Sunday 31 March 2013

e-mail re: play areas from an 11 year old

So impressed to have received an email today from an 11 year old child regarding play areas following our recent newsletter that is now being delivered ahead of the Norfolk County Council elections, email as follows;

"Dear Brenda & Terry,
My name is ****** and I am writing to you on my mums email. I am 11 years old and I have read your leaflet today about the issues around Thetford and I would like you to hear my view:

My view is on the Canons Walk park: it is a mess. There is graffiti on everything and there are smashed bottles and litter everywhere. Also, there was a little girl that got her foot stuck under the round-about while it was going round and she got hurt. I think we should put in new play-ground equipment and also put in security cameras so it cannot be ruined by litter, graffiti and lots of different things. By doing this it can keep children safe and it will stop them being hurt by the old equipment and the litter. I hope this will be put into thought for the safety of all of the children. Regards, ****"

My response as follows;

Dear ***,

Firstly, may I just say how impressed I am that you have taken the time to message myself and Brenda regarding your concerns about the Canons Walk play area. We found your email to be really interesting and we agree with you that the play area needs to be improved so that young people such as yourself have somewhere that they can play safely. 

Myself and Brenda are both members of the Thetford Town Council Amenities Committee which is responsible for play areas and open spaces generally and we are working to try and improve all play areas in Thetford - including the one at Canons Walk. Most play areas are still the responsibility of Breckland Council so the situation is quite complicated unfortunately. 

We hope to soon be able to start talking to young people that live in the area about what sort of play-ground they would like. Maybe we could talk to yourself and some friends about your thoughts in the future? have you spoken to staff at the Meet Up Cafe about your thoughts as they may be able to help you with this?

Many thanks once again for your email.

Councillor Terry Jermy

Tuesday 26 March 2013

A touch of kindness

I received this hand delivered letter at my house today - must confess it really took me by surprise - a random act of kindness. Being a Councillor can at times be very frustrating (a lot of the time in fact), you often feel that you are not getting anywhere and that you are not 'making a difference' but acts like this really do make it all worth it - to know that you may actually be doing something right and helping others. Thank-you to the person concerned.

Monday 25 March 2013

Education; Your thoughts and concerns....

Over the next two weeks, I will be highlighting some of the key areas of all our lives that Norfolk County Council are responsible for. I want to get your feedback on these subjects and outline my thoughts and considerations in an online canvassing / debating process. I will share my own thoughts and considerations and I will highlight the relevant sections from the Norfolk wide Labour manifesto. I will start with Education – quite clearly one of the County Councils most important functions and something that a majority of us would surely consider to be a top priority.

Norfolk County Council is quite clearly failing our children when it comes to education. The Norfolk Labour manifesto says: “We cannot any longer tolerate a situation where a majority of our schools (53%) are judged to be failing. We will move Norfolk from being one of the worst performing local authorities in England to one of the best. We will look at every aspect of schooling from Breakfast Clubs to longer school days which can help achieve this ambition. Norfolk Labour is ambitious for our children and schools. We will always put the interest of Norfolk children’s first”.

Locally, we have recently heard that Thetford Academy is to be placed under special measures for failing its Ofsted report. Half of all Schools judged by Ofsted in Norfolk in the most recent survey failed – this is clearly unacceptable. But rather than blaming the schools and the teachers, we need to be asking ourselves as a community, and the County Council needs to be saying to these schools – “What do we need to do to help?” Thetford Academy is under incredible pressure with the merger of both schools, a complex building programme and a large number of special educational needs children. The County Council most make sure that the school has the resources needed to deal with this challenge and I will fight to make sure that this is a reality. As a former student of Queensway Infants, then Junior School, then Charles Burrell High School and lastly an attendee of the Thetford Sixth Form centre I understand what it is like to go to school in Thetford. I have also served as a Governor of Charles Burrell so had the opportunity to see things from a different side.

I am aware of concerns about the way in which the Academy is managed and the lack of openness and transparency since becoming an Academy. The lack of parental involvement in the management of the school is of concern ad I will push for this to be addressed. A school is a central part of any community and the school needs to embrace that community, and the community needs to embrace that school.

We must appreciate that conventional schooling does not work for every child. Some young people are good with books and writing, others are more creative and prefer a hands on approach. I will support the Thetford Free School as a means for delivering this and encourage a curriculum locally that suits the young people of our town. I am a big supporter of apprenticeships and will work to see this promoted further. I am a supporter of community based learning opportunities and have seen such opportunities dwindle and vanish – we have got to work to address this.

I am aware that bullying is of considerable concern locally and can have a very detrimental affect on a young persons education - we have got to develop a more effective means of firstly trying to prevent bullying from occurring at all, and more robustly dealing with it should it occur and addressing the consequences. We are not at that point as of yet.


