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Posted by: John Brace | 27th October 2014

4 week consultation on closure of Lyndale School starts: does Wirral Council really know how many pupils are there?

4 week consultation on closure of Lyndale School starts: does Wirral Council really know how many pupils are there?

                                                                  

Councillor Phil Gilchrist explains his amendment on the minority report on Lyndale School to councillors, officers and the public 2nd October 2014 Council Chamber, Wallasey Town Hall (c) John Brace

Councillor Phil Gilchrist explains his amendment on the minority report on Lyndale School to councillors, officers and the public 20th October 2014 Council Chamber, Wallasey Town Hall (c) John Brace

Following the Council meeting on the 20th October 2014 when Labour councillors voted to go ahead to the next stage on closure of Lyndale School, Wirral Council started on the 22nd October 2014 its four-week consultation on closure which finishes on 19th November 2014. After this consultation is finished, the results of this consultation will be reported back to Wirral Council’s Cabinet.

Proposal to cease to maintain the Lyndale School

Complete Proposal

You can also ask for copies of the proposals by calling 0151 606 2020 during office hours or writing to:

Julia Hassall
Director of Children’s Services
Hamilton Building
Conway Street
Birkenhead
CH41 4FD

The above files I’ve linked to are the new files in this current consultation.

You can respond to the consultation in one of two ways, either by email to specialreview@wirral.gov.uk or by mail to:

Julia Hassall
Director of Children’s Services
Hamilton Building
Conway Street
Birkenhead
CH41 4FD

I am unsure at this stage which Cabinet meeting the outcome of this four-week consultation on the closure of Lyndale School will go to. At the time of writing the following Cabinet meetings are scheduled for after the end of the consultation:

27th November 2014 | Special Meeting, Cabinet | Committee Room 1 – Wallasey Town Hall | starting at 6.15pm
9th December 2014 | Cabinet | Committee Room 1 – Wallasey Town Hall | starting at 6.15pm

Personally as the 27th November is a special meeting and occurs exactly one week and a day after the consultation ends, I would guess that this will be the public meeting at which the outcome of the second consultation and a further decision will be made. As agendas and reports have to be published at least a week before holding a Cabinet meeting, 27th November 2014 would be the earliest date it could be held.

However if this matter is called in after the Cabinet decision after the consultation and there are more delays in the process taking it past February 2015, it would make setting the 2015-16 Schools Budget problematic.

The reason is that if a final decision on closure is not made before February 2015, a contingency of funding Lyndale School from the proposed date of closure (January 1st 2016) to the end of that financial year (March 2016) would have to be added to the schools budget for 2015-16 of ~£140,000.

There are legal limits on when the 2015-16 Schools Budget has to be decided by and as there were delays earlier this year, I can see the next stages moving as fast as is humanly possible at Wirral Council (which when you do things as fast as you possibly can inevitably leads to mistakes).

However I would like to point out that the current consultation has at least one contradictory fact in Surjit Tour’s letter to me of the 30th September 2014 (although Mr. Tour obviously has to rely on what he’s told and take it at face value as I seriously doubt (although I could of course be wrong) that Mr. Tour visited Lyndale School and started asking children how old they are). I’ll explain what I mean (with references):

Here is the 13 page response from Mr. Tour. In it he states:

“8. Background

8.1 Lyndale School is a special school providing specialist educational provision for primary aged pupils, the majority of whom have Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (“PMLD”). There are 21 pupils currently on the roll, nine of whom will be transitioning to secondary school by the end of the 2015/16 academic year. The declining number of students admitted to Lyndale over recent years has drawn into question The Lyndale’s financial viability for the future.”

When I read Surjit Tour’s reply a few weeks ago, I thought it a bit odd that out of the eight year groups at Lyndale School, that almost half the school (nine out of twenty-one) would be in the final year and therefore leave to secondary school in September 2015 and not be affected by the proposals to close it. It seemed unusual at the time.

Mr. Tour repeatedly states throughout his letter that I have not provided evidence of my facts. However the evidence that proves him wrong on this was in fact published by Wirral Council on the 22nd October 2014 as part of the current consultation. Here is the table published as part of the Complete Proposal. The table is Pupil admissions and numbers.

F1 F2 Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4 Y5 Y6 Total
October
2014

Boys
Girls

3

2
1

1

0
1

3

1
2

2

2
0

3

3
0

1

1
0

6

2
4

2

1
1

21

12
9

December
2015

Boys
Girls

0



3

2
1

1

0
1

3

1
2

2

2
0

3

3
0

1

1
0

6

2
4

19

11
8

Number in each year group in December 2015 assumes that all current pupils remain on roll, that no new children are admitted to F1 (Nursery) in September 2015, and that no further children join or leave other year groups from October 2014 onwards.

