Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A democratic challenge to Oasis and Tauheedul

WFDSS has today written to both Oasis Community Learning and Tauheedul Free Schools asking them to set out for the local community what steps they will be taking to hold a meaningful public consultation in the borough.
The questions we ask below relate to the normal expectations on any body that is expected to hold a consultation and are particularly relevant to those who are applying to run a public service in return for public funding.
This is even more important given the fact that as this website has shown, there are significant and substantial concerns about the impact of these proposals on the local community, from parents, teachers , local councillors and from the local MP. 
We believe that Oasis and Tauheedul must show that they take these concerns seriously by holding a public, transparent and meaningful consultation along the lines laid out below.
We are writing and publishing this open letter to you further to your application to set up an additional ‘Free School’ in Waltham Forest.

We are an organisation of local parents, teachers and other residents of Waltham Forest called Waltham Forest Defend State Schools. We came together to defend and promote our community schools and to promote a better understanding in the borough of the issues around proposals to build new Free Schools and to convert community schools to Academies.

This letter asks you to set out for the people of Waltham Forest the steps you will be taking to undertake a wide and meaningful consultation to ensure that your proposal properly reflects the needs of the people of the borough.

Under section 10 of the Academies Act, you have a duty to consult such persons as you think appropriate. We are sure that you would agree with us that a list of the appropriate persons in the case of a new school in Waltham Forest would contain, as a minimum, the local authority, parents and teachers at all schools which might potentially be affected by your proposal, together with the general public in the borough.

As you will be aware, in order to be lawful, a consultation must comply with the following overarching obligations:

1. Consultation must take place at a time when the proposals are at a formative stage

2. The proposer must give sufficient reasons for its proposals to allow consultees to understand them and respond to them properly.

3. Consulters must give sufficient time for responses to be made and considered.

4. Responses must be conscientiously taken into account in finalising the decision.

In order to ensure that your proposals are subjected to appropriate democratic scrutiny, we are calling on you to set out for us how you intend to do this. Specifically, we are calling on you to provide the following information:

Prior to submitting your initial proposal to the DfE:

  • what steps did you take to consult with the Local Authority in Waltham Forest and neighbouring boroughs that might be affected by your proposal?
  • What steps did you take to consult the headteachers and teachers representative bodies in schools in Waltham Forest and neighbouring boroughs?
  • What steps were taken to consult with parents in the borough?
  • When will the results of these consultations be made public?

Subsequent to submitting your initial proposal to the DfE:

· What is your timetable for publishing your full proposal and consulting on it, prior to submitting a final proposal to the DfE?

  • What are your plans for consulting with the following: the Local Authority, headteachers and the representative organisations of teachers in schools in Waltham Forest and neighbouring boroughs; parents at schools which might be affected by your proposal and the general public in the borough?
  • What will be the timetable for the submission of responses to this consultation?
  • What are your plans for publishing the results of the consultation and showing that you have given reasonable consideration of the variety of responses you receive, prior to submitting to the DfE?

We are sure that you would want to demonstrate both to the people of Waltham Forest and the Education Secretary, who must show that he has considered the impact of your proposal, that you have fully and transparently consulted in a manner that is appropriate to an organisation which intends to receive public funding.

We look forward to your response as soon as possible, and in any case not later than 10 May.

Jonathan White

Scarlet Harris

Mark Holding

Tom Davies

Waltham Forest Defend State Schools
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