Why won't they engage with the community?

Steve Maguire's picture
My story concerns the proposal to open a free school in Stoke By Nayland, Suffolk. The group to date refuse to answer any of my questions

It must be a right to hear a public debate not merely a privilege. I feel that the lack of response from the free school proposer's in my community is devisive, dismissive and arrogant. The tactics being employed by the group setting up this free school in Stoke by Nayland (Suffolk) is a flagrant breach of the fundamental processes of public debate.
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Sarah's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 07:52

Steve, this is standard territory for Free Schools. Groups who are led by individuals who prefer to remain anonymous for as long as possible, extremely selective approach to how and with whom they choose to 'consult' and a very poor threshold of evidence required to demonstrate need. If any local authority had attempted to introduce new school provision based on this consultation methodology they would have found themselves subject to judicial review in very short order. It's scandalous that there is no proper and transparent consultation, no transparent decision making and no proper means of appeal. It flouts all the rules of democracy and natural justice.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 14:04

And don't forget that if there is a public meeting, and the locals vote down the proposals, then this must mean that the locals have been unduly influenced by vocal agitators (including the Local Schools Network) according to one Tory MP:


Steve Maguire's picture
Thu, 16/06/2011 - 22:06

Just to back up a number of points that have been made. This Facebook exchange appears on the SBNHC facebook page. Ronan Connolly is heading up the free school parents.

Ronan Connolly: Hi Everyone. Yesterday we submitted our application to the Department for Education. It's been a huge task, and we've been humbled by the emails and messages of support, and help which we've had from the community. We have a very strong business case submitted now. There are a number of questions outstanding, that peop...le have asked, after the event last Thursday and we will aim to respond to all questions within 10 days of receiving them. We will take answers to key questions that come up, and put them into our FAQ section on the website.
Thanks again

Steve 'Jukebox' Maguire: Ronan - Relying on FAQ's is another example of evading engagement with the community. As a parent I am disappointed that you continually bridge questions and do not address the concerns of a large number of parents. I would invite you to change your tact and Frequently ANSWER questions, instead!

Ronan Connolly: Steve, I'm afraid you've misunderstood the post. We will seek to respond to questions within 10 days, AND we will also put the answers to key questions onto the FAQs.

Steve 'Jukebox' Maguire: Ronan: - Thank you for your response, I was providing an opinion on FAQ's in the context of the SBNHC wiebsite and not in response to your post - so therefore I disagree that I have mis understood the post. What I do not understand is why y...ou decide to challenge what I have said in an open forum in order to make it look like I have made an error of judgement ( which for you has completely backfired) but when it comes to answering important questions that have been raised continually from concerned parents you have remained silent and kept your head below the parapet! I am glad that you have finally decided to engage with me and long may it continue. While you are there maybe you can answer this question that you have failed to answer on so many occasions - Explain to me and other parents why you believe that it is in the interests of fairness, democracy and social justice to submit a business case for the opening of Stoke By Nayland High school without first engaging in a public debate where arguments for and against the proposal can be heard in order for everyone to have an oppurtunity to decide whether a school is needed in our community!

You guessed it he didn't reply! I guess that backs up your point Sarah.

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