Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Shame on Serco and the Schools’ Adjudicator

with 6 comments

This time last week, everything was clear in my mind.

As the parent of a Year 6 pupil, I had weighed up the pros and cons of each available secondary school; done the research; deconstructed the “lies, damn lies and statistics” over GCSE results etc; spent a total of ten hours walking around the establishments.

As a family, we’d discussed what would be good for our daughter. Our daughter said what her preferred options were. There were negotiations, UN-style.

But, with a week to go before the secondary preference forms (note the word “preference”. There is no parental “choice”), Serco, the organisation that runs education services in Walsall dropped a bombshell.

Thousands of us – all parents of Year 6 children in Walsall  – received a letter last Saturday to tell us that a rather important change had been made to one school’s admission policy.

One week before our forms have to be handed in.

Thanks to the Schools Adjudicator, the admission criteria for one secondary school – Shire Oak School – had been changed with immediate effect.

The adjudicator, Dr Elizabeth Passmore, agreed with objectors from a nearby primary school in neighbouring Staffordshire that the Shire Oak’s primary partner status did not pass muster.

Under the partnership, Shire Oak works with ten primary schools in the borough, helping with maths and science projects, getting youngsters from year 5 and up engaged in the subjects.

It is a partnership – not a feeder arrangement. While there were never any guarantees that those children from the partner schools would gain a place there, they did have an advantage because primary partner school was part of the admissions criteria.  It was criterion four – above the distance criterion that most schools impose.

But Dr Passmore – for a myriad reasons – made a determination that the criterion must not stand and must be removed this year. The decision advantages approximately 20 children at the school that appealed against the decision to the detriment of the 400+ children in the partnership.

It means for those of us who were including the school as one of the five preferences, we are now significantly disadvantaged. I – and many of my friends – do live outside of the catchment area (children on average live 2.132 miles from the school, as the crow flies).

The removal of this criterion now means we have much less chance of getting our children to this school.

Serco disagrees.

“No allocations have been made and no pupils will be disadvantaged by the decision taken by the Schools Adjudicator. The adjudicator’s decision is final and relates to the admission arrangements for Shire Oak College only, the admission arrangements for other Walsall schools are unaffected and remain unchanged,” said a spokesman.

Everyone disagrees with the fact that pupils will not be disadvantaged – the headteacher of Shire Oak, the headteachers of the primary schools affected, the parents and the local councillors all believe that there are significant numbers of children whose chances have been depleted because of the determination.

If the decision were not bad enough, parents have had to deal with Serco about this. At no point did the organisation, which won a 12-year contract to run education services in Walsall, think it a good idea to tell parents about the appeal that was lodged in July.

This was done, said Avril Walton, assistant managing director, because they did not want to “confuse” and “upset” parents unnecessarily.

Most of the time, the Schools Adjudicator determines no change when an appeal is lodged, she said. If we had been concerned about this, we might not have handed in our preference forms in on time.

This attitude has been cricitised severely by parents – including me – who have accused Serco of having treated them with contempt over the issue.

Even the adjudicator seems to have assumed that those affected by the outcome would have been informed.

Serco stands accused of distancing itself from this decision, which can only be overturned by judicial review or going to the Ombudsman, and failing to understand how parents might feel.

Its cavalier attitude towards the parents has deeply concerned many of us and has compounded the decision made by the adjudicator.

While the adjudicator has wrecked the chances of our children getting places at this school, the company running the education in the borough of Walsall has stood by without thinking of the consequences.

Shame on both of them.


Written by CommonPeople

October 24, 2009 at 8:45 am

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I truly wanted to write a brief message in order to

    thank you for these nice items you are writing here.
    My time intensive internet investigation has at

    the end of the day been paid with

    excellent insight to go over with my partners.
    I ‘d repeat that we website visitors actually are really lucky to dwell in a magnificent

    community with many brilliant professionals with helpful methods. I feel

    very much privileged to

    have discovered your website page and look forward to really more cool minutes reading here. Thank you once more for



    April 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

  2. Бандеровцы – герои Украины?

    “В годы Второй мировой войны десятки тысяч участников национального освободительного движения совершили героический подвиг, отстаивая независимость Украины. Среди них – множество воинов Украинской повстанческой армии. С лозунгом «Свобода или смерть!» они уверенно шли в бой, отдавали свою жизнь во имя Родины”. “Слава Украинской повстанческой армии уже стала легендой, которая золотыми буквами вписана на скрижалях истории нашего государства и навсегда останется в памяти народа”, – сказал Ющенко в поздравлении участников украинского освободительного движения с 64-й годовщиной создания Украинской повстанческой армии (УПА).

    С приходом к власти президента Виктора Ющенко на Украине активизировались сторонники официального признания националистических формирований Организации украинских националистов-Украинской повстанческой армии (ОУН-УПА).

    Главными сторонниками признания заслуг “оуновцев”, к которым, как известно, принадлежал и Степан Бандера, являются активисты Украинской национальной ассамблеи-Украинской национальной самообороны (УНА-УНСО).

    Против признания националистов воюющей стороной в Второй мировой войне и борцами за независимость Украины выступают коммунисты, а также сторонники Натальи Витренко.

    Между ними и активистами УНА-УНСО не раз возникали стычки, в том числе во время традиционных октябрьских маршей в поддержку ОУН-УПА. Осенью 2006 года появились сообщения, что президент Ющенко даст “оуновцам” официальный статус своим указом.

    Президент Украины Виктор Ющенко поздравил участников украинского освободительного движения по случаю 64-й годовщины создания Украинской повстанческой армии.

    “В годы Второй мировой войны десятки тысяч участников национального освободительного движения совершили героический подвиг, отстаивая независимость Украины. Среди них – многочисленные воины Украинской повстанческой армии. С лозунгом “Свобода или смерть!” они уверенно шли в бой, отдавали свою жизнь во имя Родины”, – говорится в поздравлении президента, распространенном его пресс-службой.

    “Вас, дорогие ветераны освободительного движения, не сломали ни долгие годы изматывающей борьбы, ни сталинские репрессии. В самые тяжелые времена вы оставались под покровом и защитой Пресвятой Богородицы, черпали силы из не иссякающего колодца – Украинской национальной идеи. Мы склоняем головы перед вашим мужеством и силой духа”, – говорится в поздравлении.
    [url=http://onesticket.ru/][color=#E4F4FE] [/color][/url]


    November 28, 2013 at 9:13 am

  3. Outstanding post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Bless you!

  4. Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological world all is available on net?

  5. Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo
    News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo
    News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!

    Appreciate it

    court dna tests

    September 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm

  6. Hi! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Tx!
    Just wanted to say keep up the excellent job!


    September 19, 2014 at 12:43 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: