Thursday, 3 June 2010

City goes to Parliament

Today Greg Mulholland listed Early Day Motion 133

"This House ... Objects to the proposed closure of City of Leeds School; recognises the importance of exam results in ascertaining the success of schools but further recognises that they are not the only barometer for success, especially in a school like City of Leeds which has such a diverse range of students attending; notes that results in City of Leeds have also suffered due to constant speculation about the school's future; believes the school provides an invaluable service to its pupils, their parents and the surrounding community; notes the expert provision at City of Leeds for a large number of students for whom English is not their first language; is concerned that closing the school will result in pupils having to travel further to receive an education and possibly incurring extra costs resultantly; furthermore that closure of the school will damage the surrounding community by making the area less attractive for young families."

This is such a coup for the school, we have been working very hard towards it and finally it is here - I would love to see the look on Chris Edwards' face this morning.

next step:

getting the petition to support the EDM up to speed

Greg Mulholland has done us proud, a shame that Hilary Benn's name doesn't appear alongside Greg's as we had hoped.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Bias in high places?

I've been waiting all week to see if Education Leeds or the YEP make any mention of City of Leeds passing its Ofsted.

The official report came out on Wednesday but it was public knowledge and on Guardian Leeds on-line on the 13th May.

Not a word!

Need I say more.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

OFSTED supports City of Leeds

In the report to the Executive Board on 17th April 2010 Education Leeds stated that:

"Although the school’s latest inspection report cited the school’s strengths, the new inspection framework contained much higher expectations of schools, and the school is judged to be at risk of going into an OfSTED category requiring significant improvement or special measures."

On Friday 7th May City of Leeds School was inspected by Ofsted with less than 24 hours notice.
And passed!!!!
Satisfactory progress on all action points from last inspection no need for early re-inspection

... so Education leeds assertion that the school would fail an inspection under the new more rigorous inspection regime has like most of their assertions proved groundless!

Well done, City of Leeds!

We now need to write objecting to the closure before 28th May 2010
(Unfortunately the statutory notice doesn't have an email address)

Please write to:

The Chief Executive
Education Leeds
FAO School Organisation Team
9th Floor West
Merrion House
110 Merrion Centre
Leeds LS2 8DT

The school organisation team does have an email address but it is probably safer to write as well as email:

Thursday, 29 April 2010

May Day Rally

The traditional May Day Rally is on Saturday too.

We want to see as many people from the three threatened schools and Royal Park there as possible - bring your placards and banners and help make our voice heard.

There will be a stall where you can buy badges, pick up information and sign the petition to keep City of Leeds as a local school for local children

Meet up at 12 noon outside the Art Gallery on the Headrow

We're all going to the benefit after the rally - you can do both!

Don't forget our benifit for city of Leeds and Unity this weekend

Crazy day for a fundraiser ie. Live in Leeds mayhem happening however on offer something different.
Note any band or friends want to participate in the footie your welcome.

May the 1st at the Burley Liberal Club is FREEBOOTER

A Hyde Park Unity Day Fundraiser with activities for people of all ages -


Under 12's - 1-3pm
12-16 year olds - 3-5pm
Open Age (16+) 5-7pm

This will be 7-a-side (possibly 5-a-side for the under 12’s) there will be trophies to be won, not just for the winners, for the best players & we will be giving out certificates for effeort & fairplay awards… Plus of course there will be the famous Hyde Park Unity Day wooden spoons for miss of the tournament or any hilarious on-field calamities!

To enter a team in advance contact (free to enter, we suggest a donation to participating adult teams)

STEEL BAND SHOWCASE 3-6PM - see 3 of Leeds' finest Steel Bands playing an outdoor marquee!

East Leeds Steel 3-4pm
Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows 4-5pm
Foxwood Steel Bandits 5-6pm

We are also running a BBQ (catering for vegetarians & people who are Halal), it should be lit from 3pm-7.30pm.

We are having some chaps & chapesses down from Leeds Circus Society to perform some circus skills. They will be performing juggling & tricks & running some workshops for people wanting to try. We may be treated to a show of Fire breatheing in the evening.

There will be a chance to watch or take part in Live art with BAMBOO KID.

We are holding doing a raffle to raise funds + raise awareness of the proposed closure of City of Leeds High School – one of the last couple of remaining inner city High Schools in Leeds, which is being threatened with closure despite continually passing it’s ofstead inspections.

And there will be Live Acts from a variety of genres + a a DJ going on upstairs in the evening from 7pm+. A £3 donation to Unity Day is required on the door. Playing:

Sounds of Sirens (indie / rock) - 8.20pm
Ols Moore & the Gypsy Dogs (Gypsy / folk / alt) – 9.10pm
Alphabetix (Hip-hop rhyming crew) – 10.00pm
MC No Change (Hip-Hop) 11.00pm - promoting his new Album, land of the lost available on crackhouse records)
Naffdog (gonzo / electronica) 12.00 midnight
+ DJ Chat (spinning tunes of all genres in between acts).

So come down enjoy the fantastic variety events and put a smile on your face this May Day :)


Monday, 26 April 2010

Stand up for City and Unity benefit

May 1st at 12 noon is the kick-off for a fun-filled, family event to raise money for Hyde Park Unity Day and the Stand up for City campaign at the Burley Sports Club (Burley Liberal Club) on Burley Road.

Amongst other delights there will be 'free-booter' football for kids of all ages, a BBQ, a Steel pan showcase featuring East Steel, Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows (both of which are based at City of Leeds School) and Foxwood Steel Bandits, and various bands into the evening.

Come along and join in the fun

Saturday, 24 April 2010

City of Leeds Petition

Stuart Long, an ex-pupil of City of Leeds School, has started a petition to try to prevent the closure of a great local school

Bollywood comes to Little Woodhouse

Today I went to the Little Woodhouse Picnic in Hanover Square.

It was a beautiful afternoon in the tiny park. St George's Crypt provided refreshments, there were stalls and exhibitions with lots of really well presented information about the area and activities for the children.

The shows included a wide range of music and a great drumming workshop. The highlight had to be the belly dancing which finished with an invitation to join the fun - as you can see from the photograph above there was quite a crowd tempted to have a go and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

I met so many interesting people: Janice Priestly from Neighbours United, Freda Matthews of the Little Woodhouse Community Association and Tony Benn who brought his son, Hilary, along to the event.

I really enjoyed myself; thank you so much for inviting me, Freda.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Why don't local people send their children to their local school?

I was sat with my friend across the road yesterday and we were moaning about schools and our kids and needs and......

She is in despair.
Her youngest, in year 8 is not happy at his school (all her kids went there, it was her local school before she moved) and they aren't meeting his needs there - he's severely dyslexic.

So I say to her, 'The school doesn't suit him'.

And she agrees, even though it's an 'outstanding' school.

So I say to her, 'City would suit him'.

And she agrees.

'But,' says she, 'how can I send him there when it's probably closing?'

And I have to agree.

If my daughter wasn't already there I wouldn't send her now, not because it isn't a great school, it is, but simply because, well, how can any parent deliberately put their child in a school they know might close?
If her son is unsettled now, how unsettled will he be in a school under threat and how much more damage will it do him if he has to go through closure when he's just moved school?

I've had several parents in the last week ask me if they should move their children now, before the rush.
It is so hard to tell them not to take them out, at least until we know the final decision.
I know it is nothing to do with City of Leeds being a bad school, none of them want their children to leave, none of them want the school to close, but they are so frightened that their kids will be stuck without a school to go to if they don't go now.

They are just worried, and so am I.

But, for me, it is about more than my daughter's school, it is about my community, my beliefs, my convictions.

My daughter will stay at City because City is the best school I know for her and while it is there she will have the benefit of the diversity and vitality and care it offers.
She will stay there because City is worth fighting for and there is so much more fighting left to do.
She will stay there because I won't abandon my faith in my community and I won't abandon my community.
She will stay there because it is the best school for all our children and taking her away from City would be the worst thing I could do for her.
She will stay there because, if I take my child away from City, how can I possibly tell others to keep their children there?

Fortunately, it's also where she most wants to be!

Children need local schools, inner-city children need them more than ever now that our communities are so hard pressed and our people are so much poorer than even 10 years ago.

The gap is widening and we are the victims of statistics.

Stand up 4 City
Stand up 4 local schools

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Privately Funded Investment

Carlton Towers before demolition

PFIs are a major problem for communities.
For some reason the government and councils seem to think they are a 'good thing'.
Perhaps something to do with money?

I only really know PFIs from education where they are a complete and utter disaster.

A truly dismal PFI school in Leeds

We have more schools now that leak, that have health and safety issues, that are falling into disrepair because the PFI companies are reneging on their contracts and failing to maintain the buildings, that do not meet the needs of the students, that are too small for the number of pupils, that do not allow SEN pupils access to individual technology, that have to be added to because essentials like fire escapes have been forgotten, that have classrooms that can't fit 30 desks so can't hold a class, that came into use months after the deadline and millions over the budgets.............. than we ever had before the program was started. There's even a report that says that the victorian buildings they have often replaced were actually greener and more energy efficient than the new ones.

I went round one PFI school two weeks after it opened to students and was absolutely astounded at the poor quality of the building and workmanship - there was water running down the wall of the brand new ICT suite, cracked windows where the frames had been put in skewed, lino that was raised and splitting, electrics unfinished with wires hanging loose, gutters not fitted, and green moss growing up the walls on the outside where they were so damp.

They are a disgrace and many need to be pulled down and started again with proper planning and decent materials.

But the more I hear about PFIs involved in public housing contracts the more worried I become about what is happening to people who are dependent on social housing.
Every time there is a new project it seems we lose more than we gain - in Little London there will be far fewer homes than have been knocked down and most of them won't even be council houses, they will be 'affordable homes' but who can afford them? Certainly not the residents who have been dispossessed and had their homes demolished.
Many of those families are now having to live in privately rented accommodation without the security and safeguards they had in their flats and at much higher rents.

As the housing pool gets smaller and the communities struggle to maintain their cohesion I can only see things getting worse.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Why stand up 4 City?

Why do I concentrate so heavily on education and City of Leeds?

I have decided to stand in the local election as a candidate for the council again and I looked at my blog and it struck me how much I say about education and how little I say about everything else that concerns my community.

I do really care about other issues.

I want Hyde Park and Woodhouse as a ward to grow and thrive.

I want to stop the neglect, clean up the streets, protect our parks and green spaces, provide cultural and community resources such as the Royal Park community centre we are fighting so hard for. Sorting out the parking and ensuring proper planning goes into housing and regeneration projects are essential to improving the quality of life for residents here.

I want to work with the universities to support and manage the student influence in our ward so that we can work and study and live with some sense of unity and common understanding. Students bring life and vitality to our area but they need to respect our communities too.

For me the communities of Hyde Park and Woodhouse are the central theme and I will do my very best to support them, whether as a councillor or as a local resident.

So why do I focus so much on City of Leeds and education?

The answer is quite simple; our communities will only thrive if they can grow, they will only grow if we care for our children and support them as they mature and form their social identities.

If we lose our school then how do we protect our children? How do we bring them up as members of our communities when they spend most of their time away across the city? How do we ensure that they are safe and happy? How do we educate them in the values of our communities? How do we make sure their needs are met and not lost in the hubbub of a school day where no-one knows them or cares for them?

Schools are the heart of our communities, not because schools themselves have any particular strengths in supporting our communities, especially now so many are PFI, and safeguarding and risk assessments mean we struggle to access them either to support our children or to enjoy the benefits communities have traditionally gained form the sharing of resources (though some, like City of Leeds, still do their best), but because children are really the heart of our communities and if we care for them properly then they will care for their communities and strengthen and maintain them as they grow.

The children of our communities are our future, our most precious resource, our immortality in a throw-away world. They are everything and should come first in all we do.

In Hyde Park and Woodhouse we have a good high school, one that meets our children's needs according to Ofsted but one that has been under attack for so long we can't even remember the last time someone from Education Leeds said anything nice about it.
It is a school that has improved dramatically in the last 5 years or so but it is a school that needs support to improve further.

If we want our communities to thrive then we want our children to thrive and the best place for them to do that is in our own high school, City of Leeds.

If we lose City of Leeds I am certain we will lose everything else, including our children and young people, and in 10-20 years time we will have no communities left to fight for.

So City of Leeds is important and worth fighting for, more than any other single issue I can think of and I will continue to focus on it for our children and our communities.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

City protest

A good turn out today with loads of banners and press but when I tried to go in to the executive board meeting I was told that the public couldn't go in. I asked why but got no answer.
Later I found out that there were members of the public there.

Here's the result from the Executive Board on City of Leeds:

The Executive Board is asked to;
i. note the outcome of the consultation on proposals to close City of Leeds High School on 31st August 2011;
ii. the Executive notes the alternative plan put forward by the governors of City of Leeds High School and partners;
iii. request Education Leeds to bring back a report, July 2010, based on consultations with the Governors of City of Leeds High School and other stake holders, during the period of the statutory consultation, exploring all options to ensure the continued use of the site for educational purposes;
iv. approve the publication of a statutory notice to close City of Leeds High School on 31st August 2011.

A disappointing result to say the least but there is to be discussion before the final decision is made and Education Leeds has been directed to explore all options.
What that actually means is anyone's guess.

The fight goes on.

Protest today

I haven't posted in ages, I've been working hard on a critique of Education Leeds' report to the Executive Board which meets today.

And the covering letter, a version of which went online in the Guardian Leeds blog last night

We will be meeting at the back of the Civic Hall at 12pm to protest against the closure of City of Leeds School

Please join us.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Greer on Education

On Tuesday I was invited by Lori Beckett, Winifred Mercier Professor of Teaching at Leeds Met to her annual lecture.The guest speaker was Germaine Greer.Germaine arrived late, poor Lori spent a desperate hour in the foyer waiting for her.
But when she did arrive she was true to form and a fantastic speaker.

Lori did a lovely introduction and spoke about the desperate state education is in at the moment with the emphasis on facts rather than learning and the closure and degradation of our schools.

Geramine took up a similar theme.
She talked a lot about women as educators and the natural tendency we have to teach, a trait that far fewer men enjoy.
She sees the male management of education as the root of many of our problems because, as she put it, men train, they do not understand teaching, so the emphasis has moved away from teaching to training and the loss to our children and our whole society needs to be reversed.

For me this breakdown in the way we teach our children started with Thatcher, continued through the Blair years and is now the domain of our 'beloved leader', Ed Balls.

Throughout that time there have been many educationalists who have stood against the initiatives that have stultified our education system but it is so hard for their voices to be heard in this world where to speak against the degradation of education is to stand against the accepted paradigm - a very difficult thing to do.
It does not help that, having been in the forefront of educational research and progress in the early 80s, we are now, as a country, way behind. And because all the work we were doing was so thoroughly discredited it is so very, very hard now to claw back that progress.

We have a chance, with City of Leeds, to take a school and turn it around, not by forcing the national curriculum down the throats of children who clearly are not interested, but by teaching them how to learn for themselves and giving them the skills and motivation to take them into the future.

For 30 years our education system has been tied in the straight jacket of tests and statistics, there are not many of us left who remember the sheer joy of helping children learn because they want to learn. I just hope there are enough of us left to show those who know no different that Ed Balls' way is not the only way and far from the best way to teach our children.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Question Time

A little group of us went off to the Grand at 6pm and stood, very nicely, outside, holding our placards and giving out leaflets. The manager came out and asked us what we were doing and was fine with us being there as long as we were quiet and not obstructing the entrance or pavement, and then a little later a couple of police officers came along and stopped to talk. There was a really nice atmosphere about it and, given I still have that nasty virus, it was good not to have to shout and bang things for a change.

A lot of the people we spoke to were really interested and many hadn't even heard about the closures of our 3 schools. A couple of people actually said they would put a question in about the schools.

As time drew on Victoria went in and asked if there were any tickets left - and, amazingly, there was a ticket for everyone who wanted to go in.

The show was probably one of the most boring I have ever heard.
William Hague wittered on about that lord who gives them loads of money, is their deputy chair or something, and doesn't even pay tax in the UK. Most of the panelists were quite happy to spend the full program on that one question it seemed - probably because it was pretty safe and there's nothing new to say about it.
So they only managed another 3 or 4 questions and none at all about education even though Chris Pickering was chosen and wanted to ask why we weren't increasing higher education spending like every other country does in recession.

By far the best member of the panel was Bea Campbell of the Green Party. I spoke with her afterwards and liked her a lot, she's a very intelligent and thoughtful speaker.

At the end I watched Ed Balls putting on his jacket as if he was going to rush out before anyone had a chance to ask him anything difficult and I was so determined that he wasn't going to get away without at least knowing that someone wanted to challenge him on education that I grabbed one of the placards in my bag (the one with "Protect our Children, Safeguard our schools" and the names of all three schools, City of Leeds, Parklands and Primrose) and shouted from the balcony.
I definitely got his attention and a good round of applause from the audience.

As we left we discovered, much to our surprise, that there was a reception for the audience to meet the panel so, instead of rushing home as we had planned, we talked to Bea Campbell and then Victoria approached Ed Balls.

Ed Balls admitted to putting pressure on Education Leeds although not about specific schools.

After a few minutes of talking, mainly about City of Leeds, he said he would be pleased to meet with us at another time (he has previously ignored invites from staff, governors and our MP, Hilary Benn, to visit and speak to people from City of Leeds) and gave us an email to contact him on.

Will he meet with us?

Or will he prove me right and is everything he says just pure Ballshit?

Only time, and a couple of emails, will tell.

Balls to Education

Tonight Ed Balls is at the Grand on the panel of Question Time.

Will he admit to the Balls up he has made of our education system?
I doubt it!

Will he spout more Ballshit?

A group of parents, staff and kids from City of Leeds, Parklands and Primrose will be making a protest outside the theatre.

Will he listen to us?
"Balls to that", I hear him say!

Great name he's got!!!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Anomie and social cohesion

This map shows anomie, a measure of social cohesion, as recorded in a study of social and spatial inequalities at Sheffield University in 2008. The study was called Changing UK and looked at social inequalities comparing them with previous measures.

The darker the area, the greater the anomie, the less cohesive the community.

For the whole of the UK the strongest communities are all now weaker than the weakest measured in 1971.

The area of England identified as having the worst social cohesion in the study was Hyde Park and Headingley in Leeds.

And that is before they close our high school!

Councils have a statutory duty to support and build community cohesion and it is time to remind our elected councillors that they were elected by their communities, and it is their communities they are elected to serve, not central government.