As you can see from the table above there are two children (one boy and one girl) in year 6 at Lyndale School who will start at a secondary school in September 2015, not nine as claimed by Surjit Tour in his letter.

This then has an effect on other numbers used in his letter.

According to Surjit Tour 21-9 = 12 (twelve pupils left in September 2015)
According to Julia Hassall 21-2 = 19 (nineteen pupils left in September 2015)

So who do I trust to give the correct figure for pupils at the Lyndale School? The Head of Legal and Member Services (Surjit Tour) or the Director of Children’s Services (Julia Hassall)? They can’t both be right, can they?

On the balance of probabilities because:

a) Julia Hassall actually works in the area of Wirral Council with responsibility for schools
b) that it seems highly unlikely that nine of the twenty-one pupils at Lyndale School (spanning eight year groups) would be in the last year group

I’m veering towards believing Ms Hassall (although I never really relish taking sides when two people in Wirral Council’s senior management team are giving out contradictory information).

There is also the point that someone could have misread the table above and used the total number of girls presently at the school (nine) instead of the number of pupils in year six (two) and given that information to Surjit Tour to use in his letter.

Isn’t it weird though that when Wirral Council makes a mistake like this, it always coincides with their world view of a “small school” (in this case seven pupils less than it actually is)?

If Wirral Council can’t get basic facts such as how many pupils of what age are at Lyndale School right, is it any wonder that there are problems of trust between those associated with Lyndale School and Wirral Council?

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Responses

  1. All that you seek is in all that you have.

    • A rather cryptic comment, but what is it I’m supposed to be seeking?

  2. What is it that all (Well Nearly All) People Seek, the Truth !!!!! When is a Judicial Review, not a Judicial Review?

    • Judicial reviews are always difficult when public sector employees don’t tell the truth as time and expense on both sides is taken up with resubmitting witness statements, further cross examination as to why et cetera.

      Suing a public body in this country (in whatever court) is a nightmare really for both sides…

  3. You have perhaps!! have not understood, When is a Judicial Review, not a Judicial Review? besides not having “Standing” when/or

    • I’m sorry, I’ll be totally frank and honest here and just say I don’t understand your question.

  4. G’day John

    I’m confused.

    So let me rave on about something I know.

    Big, ISUS, Working Neighbourhoods Special Fudgit and Risk It Special WHITEWASH Meeting of 8 October.

    How silly was “Graham Burge(r with the lot plus super duper car and 7 mistakes http://goo.gl/znBccO in 29 seconds)ss’” to wheel them all out and get them to speak up in front of your super duper new camera with swivelling tripod (with lie detector).

    John I had lunch yesterday compliments of “Highbrow” what a laugh my ribs are still aching.

    Guess which new television celebrity was a victim of Wirral Funny Biz?

    What else MY “Tarrantino of The Wirral” made me laugh my bits off “Highbrow” has arranged, not with you knowing how busy you are keeping these barstards in line, he has arranged with “Spielberg of New Brighton” to put on film the bits of that Special Meeting were untruths are being told.

    I don’t know if it is “Highbrows” film debut but it will be a classic.

    I wish you had been there John, in a French Restaurant were he was the only one fluent in French, phonies like WBC.

    Back to the “Highbrow” production he intends to cut in and correct the untruths as he wasn’t allowed on the night. There are several I am told.

    Ridiculous statements like it wasn’t our money, the company had been going for ten years and “Deputy Dawg” who they paraded cos he can speak proper saying he didn’t think the officers had done anything wrong. Didn’t he read all the 600+ pages and the rubbish of the ex auditor.

    Anyway I won’t steal “Highbrows” thunder he can even point out the body language when one of my favourites is lying. “The Shyster” knows which one I mean.

    Or, was “Graham Burge(r with the lot plus super duper car and 7 mistakes http://goo.gl/znBccO in 29 seconds)ss’” being very very very clever putting them on tape to fall over themselves ON AIR??????

    Well done you.

    Ooroo

    James

    Ps John “Highbrow” has still got so much in his locker

    Now dear boy get back on that Lyndale case and you will get that OBE “Highbrow” is going to nominate you for.

    • I am currently writing a piece about Lyndale School, but have taken a break from it to approve and reply to your comment. 🙂


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