Letters: Daventry’s Brain Drain.

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This week we have been inundated with letters responding to our splash on the exodus of primary school children to secondary schools outside the town. Here is a selection of some of the best.

Schools

What to do about town brain drain?

We read with interest last week your report on the concerns about secondary education in Daventry and also your editorial which summarised very well how it has deteriorated over the past 20 years.

That is not to say it was particularly good then, but there can be no doubt that the decision to take sixth forms out of the schools proved disastrous.

It has never been clear why it happened and perhaps we should worry about the decisions being made now behind closed doors in a county that has a very poor record of educational achievement in schools.

To recover from the situation as it is now will be extremely difficult. Certainly firm plans need to be in place to provide the necessary educational infrastructure to support the town expansion. An essential requirement will be the recruitment of high quality teachers and this will only be achieved if they can be convinced the plans for schools are good and include the provision of adequate facilities.

As things stand it is difficult to believe any such plans exist when the council appeared to think that it was quite reasonable to allow the Grange College leave its current building and replace it with yet more homes.

This was built less than 40 years ago, has excellent playing fields, and is an ideal site for a secondary school on the south side of town close to the town centre.

Both our children were educated at the Grange Comprehensive when it first opened and we firmly believe, unlike Mr Heaton-Harris, that good schools are a very major factor if the town expansion is to be successful.

Colin & Val Wiseman

Grovelands, Daventry


It was really disheartening to read your headlines as it must have been for parents and pupils at the schools. As you said in your editorial comment the Tertiary College was to transform education in Daventry when there was only 150 pupils staying in education post 16 in the 1980s. It was to raise expectations and aspirations in the secondary schools.

Unlike the primary sector I do wonder what support the schools get from the parents, how many attend parents evenings and what are the parent’s aspirations for the children’s future?

I regret that it is the parents who have high expectations for their children choose alternative schools.

You have opened up the debate and I wait with interest the suggestions for a solution to this serious issue.

Gina King

via email

‘We have been told ad nauseum the benefits of the proposed changes. Unfortunately, many of us do not believe them. The people telling us have placed Northamptonshire’s educational performance 94th in a field of 96.

‘The truth is a tragedy in three acts, which would see the destruction of the town’s secondary schools.

‘They seem quite prepared to ignore the wishes of local parents,teachers and pupils.’

The above are quotations from letters which I wrote to your paper about 20 years ago, when Cllr Gina Ogden and her education committee decided to scrap the Grange Secondary school and all sixth forms.

Last week’s headlines and your editorial made very familiar reading. It is ironic that the present MP and council leader are now admitting their party’s policies have led to the great brain drain and wonder what to do about it.

The simple answer is to provide exam results at Daventry schools which are better than,or at least equal to, their rivals out of town. This point was made,clearly, in last week’s editorial. How this is done is not simple. As a minimum, I suggest a few proposals, for a start.

Those making teaching appointments, such as LEA personnel and governors, need to have their credentials for this task independently assessed. A study made to find a better method of recruitment to that currently in use. This is particularly important with respect to heads and senior support teachers. An examination of inducements that can be offered to perceived better teachers. Clarification of disciplinary requirements and frequent testing/examinations. There is certainly no “quick fix” and sadly, I do not expect to see the trend reversed in my life time

Michael Jeanes

Thirlmere Close,
Daventry

It is sad to see the leader of the district council, Chris Millar, and our MP, Chris Heaton-Harris, expressing their lack of confidence in local schools.

Since their party has controlled the Government, the county council and the district council for several years, I wonder whose fault that is?

Your article quotes the acting principal of DSLV as saying that Daventry has a disadvantage because it lacks a grammar school tradition.

What a shame that the current Government has refused to change the law to allow new grammar schools to be built!

Your article says Cllr Millar reckons we need better schools “as part of the package” to attract people to live in Daventry. We are told that Mr Heaton-Harris reckons our schools are just one small part of the workings of our local economy. They have both missed the point. This is not just about the local economy. We need good schools for the sake of the life chances of our children and young people.

Both of the secondary schools in Daventry have indeed had serious problems. However, their new leaders are making strenuous efforts to improve them. I believe we, as community leaders, should be supporting those efforts, and not sniping from the sidelines. We owe that much to the children and young people.

I firmly believe both the Parker Academy and DSLV really can be great schools. Let’s give their leaders the support they need to make it a reality.

Adam Collyer

County councillor, 
Daventry West

Tree festival

Thank you to our supporters

I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in the Christmas Tree Festival at Holy Cross Church and a special thank you to the Gusher for the coverage you gave us.

Congratulations to Jeeves The Barbers, the Church Choir and 4th Daventry Cub Scouts who were all voted the best in their sections.

Mary Adams

Holy Cross Church,

Daventry

Development

Residents are not happy with plans

I write in response to the article published in last week’s paper regarding the redevelopment of the 101 hotel on Warwick Street.

I was dismayed to read Cllrs Over and Morgan were vocally supportive of such a scheme and went further to express that there had been no objections.

At no point in time has either councillor consulted with individuals to my knowledge regarding the proposed plan.

I can only assume they were referring to the formal objection process which, given residents only received letters on December 21 and had the little matter of Christmas in between, there is little surprise that no formal objections had been received by the time you went to print. I can assure you though that objections have been raised by local residents and many attended the town council meeting held on January 8 to voice their objections and concerns.

Suffice to say I am very disappointed that my local councillors, who are supposed to represent me, have publicly announced support for a scheme which adds no value to our locality, will impact upon our quality of life and would produce buildings that do not merge with the surrounding area, would be intrusive to the surrounding homes and would create far more issues than benefits.

I am sure the councillors would be less supportive were they to be constructed immediately behind their own back yards. Hopefully Cllrs Over and Morgan may now take some notice of the people they are supposed to represent.

Simon Merriman

Castle Hill, Daventry