Unfortunately, Leeds City Council has decided to ignore this study in favour of the Leeds Neighbourhood Index which puts Hyde Park firmly in the 'average' category for everything but Environment, Education and Housing.
This is because it does not take into account the way the huge student body skews the outcomes for this area - for example, health is average or better because we have so many more fit, able bodied young people in the ward; the fact that these young people are only short term residents doesn't count. Similarly, the measure of low income is skewed because it is based on claims for Council Tax Benefit and students are exempt so don't claim.

Perhaps it is time for the wards of Headingley and Hyde Park to get together and find a way to rebuild our communities without reference to political parties.
Perhaps it is time to create our own party and stand up for ourselves like the independents of Morley.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


How many children have I taught? Hundreds? Thousands?
In all types of school, from all over the world.

Today I will tell you about Killy.

My very favourite school, Kilquhanity House, in Galloway.

I went there from a primary in Bradford where I was badly bullied by the deputy head.
That was my probationary year, my first year teaching, and she tried to fail me but fortunately the local advisers were brilliant and saw me through it - just.

I ran away to Killy. I thought I'd never go back to the state system, especially as the very next year the National Curriculum was brought in with SATs close on its heels.

Killy was a kids' paradise and the reason I tend to call kids, "kids" ("Killy Kids" was what we "staff" had to call them and it stuck).

It was also a teacher's paradise.

No set curriculum, no uniform, no surnames (except for John A, John B and John C whose names really did begin with those letters), no risk assessments, no playground supervision (we didn't have a playground, just acres of overgrown garden with huts and treehouses, ponds and streams, ropes and trees) and only 3 unalterable rules:

All members of the school must be in class at class time.
All members of the school must attend council on Thursday afternoon.
All members of the school must do useful work.

I got paid a pittance, worked ridiculously long hours (sometimes past midnight), did my own cleaning, worked on maintenance teams and enjoyed every minute of my 3 years.

Killy was a democratic school where the kids made real decisions; my interview had to be on a Thursday so that the kids could interview me at the council meeting because they had a say in the decision.

Everything was negotiable and negotiated, every opportunity that could be taken to learn was taken - no Maths lesson today, Brian's free so we can go to find amethyst geodes in Creetown instead but it's OK you'll be studying solids with angles and facets galore and learning how to use a lump hammer!
What a day that was, I still have one of the low grade crystals tucked away - the kids, of course, got all the good ones.

I discovered at Killy what teaching is really about and I learned to respect each member of that community, from 5 to 85.
From the stress of a leafy primary where I had had such a terrible time, I entered a world where people wanted to learn what I had to teach them, where my colleagues asked me for advice just as often as I asked them and where I came to appreciate just how well kids can learn if you only let them.

Killy was a very special school opened in the war years as a pacifist school by John Aitkenhead who had been part of the Glasgow experiment till the war disrupted everything.
We took children from 5 to 19 years, some because their parents chose not to send their children to an ordinary school but many because they had been so unhappy in their old schools, and often excluded from them. Around 80% had additional needs, mostly dyslexia, although I can see with hindsight that several were on the autistic spectrum.
Many were also highly disturbed when they first came and bullied other kids mercilessly but the council soon sorted that out - bullies 'undertook' to make reparation and woe betide anyone who didn't meet their undertaking; the council could be a very hard master. Run by the kids and for the whole school, even John A was answerable and, having once been 'brought up' for not letting my class throw their work away, I found it surprisingly hard to face.

John's favourite saying was, "Education is the pursuit of happiness."

And he meant it.

If a child was not happy he wanted to know why and what we were doing about it and, 'should she be in class if she's so unhappy at the moment? Let's find some other structure she can cope with.'

It wasn't an airy, fairy, 'let's all just do what we like' sort of happiness that John was talking about.
What he was really saying is that when a child is happy they want to learn and are stimulated to follow interests from which they can learn.
So our priority was to make sure our kids were happy and well cared for before we even started looking at what they needed to learn.

My class (I had 8-12 year olds and my class was simply 'Adele's Class') did all the basics but a whole lot of other things too.
We followed an eel downstream in the river one day, went otter watching at dawn (every one of them turned up at 5:30am!), built benders and camped out in the school grounds, learned to cook over an open fire, planted beds of wildflowers, cooked lunch for the whole school and built a stunning clay galleon 3ft long only to destroy it with the cannon balls rolled ready for battle.

Here are Chaib, Rowan (who started the galleon that day) and Morris

The sense of wonder in learning never left me again and the ability to connect up the threads of our world and bring them together with the help of my kids was probably the most important thing I learned.

In some ways we did very little formal learning together but in others it was incredibly intense and, by the time they were 14 they were sometimes looking to go back to state schools where there were more exams available.

Every year John would get the same two phonecalls from the local high schools - how many do you have for us this year, John?
Usually it was only 2 or 3 but they would both try their hardest to persuade them to join their schools.

I always found that sort of sadly ironic considering how many of our kids the state system had kicked out - we were actually used as a referral school for kids the local authority couldn't place.
But apparently, a few years with us and they were worth their weight in gold - they were motivated, could hold their own in a debate and usually took about 6 months to overtake most of their peers in their work.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Three cheers for all the emailers and letter writers!

We met at the Rose Bowl and banged a lot of drums, said a lot of heartfelt things, got a £100 from Alan Bennett and generally made a big noise about keeping Royal Park for the community.

It was a lively event and felt really good to be part of although I couldn't stay for the Executive Board meeting as I had my son with me - he was happy to be at a rally to help save his old school but wouldn't have coped inside with so many people.

The news from the council chamber later was stunning, it must have been so tense in there and then suddenly Royal Park was off the agenda; deferred for at least 3 months because Councillor Brett was still in discussion with Royal Park Community Consortium.

Apparently, local councillors had been absolutely flooded with emails and letters in the last few days.

Finally, perhaps, they will begin to listen.

Here's the Guardian version from John Baron

And from the BBC

I finished the day with parents' evening at City of Leeds, always a positive experience even though we had a bit of a problem to iron out - everyone said my daughter can do anything she likes for her GCSE options except, of course, the combination she actually wants to do - typical, but at least at City when things like that crop up they do their absolute best to sort it out.

Well, it's sort it out or teach her myself!

Ah, yes, another thing the government thinks parents can't do properly - teach their own children!

Just remember that a child's education is the responsibility, not of the Education Authority, but of the parent and any parent can choose to teach their own child.
It does not have to be in the same way that the government dictates a child should be taught - there are many good ways to teach a child and for each child the best way is unique to that child.

