Ash pearce - Labour Church Ward Councillor
Church's Labour Team, led by our Councillor Ashley Pearce

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Monthly Archives: October 2019

November events

Councillor’s advice surgery: Church Ward Councillors will be available to discuss any issues with residents on Saturday 2nd November at 10.30am-12pm at The Whitley Café. The rugby world cup final will also be showing at the same time!

Canvassing– Councillors and activists will be out speaking to residents on Sunday 3rd November at 11am on Foxhays Road, Northumberland Avenue, Blagdon Road & Cressingham Road.

Full Council meeting: Church Ward Councillors will be in attendance at the Full Council meeting on Monday 4th at 6.30pm at the Civic Centre where Ashley will be proposing a motion against high stakes testing in primary schools.

Remembrance service– Church Ward Councillors will pay their respects on the morning of Sunday 10th at St Mary’s Butts before a march through town.

Policy Committee meeting: Ashley will be present in his role as Lead member for education on Monday 18th at 6.30pm at the Civic Centre.

Head teachers climate change conference: Ashley will introduce an afternoon of events that will help head teachers from across Reading have a greater focus on climate change in each of their respective schools. The event starts at 1pm at Alfred Sutton school on Monday 4th November.

Prospect school visit: Ashley will be visiting Prospect School in West Reading to meet head teacher David Littlemore to discuss the good work happening there on Friday 8th November.

General election: As you may have heard, a general election has been called for Thursday December 12th. Here in Reading East you get to vote for the excellent Matt Rodda for Labour. If you would like a postal vote please contact us or the Council. Remember polling stations on the day are at Ridgeway school, scout hut on Northcourt Avenue, Christ The King Church on Northumberland Avenue and the community centre on Northumberland.

Church Ward news: Also this month Councillors will start asking groups for dates to input into the updated South Reading calendar due in January, will be exploring speed calming measures with Council officers regarding Cressingham Road/Northcourt Avenue area, and various planning matters are also being investigated.

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We are Whitley logo design competition

Shift youth and community will soon be launching a logo design competition for youngsters living or attending school in Whitley. Details are set out below.

We are Whitley’ Logo Design Competition
The purpose of this competition is to give young people an opportunity to create a unique logo that celebrates the Whitley community.
It is being organised by Shift Youth + Community (SYC), a local charity working with disadvantaged children, young people and communities in Whitley.

Eligibility Criteria
Participants must be either residents of Whitley or study at one of the primary or secondary schools.

Entry Requirements and Important Dates
Competition begins on Thursday, 2nd January 2020.
One logo design per participant is permitted.
Participants can choose to design a paper-based or digital logo.
Paper-based logos should be submitted to the teacher in-charge. SYC will collect them from your school starting 10th Feb. to 14th Feb 2020. Designs could also be posted or dropped off to this address by Friday, 14th February 2020: Shift Youth + Community, c/o Tyndale Baptist Church, 2-4 Cressingham Road, RG2 7JE.
Digital logos must be emailed to reneta.kuttan@syc.life by 14th February 2020 in JPEG format (file size should be 2 MB or less).
Designs must be created using no more than 4 colours. A short description of 250-300 words explaining the rationale of your logo design must be provided.
Participants need to provide the following information for contact purposes: Full name, date of birth, school, year group, teacher in-charge, and postcode.
(Note: Participant information will be discarded at the end of the competition.)

Judging Process
Once all the designs have been submitted, they will be judged by a panel of representatives from the Whitley community.
Designs will be marked on the following criteria: Originality, aesthetic quality, relevance to the theme, adaptability to different platforms.

Other Terms and Conditions
By submitting the design, you confirm that it is original and not copied from any other source.
The winning designs will be used at the South Reading Churches Fun Day, Whitley notice boards, and community centres. The designs may be further incorporated on the different promotional materials for Whitley.
SYC will contact winning participants by 24th March 2020. Incase, SYC is unable to reach you, the runner up from shortlisted entries will be given the winning position. So, please ensure you share the correct information.

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High stakes testing motion

These tests are flawed and have a detrimental effect on students, teachers and parents. The stress, worry and anxiety add hugely to teacher’s workload, they worsen students experience and view of education whilst adding to mental health problem and add undue pressure to households as we’ve heard from fellow Councillors tonight. And for what end? All educational research points to regular LOW stakes testing being the key to raising pupil retention of knowledge and then attainment, not the extreme pressure testing that SAT’s provide. This is not to say that there doesn’t need to be some form of assessment of pupil performance, but this system needs to be a more flexible and more practical system that trusts and empowers teachers. At the moment, teachers are being forced to teach to the test when they could be doing so much more to enrich students lives with the opportunity’s education gives us. Virgin have recently said that they will no longer be looking at exam results when recruiting staff, this may be a bit further up the education timeline than SAT’s but echoes what Jeremy Corbyn recently said and I wholeheartedly agree with-“We need to prepare children for life, not just for exams”. The full motion is set out below.

