South Gloucestershire’s Conservative leader is being criticised for branding those who believe a recent BBC2 documentary exposing school pressures as “naïve”. The six-part School series was filmed over a year in three South Gloucestershire schools and has raised a national debate about the stresses that state schools face.
At yesterday’s Council meeting, Labour’s education spokesperson asked the Council’s leader for his response to public concern about the painful financial decisions that schools are having to make and was told that
‘to take this TV series completely at face value is naïve.’
Councillor Ian Boulton, who represents Staple Hill where many young people attend Mangotsfield, one of the schools showcased in the documentary, criticised the “naïve” comment.
Councillor Boulton says:
“Parents, students and staff who have first-hand experience of our schools and the financial pressures they face regularly talk to me about their concerns. Conversations I have had, and messages that have been sent to me, about the School series confirm that the programmes have sensitively and accurately reflected the experiences of too many stakeholders within our local education system.
I think it inaccurate and rude to dismiss my residents and our school staff as ‘naïve’, and it betrays a rather complacent attitude to very real problems.”
Opposition councillors tried to get the Council to adopt a motion to back 58 head teachers who have published a report outlining the impact of school underfunding, and to instruct the Council to lobby for urgent additional funding. However, the Conservatives used their majority to re-word the statement downplaying the number of head teachers complaining, commending the Council’s initiatives and praising their own diligence.
Labour abstained on this new wording as it backed the 58 head teachers but could not support the Tory spin.
Councillor Gareth Manson, Labour’s education lead, comments:
“Instead of focussing on the crisis, and parents’ and teachers’ concerns, the Conservative Administration has instead chosen to pat itself on the back. Their supposed diligent campaigning is clearly failing, as South Gloucestershire remains bottom of their government’s funding table.
What we need is concerted action, not self congratulation. Our pupils, parents and school staff deserve a lot better.”
13 December 2018