The report on education other than at school is biased against parents and home education. It states that there are parents 'not cooperating' when, in fact, the law states that parents do not have to do anything and that is just what they are doing. Education Authorities tell parents that they must allow inspections and most accept this without question but it is not actually true.

The funny thing about home educated children is that most of them do at least as well in life as school educated children, and many of them do much, much better.

The only time that the LEA has the right to interfere with the home education of a child is if that child has a Statement of Special Education Needs in which case they do have a duty to ensure that the child's needs are met, but again, this does not have to be in a school setting.

The safe-guarding issue is largely a red herring. That is not the responsibility of an LEA but of the parents - a school is 'in loco parentis' when a child is in its care, not when a child is at home. If there is any doubt that the parent is not caring for a child properly then there are many other places than school that a child will be seen - doctors, youth groups, toddler groups, etc - and any of them can speak to social services, as can a concerned individual member of the public.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Royal Park Rally on Wednesday

If, like me, you missed the Royal Park rally on Monday (I have one of those nasty viruses that just won't go away at the moment) then you have another chance at noon before the Executive Board meets to make its decision.

Meet at the Rose Bowl (Leeds Met) at 12pm.

Hope to see you all there - hope I'm well enough!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Sordid Tale

I have just commented on this excellent article from Victoria Jaquiss on John Baron's Guardian Leeds Blog

Thanks Victoria and John for being so positive about City of Leeds in the face of such scurrilous abuse from Education Leeds; I just hope that the executive board is listening and will make the right decision in April - our councillors need to support our communities now and halt the damage being done by bodies which have no interest in us as people, families and communities and care only about statistics.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Support the Royal Park bid

John Ramsden of the council's assets management dept. is to recommend to the executive board on 10th March that Royal Park be sold to a commercial developer.

The plan is for about 35 student flats on the upper floor and commercial space on the ground floor with the possibility of some community space also on the ground floor.

please email John Ramsden with your objections:

Last chance to object to closure

Tomorrow is the last day of the public consultation on City of Leeds School.

We urgently need more objections filed with Education Leeds so please email now:

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

No more Education Leeds

Education Leeds to be merged with Children's Services

At last!

This has been a rumour for the last several months - we knew it was coming but the word was in 3 years, not 1.

Lets hope Chris Edwards is not put in charge and while we're at it Pat Toner needs to go too.


During my campaign to become a councillor to stand up for City of Leeds School and for our community I heard a lot about students:

student mess
student noise
student cars
student apathy

And I have to wonder why it is so bad in Leeds. Is it this bad in other cities?

Then, when I was leafleting one day, I went into a university residence and asked if I could deliver to the student flats.

I was told, "No."
Apparently the only way to get electoral material to these voters was to post it by royal mail.
I explained that I thought this was unethical as, being an independent I have very little money and couldn't afford a mail shot. I told the officer I spoke to that I would have to take the matter further as voters have a right to have access to electoral material.

I was thinking yesterday about writing a letter to Leeds University about this - students are adults and registered voters but how can we expect them to participate in our community and our democracy if they aren't allowed the information on which to base their choices? No wonder they are accused of apathy but who can blame them when they aren't even aware there's an election, never mind know what the issues are?

Then I got a call from the university - the powers that be have actually listened and have decided that from now on any candidate may leaflet the residences by delivering individually addressed leaflets batched by block to the site office of the residence concerned.

Definitely a victory for democracy!

Big Hug too!

I know I wrote about the Big Hug but somehow the post seems to have been lost.

It was really good to be part of something that powerful, the kids were great and it was so good to see them coming together for their school.

Here's a great shot on John Baron's Guardian Leeds Blog

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Big Hug for City of Leeds School

It's been a while

I keep meaning to post but I've really been so tired and needed to get back to my family for a while.

Not that I've stopped by any means.....

.....on Saturday I went to a hustings at Leeds Met and challenged the Labour MP, Hilary Benn on the National Challenge policy and the closure of schools in deprived areas.

On Sunday I answered all the emails I hadn't found time for before the election and made cards for some particularly lovely well-wishers who phoned me and left messages on election day.

On Monday I spent all day helping my son with his coursework for his A-levels - being autistic he finds it hard to understand what is being asked of him and needs someone there to help him organise himself or he gets frustrated - far harder work than standing in an election.
I had his statement review too; he's doing really well and everything is now set for his next school year.

On Tuesday I actually managed to get round to some housework.

On Wednesday I took my son to his card club, did the shopping, picked up all the stuff I left at Victoria's election day and then took over 3/4hour to get all of 500 yards from her house to the student union to collect him because I bumped into so many people wanting to wish me well and hoping I'm going to stand in the next election.

And today I joined the community choir at Little London Primary School and then went to steel pans at City of Leeds.

The choir was great.

When I arrived the hall was crawling with small children and everyone was getting orange juice and tea.

Before I knew it, though, the session had started and very quickly everyone joined in 'baking a cake' with all the sound effects; I think that was by far the best bit, great fun.
Then we did some breathing and voice exercises - riding a motorbike up and down hills was pretty chaotic but the kids obviously loved it.

And then we got down to the singing.

I really enjoyed myself; I love singing but have never had the confidence to join a 'real' choir, this was just so much fun and I felt completely at home, I'll definitely be back there next week.

Friday, 19 February 2010

There are more ways to win than just getting votes

I got 150 votes and came 4th - not bad for a complete unknown with just 4 weeks to establish herself.
I got 7% of the vote which I'm told is pretty acceptable, especially as the Lib Dems and Labour had hundreds of people on the street and I had my very small team who, however hard they worked, could not hope to compete with the sheer hours of campaigning that the main parties put in.

Gerry Harper, Labour, won with 1054 and the Lib Dems got just 671.

But who won wasn't really the point for me - every candidate declared against closing City of Leeds, almost all supported Royal Park (I'm not sure about the Conservatives as I never saw any election material from them) and I know that the importance of those issues was only because I was standing on them and all the parties knew that if they didn't support City and Royal Park they would lose votes to me.

And to cap it all, Gerry Harper said he would so his 'damnedest' to stop City from closing on camera!!!!!

Thanks to everyone who supported me in this campaign, especially my team who were truly wonderful.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tomorrow's our big day

Life has been a little busy since Saturday but tomorrow is our big day.