Thank-you to everybody that commented;

  • Sam Price Terry have you read the ofsted report about the NORTH n South Academy? Im worried sick for my kids.
  • Kate Skinny Mitchell Ofsted is a shocking read , my kids tell me regularly that they have supply teachers , and some of the permanent teachers are awful !! I have complained on several occasions !!
  • Sam Price We encourage our children to do their best,we keep in close contact with the school. What else do they want us to do for them?
  • Kate Skinny Mitchell And a lot of the teachers are foreign including ones from the English department !!
  • Ju-ju Julie My daughter started Thetford Academy in Sept last year, from day 1 we have had nothing but issues from bullying to problems with teachers. The teachers are dismissive in dealing with any problems that may arise throughout the day, i have to ring them to deal with any issues they are not forth coming. The whole attitude is shocking the with the way they deal with the children, they are treated like a conveyor belt of nobody's, nothing is individual, they are just told to sit down and shut up and get on with it (yes my daughter has been told this). There is also a fine line between control and being able to communicate with pupils in a manner that would gain respect from the pupils, because from what i understand alot of the class's are disruptive and the behavior is shocking to say the least as the teachers are either unwilling or incapable of having a class that listens to them. I have had to seek outside help with regard to the bullying issues and to be honest i am still considering my options as to what steps to take next, but hopefully with the help of the student support worker we will get some conclusion and i must admit he has been very helpful.
  • Victor Peters As a ex governor of a school with very challenging circumstances I can assure you that the school has very little scope for addressing the problem of supply teachers / overseas teachers. Budget is the main reason for not being able to attract quality teachers to what is a challenging school.Without proper support from the council and more to the point central government this challange will only get harder. There have been many directives and whatever to try to address the issue within schools up and down the country but with little effect. The school and it's management / governors have to make very difficult decisions and it sometimes frustrates me that people that are genuine in thier concerns for thier childs education do not seem to be able to access infomation that would help them to get a more balanced view of the schools performance. The blunt facts are that some of the problems will be down to the school some to the council and some to central government, but the overwhelming problem is lack of stransparency with the whole school system.
  • Nico Dobben Hi Terry, Thanks for mentioning your suport for the Thetford Alternative Provision Free School. I agree with you on all the points you have raised but there is of course a real problem for the County Council to support Academies because they are supposed to be independent. I would welcome a clear partnership between Academies and the County Council where the support services from the county are available to all schools, including academies and free schools for the same price as other schools.
  • Oliver Sudden Can anyone explain why they call schools academies these days? Isn't it just a poncy name to make you think that the place has improved even though they're not spending enough money for real improvements?
  • Sam Boxall Oh Terry where to start???? Well I guess my first point is where is the accountability for the whole generation of children who have already been failed? Does it still lie with Norfolk County council even though the academy is sponsored? & where is our choice as parents? We have no option without financial implications, but, to send our children to a school we all know is inadequate & is failing to provide our children with the basic expected standard of education. It is an absolute disgrace. Why haven't the Academy held a meeting for parents & the community it serves to @ least apologise, take public responsibility for its failings, & then reassure us that they are doing everything they can to rectify the situation? Perhaps then we could start to look forward & try & find ways as parents & a community we could support the work of the academy a bit more because lets face it until the free school is up & running the majority of us don't have a choice where to send our children to school
  • Margaret Roberts After reading the ofsted report on south site it just confirmed what I already thought.I had 2text messages last week (Tues Friday ) asking me why my son was not in school, both days I had took him to school,I rank the school on both occasions and had to insist that they looked for him, they found him in the classes he was supposed to be in both times. I do not work in Thetford and was about to leave work to come back and look for him.All the school could say was oh he was in extra lessons we did'nt realise he had even though they had arranged them,now if this is not a major safety I don't no what is.The school seems to be in a serious mess.
    March 25 at 3:46pm via mobile · Like · 1
  • Gemma Tilly Hi, we have children of reception age (that we send to school out of Thetford). But as a former RMHS pupil it's so sad to see how it's gone down hill in the years 12 years since we left (granted that's a long time!) Reading here it seems there's a lot of unhappy parents and pupils. Is there such thing as a Governor for the parents? Maybe parents could be each be asked to provide a letter containing their opinions of the school, its teaching, its facilities, its discipline procedures etc and have them all sent to someone higher than the Head? you'd like to think that the Powers that Be would have to listen then????
  • Victor Peters All schools have parent governors. Elections are held each time the period lapses. Usually there are not enough willing parents to take up the positions but do not know the position at the academy.
  • Francesca Robinson Trying to get up to speed with education in Thetford - the last ofsteds for rosemary musker and charles burrel were very positive and showed them both to be satisfactory and improving. So why did they become academies?
  • Peter Smith this is a great idea, Terry.
  • Mary Mum O'Connor we need a free school.xx
  • Peter Smith Norfolk County Council, run by the Tories for 122 out of the last 130 years, has been seriously failing many of our children for decades. They have been given the chance to offload schools to 'private providers' through the Coalition Government's Acade...See More
  • Natalie Thorogood Maybe if the council didn't cut funding for support services, there would be more external support for the children, families & professionals within those settings. Hopefully they're learning that cutting money is in actual fact going to cost them more in the long run.. x
  • Mary Mum O'Connor When we get a free school in Thetford thing's will really change for the better, I work in a free school and it is fantastic, No one will send their children to Rosie again so what a waist of money this new build is.