting with a BSF focus.
  • Plans displayed in the foyer and me pouncing on any students who make the mistake of showing too much interest. My lovely laminated explanatory labels didn't even last a day, so verbal explanations it has to be!

Frankly the list looks long, but we'll have to do more. Staff consultation's going well, with most staff happy (or not too unhappy) with what they're getting. Problems have arisen, but they're resolvable so far. There will, as ever, have to be compromises though.

We need more student consultation. We need to know that what the students suggested was listened to and acted upon, and this hasn't been demonstrated yet. I don't want to do lipservice constulation, particularly with the students. Their ideas were good and reasonable and they're a great group.

We definitely need another parent and community evening, and we've got one pencilled in for November 22nd. I guess during our first consultation evening we had around 30 people attending which, given that we did an invite for each student to take home, followed it up by text and leafleted local homes (which gave me renewed admiration for those who do that for a living), I thought was low. The major cause of controversy here were the levels of disruption that would be caused during building works. I guess for many parents their children will be hit by over two years of disruption, then leave and won't be around to enjoy the benefits. Even taking that into account, though, the parents were shown plans that even the school thinks are too disruptive and unworkable, and we need to go back to them with new plans. You've also got to feel for the residents of Clissold Rd who've had years of the inconvenience caused by construction works on the Leisure Centre. This finally comes to a halt, they get a few months of peace and in rumble the BSF trucks. We absolutely need to do our best to minimise disruption for them, because generally they're very supportive.

Again, writing this makes me realise how much ground needs to be covered in such a short space of time. Will we do it? Watch this space.

Meeting Count 2/11/07 - 9/11/07 - EIGHT (plus two hours on BSF with the prospective Headteachers, but I won't count that)

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