The responses I've been getting from people as I've been canvassing have been great; I can hardly believe how many people have said they will vote for me though it isn't surprising that most people are thoroughly disillusioned with the three main parties at the moment.
The combination of neglect from the Lib Dems and Tories in local government (most see it as the Lib Dems here as all three of our councillors have been lib Dem for a while) and the complete farce we are seeing in central government with Labour further right than the Conservatives, the banking mess, the schools fiasco, the increasingly unpopular wars we should never have been involved in anyway, the expenses scandal and the widening gap between rich and poor, means that nobody has anything good to say about any of them, never mind giving them their votes.

My team has worked really hard and I am so proud to be part of it, whether we win or not we know we have put our all into this fight and deserve every vote we get.

See you all tomorrow bright and early!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Friendship Bench

The Royal Park Public Meeting was well attended and a great success.
The presentation of the bid went very well and was much more interesting than Friday's presentation to the council which obviously had to concentrate more on technical details and finance.

As Sue Buckle spoke about the history of the school and the fight for the building I was struck by how important it was to tell the public about the image on the cover of the bid, projected on the screen behind her and I asked to speak at the end.

This image was of the Friendship Bench, built by children, parents and staff with a local artist in the final year of Royal Park's history as a school and still standing proud in the playground.

When I spoke, I told the meeting about helping to build the bench, and that my son had calculated the amount of concrete needed to build it. I pointed out my daughter's face and told them that I know the name of every child pictured on that bench, that they are all now teenagers and many are at City of Leeds.

I then explained that when it was built the children were told that if ever they felt lonely or needed someone to talk to, all they had to do was sit on the bench and they would find a friend. I went on to say how glad I was that this was the image they had chosen because the Royal Park community centre would be there for everyone, for help, advice and friendship.

It was a very emotional experience, the bench has become the symbol of Royal Park and carries its ethos from the old to the new. I feel very proud to be part of that.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The Royal Park Jamboree

The presentation of the Royal Park Bid at the Civic Hall today went well and those attending seemed very positive.

The team spoke brilliantly and answered all the questions put to them.

It was all a bit formal but Saturday's presentation to the public should be a really good event with all sorts of things going on for everybody from 0-100+

I aim to be there for as much of the day as I can manage

Royal Park Public Meeting
12-4 pm Saturday 13th february
All Hallows Church
24 Regent Terrace
Leeds LS6 1NP

Pressure from the dcsf

Gerry Harper, the Labour candidate who, incidentally, was the only candidate not to speak in favour of keeping City of Leeds open, has denied that central government, specifically the Labour Party, are putting pressure on Education Leeds and Leeds City Council to close City but I have seen the letters from Ed Balls and Vernon Coaker to Chris Edwards.

The one from Vernon Coaker appears to be in the public domain and can be accessed with a google search.


I was interviewed at the City of Leeds Public Meeting by John Baron of Guardian Leeds.
I didn't quite finish my last sentence but I think you can tell what I'm going to say......

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Locked out by Education Leeds

Chris Edwards didn't come to face the people of Hyde Park and Woodhouse last night, he wasn't there at Primrose tonight either.

Primrose is part of the Federation with city of Leeds and I am against it becoming an academy but, unfortunately, I couldn't be at Primrose because my daughter is ill.

Apparently Councillor Brett was there though but the doors were locked by 7:10pm and he had to wait over half an hour to be let in.
I wonder how many other people arrived and found themselves locked out and simply turned away?

How can Education Leeds run our schools when it can't even run a consultation? People have a right to attend a public meeting, locking the doors denies them access and in my opinion there should be a public investigation into how Education Leeds consults on proposals.

They didn't advertise the Primary Expansion Public Meeting for Blenheim and Brudenell properly and I was the only person to turn up.

So when the City of Leeds one was due I decided not to wait for Education Leeds to advertise it, I did it myself (with my team, of course) and delivered almost 10,000 leaflets with the details of both the City and Royal Park meetings.

And they had a bit of a shock.

So what do they do to stop people having their say this time?

They lock people out of the public meeting.

I think they don't like public meetings!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

We all stood up!

Tonight was stunning!

This was by far the biggest public meeting Education Leeds have ever faced; there must have been well over 500 people there with councillors, local primary heads, university lecturers, and loads of parents and pupils.

The welcome was wonderful, everybody had worked so hard on the displays, and the food was excellent.
The dvd the pupils made was really moving and throughout we had the Silver Sparrows in the background.
The meeting itself was a bit of a farce, it was so clear that nobody in the room supported the proposal to close City of Leeds and every speaker was passionate about the need to keep the school for our children and community. At the end of 2 hours there were still people wanting to speak but so much had been said and our hands were red with clapping at the hard hitting points that were coming from the public. Education Leeds did not get one clap but Sue Buckle managed a standing ovation!!!

There was a very generous offer from Leeds Metropolitan University to work with City of Leeds to develop it for the future.
And also a proposal from Jill wood, Head of Little London, to form a partnership with the feeder primaries and to develop City as a school for the community it serves.

I hope very much that Education Leeds listens to what we had to say tonight and acts on it with some level of integrity but I somehow doubt it; Chris Edwards didn't even have the courtesy to show his face, never mind answer a question, after slagging the school off on the radio today.

The campaign goes on; the letters need to keep going to the newspapers, the leaflets need to keep going out to the community, the objections need to keep going to Education Leeds.

And I have to get up early tomorrow - vampire hunting at 6am (staking I think Mike called it)!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Royal Park

Tonight was the last Royal Park gathering before the public meeting and it was really encouraging to see how much planning was going into the presentation of the Royal Park Bid to the public.
It looks like it is going to be a real community celebration and well worth going to with activities for children, food, opportunities to pledge support for the refurbishment of the building and to explore and contribute to the wealth of ideas that are coming together.

The two core groups have decided to unite to simplify organisation and to pool their skills so they can really focus on getting behind the bid and acquiring the building for the community first and foremost and then, develop and evolve their ideas together with the wider community as they make the building usable in the first stage of the project.

I am so glad I got involved in this campaign, before I ever thought of standing in an election, because it has given me the energy and passion to stand up for City of Leeds, for our children and for our people throughout Hyde Park and Woodhouse. It has reminded me that there are many things worth fighting for in our area and together we can win.

Royal Park Public Meeting
12 pm Saturday 13th february
All Hallows Church
24 Regent Terrace
Leeds LS6 1NP

And don't forget City of Leeds Public Meeting today


City of Leeds School
Bedford Field
Woodhouse Cliff
Leeds, LS6 2LG

Monday, 8 February 2010

City of Leeds Public Meeting - Wednesday February 10th, 7pm

I've been really busy leafleting and canvassing all weekend.
It has been both depressing to see so much of the ward in such a neglected state and yet heartening to talk to people about their communities. So many really do value City of Leeds School and I'm sure now that we will be seeing a packed public meeting there at 7pm on Wednesday night.

I spent some time leafleting with some of the staff from City of Leeds in Woodhouse today and it was great to see how committed they are to the school and to their pupils. Talking to them, not one has mentioned that they all stand to lose their jobs if the closure goes ahead, they talk only about the children and the difficulties of trying both to campaign for them and at the same time support them through a time when their school, their teachers and they, themselves, are being rubbished by Education Leeds in spite of a great Ofsted report just a few months ago.

The public meeting will be quite and event. The staff and students are working really hard to make parents and local people feel welcome. They have produced an excellent DVD with pupils which is going to be shown at the meeting and are going to be offering refreshments, displays about the school, and music from the Silver Steel Sparrows so getting there early is a must.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Bringing communities together

I'm really beginning to meet people now and so many are interested in my campaign; perhaps the time really is ripe for someone to stand apart from the point scoring of party politics, someone who knows the community and comes from the community and is prepared to work directly for the community instead of bowing to central government policy.

I know I won't be able to do everything I want to do; budgets are real, laws limit the actions of the council, and some people's needs can conflict with those of people elsewhere in the ward, or even just around the corner - but I am determined to work towards building our communities and making our ward a better place to live. I want to stand up for this community and be counted and I want my children to be proud of the community they have grown up in.

Today I spent time in several different parts of the ward, mostly delivering leaflets, and I was noticing how many homes have security gates and fences, there was one row, obviously all owned by the same landlord, that just made me think of a prison.
We should not need to be so frightened in our own homes that we feel we have to barricade ourselves in, yet it is the same all over the city.

How do we make our streets safer and our local areas feel more comfortable?
I don't think it's just about preventing crime and getting police and community officers out there, I think it is also about supporting and working with people to build communities where residents know and trust each other again.

In October I went to the Little London Lantern Festival and it was great to see how many people came out to join the procession.
It has been held for the last two years and this year was 10 times the size as last year.
This is one of the ways our schools support their communities and I'm hoping that the Head Teacher, Jill Wood, will continue to expand the festival and follow through her plan to involve more and more of the local schools. I would love to see processions through every part of the ward meeting on Woodhouse Moor, starting at the local schools and community centres with the steel pans from City of Leeds School and choirs and other musical groups from the primary schools. Perhaps the community choir working with Opera North at Little London and supported by pupils from City of Leeds School could be part of the festival too, bringing together young and old across Little London, Hyde Park and Woodhouse.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Little London Community Centre

I went with Ted to visit the Little London Community Centre this morning. There were just a few people in and it was really peaceful and welcoming.
I'm told lunch time on Wednesdays is a different story though - they do a healthy lunch that is very popular. Unfortunately we didn't have time to stay that long, maybe I'll try it out next week and take the opportunity to talk to more of the local residents.

The manager of the centre was very helpful but also concerned about the new centre being built. She didn't know when it would be happening or whether there will be a time between the closure of the current centre and the opening of the new one.
This centre provides a lot of services for local people and is obviously popular and well used, it would be a great shame to have to have a break in that and very disruptive for the community. I think the community needs continuity of this provision throughout the building period which will be disruptive enough without losing such a valuable resource even for a short time.

We got lots of information and left some leaflets before heading round to Space where we had a chat about the area with the receptionist who took some leaflets to deliver to other centres.

We have about an inch of snow here now and leafleting is very cold work.
I'm enjoying it though, especially now I've found a pair of fingerless gloves - not only do they keep your hands warm, the letter boxes don't bite quite so hard!

From tomorrow we'll be out in the daytime more which is much better because people are more willing to stop and chat.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Out in the snow

It snowed tonight and the paths were lethal but we were still out leafleting.

At one house the door was open. We handed over a leaflet and briefly introduced ourselves, then as we turned to leave the man called into the house, "Have you filled in that form yet?"
And we knew one more family had got the message about City of Leeds and is going to return the consultation form.

Monday, 1 February 2010

We need more green space

I spent a lot of today colouring in maps of the ward ready for delivering our leaflets.
It is incredible just how many people live in such a small area of the city; blocks of flats with 300-400 residents, acres of back-to-backs. Apparently over 22,000 people live in the ward.

It's no wonder we don't have enough green space to go around; we are supposed to have an additional 40,846 sq metres to meet the School Premises Regulations 1999 alone, and that is before Education Leeds expands the primary schools in the area which will obviously mean using playgrounds and fields for the modular classrooms they intend to build.

I really do think we need to buy as much of the land left by the Leeds Girls High School as we can and I think we need improve a lot of the green areas we already have. I hope that the refurbishments in Little London are going to include efforts to make the surrounding grass areas more creative and attractive for people to use.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Local politics

I've had quite a quiet weekend, probably the last for some time.

I met John Lawrence on Saturday and we had a good chat about all the various things going on around the ward and particularly about Royal park and the excitement building around the bid to turn it into a community centre.

It was great to get to know him a bit better. We have quite different backgrounds yet seem to have a lot in common in the way we feel about Hyde Park and Woodhouse and about the idea of trying to get a candidate from the community onto the Council, someone who belongs to the community rather than to a political party.

I think local councils are generally too close to central government because of the way a party controls the policy of its officers.
For instance, how can someone in the labour party stand against the closure of City of Leeds when there is direct pressure from their own ministers, Ed Balls and Vernon Coaker, on the Council and on Education Leeds?

If we really want things to change on a local level then we have to try to separate local from national politics so that party policy doesn't stand in the way of Councillors supporting their communities.

Today I made some badges and spent a little time with my children; they're not going to be getting much of my attention for the next few weeks.

Friday, 29 January 2010

So cold today

A major hiccup today - the leaflets didn't turn up.

Everything is ready to go as soon as they arrive, it's just frustrating having to wait.

I went into school again to meet some of the staff.
They are working very hard and have produced a great leaflet.

It's very simple, mostly a quote from Education Leeds alongside a contrasting quote from Ofsted and a comment from the school:

Education Leeds says... "...we are not confident that attendance can improve."
We say... "Why then did they give us an award in 2009 for the most improved school in the authority with regard to attendance?"
Ofsted says... "Attendance has improved and meets the targets set by the Department for Children, Schools and Families."

I really enjoy going into City of Leeds, I always feel at ease and the staff and pupils are always welcoming. It was strangely quiet today though, it was a staff training day so no pupils.

Coming out of City, I walked past Quarry Mount Primary School where I used to work. It was lunch time and the children were playing outside. It made me smile to remember my last class there and doing playground duty on an icy cold day.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Working 40 hours a day

When I told my dad I was standing in the by-election he warned me I would be working a 40 hour day and I laughed!

Today I spent even more time on the phone but this time speaking to some of the people I want to reach rather than just organisational matters and business.

I was asked to ring an Asian woman who is really upset about the idea of City of Leeds closing.
She is a single parent with 5 children; 2 are already at City of Leeds and a 3rd is due to go in September. She is so worried about how she will afford bus fares of around £30/week, how she will get to meetings with teachers with no car and young children, and how her children will have to go away from the local area and their friends as their classes are split up.

She said she was really relieved to speak to someone who is trying to do something and who can represent her views at the public meeting on the 10th February at City of Leeds.
I think I was just as relieved to hear from someone coming to me fresh from the from the community asking me to do exactly what I plan to do - Stand up for City!

I had a bit of a walk over to see some friends in the Holborns down by Charring Cross and was noticing struck by how many cars are parked up around the area during the day. It's no wonder that residents are complaining about not being able to park. They often blame students but, although there are far more students with cars these days than there used to be, I think it is often people working in the city centre who would rather pay the bus fare from further out than pay for parking in the centre. I know that's a real problem in Little London but I'm beginning to realise how far out of the city it affects people. I'm not sure why we don't have the park and ride facilities on the outskirts like in York; I think that has to be something to look at if I win this election.

John Lawrence invited me to the presentation of the Royal Park bid on the 12th February.
The proposals look great and, even though I would like to see the building as a primary school for our community again, I can't help but be excited at the thought of what the Royal Park Community Consortium is planning to give us. The proposals are really imaginative and should go a long way to welcoming all the various people of the area together - community cohesion is supposed to be one of the central responsibilities of the council so I hope they can see the potential in this bid and decide to back it.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Leeds Schools Together

Another day on the telephone.
I used to avoid the telephone at all costs but now I can't seem to escape from it.

I'm getting to know a lot of good people though and bumping into a few old friends I haven't heard from in a while.
Today Trevor Bavage called from the AGS and it took us a good 5 minutes to figure out we knew each other from a club my son used to go to.

This evening was the last Leeds Schools Together meeting before the City of Leeds public meeting which will be at 7pm on February 10th at City of Leeds School, Bedford Field, Woodhouse Cliff.

Tonight was very well attended with a student and her parents from Primrose, as well people from Parklands both of which are going to become academies if Education Leeds goes through with the current proposals. Parklands will also lose its status as Leeds' only girls school and become a coeducational school to serve the new housing on that side of Leeds.

Kathleen Gallagher came from City to tell us what the staff are doing (which is a lot) and I told the meeting about our plan to advertise the public meeting on a leaflet going out with my election address so every household in the ward will know about the threat to City and the public meeting.

It really does feel like the campaign is getting off the ground now and I'm just about ready for it. I'm amazed at the level of support I'm getting, I think some of the political parties might be quite surprised how strong we are.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Standing up for City

Today my campaign flyer went to the printer.

No turning back now; I am committed to delivering 10,000 leaflets asking people in Hyde Park, Little London and Woodhouse to stand up for City of Leeds School and vote for me in the by-election on February 18th.

I had a great lunch with Sue at Orion on Hyde Park corner. I met several local customers and had an awkward moment or two being introduced as 'our local independent candidate'. I'm sure I'll get into the swing of it soon enough but it was quite strange.

This is not something I had thought of doing until Education Leeds decided, yet again, to close City of Leeds.
If City closes my daughter will have to go through the trauma all over again; she still talks about missing Royal Park after 6 years and this will be worse. It is just the wrong age to be moving school even if it wasn't going to be her GCSE year; all that teenage angst, the pressure of exams, and then being split up from her friends, having to travel across the City to much bigger school where she hardly knows anyone and have to get used to new teachers, new rules, new buildings.......

I know it's all about budgets and numbers and bullying from central government but sometimes it feels very personal. When a school has been targeted 4 times it seems like somebody has it in for the children and Royal Park too went through the battle 4 times before Education Leeds finally got its way.

And it's not just schools. The whole area feels more and more neglected.
There are so many people trying so hard to build communities in our area, trying to raise their families, study for their degrees, and just live their lives but something always seems to hold things back. Too often that something seems to be the council.

Take Royal Park.
I remember the public meeting where the community was told that the building would be retained for community use (I even remember the phrasing) as part of regeneration but no matter how hard people fought the council always seemed to have an excuse to block the bids.
But when Headingley Primary closed that building was leased almost immediately to the community for a peppercorn rent.

Why can the council do that for Headingley but not for Hyde Park?

And the flats in Little London, half empty because they were due for demolition, most boarded up but a few still lived in, some of them by families. It must be so bleak bringing children up round there just now, knowing that the new housing promised isn't going to materialise because the council can't afford it any more, just waiting, to move on or for 'refurbishment' - I wonder which will come first?

No high school, overcrowded primary schools, poor housing, not enough green space...............

The local people I met in the cafe were all really supportive and then I hurried off to the Stand up for City campaign meeting at the school.

The staff were very welcoming and liked the proof of my leaflet and the little badges I made.
They were full of ideas but at the same time so concerned about the children.
Apparently a lot of the kids feel completely rubbished by Education Leeds and the proposal to close their school. The document they all received last week is pretty damning of the staff and there seems to be a lot of upset about that too; children need to look up to their teachers and here they were being told that the people they respect and trust, for some of these children, the only people they respect and trust, aren't up to their jobs.

Why does Education Leeds have to do that?

Especially when it simply isn't true.

City of Leeds just had a great Ofsted and my experience is of caring and committed staff who work extremely hard for the kids in their trust.
For my own daughter I couldn't ask for any better.

So proposing to close City was really the straw that broke the camel's back, standing up for City and the whole community by standing in the by-election just seemed the right thing to do.