This council believes that campaigning, by those who work in primary schools, parents and academics, to end the current high-stakes system of primary assessment should be welcomed, in particular the More Than A Score campaign.
Reading Borough Council resolves:
1) To express its support for campaigns against the current system of primary assessment from parents, Governors, Schools and teaching unions.
2) To call a meeting of all interested parties to discuss the council’s position on these matters and to coordinate a response.
3) To lobby the Secretary of State for Education to listen to the growing number of voices who are calling for the abolition of high-stakes testing in primary schools.
4) To offer support and guidance to schools within the area which adopt an alternative approach to assessment

Reading Borough Council welcomes the commitment of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party to abolish SATs and other high-stakes testing in primary schools.
It notes that:
1) Statutory testing in primary schools has increased since 2010 and is increasing further: by 2020, children will be tested in Reception (the Baseline Assessment), Year 1 (the Phonics Screening Check), Year 2 (SATs), Year 4 (the Multiplication Tables Check) and Year 6 (SATs).
2) The pressures of statutory assessment contribute to the crisis of teacher morale, workload, recruitment and retention.
3) Tests are focussed on the requirements of school accountability and league tables rather than on support for children’s learning.
4) The pressures of testing in primary schools have a detrimental effect on children’s mental health.
5) Educational research has demonstrated repeatedly that teaching to the test narrows the curriculum and the educational experience of children, focussing on labelling, learning how to pass a test but not learning.

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School standards and attainment: 2018/19-October ACE report

At my school we have a marking policy not unfamiliar in many schools, ours is WWW and EBW or What Went Well and Even Better When. This is a system that works as it picks out the positives in students work but also gives pointers as to where improvements can be made. I think this is also an apt way of looking at school standards in Reading from the last year. Difficult to some in this politically divided day and age where everything is either all good or all bad but in reality, the truth lies somewhere in between.

So to start with the WWW. More parents are choosing Reading schools to educate their children than previously, bums on seats is one of the best indicators of progress for schools. Exclusions are falling, both the rate of them and the number of them. This is in no small part to the work across our schools of the Therapeutic Thinking approach which the majority of our schools have signed up to. The percentage of our schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted has increased from 77-85%. Despite my many misgivings regarding Ofsted, this must be celebrated and huge congratulations to those schools who have recently endured the stress and addition to workload of a visit and come out the other side. When we get the validated results, we can say more at a future ACE meeting regarding overall A-level and GCSE scores but initial indications show us that these are also on the increase from last year.

But we know we also have some work to do to be even better. At key stage 2 the gap in results between our schools and the national average is falling but there is still a gap. Whether locally maintained, Academies or Free schools these are the young people of Reading and all deserve the best start, so we need to find a way of working with our non LA schools to drive improvement. There is a similar picture with our disadvantaged students which is one of the focuses of our education strategy, the gap is falling but there is still a gap which we must close. We also know that we need to improve our provision and offer with regards to SEN, another focus of our education strategy, and steps are in place to increase capacity in the first instance.

So it is a mixed picture across education in Reading but I would like to stress schools don’t operate in a vacuum. Schools operate in a society and context that other factors, especially Government driven factors have a massive impact. Some areas of Reading have an 11-year difference in life expectancy from one another, but we don’t bang on the doors of GP surgeries and blame them. But we do with schools. A decade of austerity has seen teachers’ pay cut massively with workload rising, funding per pupil in schools has fallen by 8% (nearly double this for SEN students), constant meddling of curriculum but also wider social factors have a massive impact-universal credit, low wages, poor and temporary housing, the closing and thinning out of youth services and early years help. All of these things have an impact on our young people’s lives and education, its just often teachers and schools that carry the can.

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Road safety improvements for ward

There is a proposal from Ashley for an extension to the existing 20mph zone on Northumberland Avenue, extending beyond Reading Girls School. The request also includes an improved crossing facility outside the school. The element to extend the 20mph zone has received CIL funding and we have commenced initial investigations.

A recommended concept design has been developed that we believe to be deliverable. The proposed scheme includes a combination of traffic calming measures and also two informal crossing points with herringbone imprints – we felt that these would be a welcome enhancement.

A proposal to install a zebra crossing on Whitley Wood Road to improve pedestrian access to The Ridgeway Primary School has also been put forward. The proposed scheme includes a zebra crossing on Whitley Wood Road at the top of the hill (between Hillbrow and Rushden Drive), and an informal crossing point with a herringbone imprint between the existing traffic island at the bottom of the hill (by the roundabout with Hartland Road). The design shows the introduction of some waiting restrictions, therefore a statutory consultation will be required.

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Community safety survey

Overview

The purpose of this survey is to ask residents their views about issues such as crime and disorder and other local issues, to help identify priorities across Reading.  The Safer Neighbourhood Forums are required to consult on priorities with a community safety focus every 2 years.  

Why We Are Consulting

This community safety survey is being carried out across Reading to inform our neighbourhood working and local safer neighbourhood forums to find out what issues residents consider to be their highest priority at present.  Whilst we will look at all issues raised in this survey in order to compare local concerns to previous consultations, we will not be able to impact on all of them and issues such as pot holes and parking may be referred back to the relevant service if there are sufficient concerns.  Feedback from this survey will be looked at in conjunction with the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) priorities for Reading and locally reported crime across the Borough alongside the British Crime Survey and priorities identified by Thames Valley Police.  Priorities will then be set accordingly.

https://consult.reading.gov.uk/dens/community-safety-survey-2019/
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School Funding promises not enough

Whilst any additional funding to schools is welcome this is not sufficient to plug the gaps schools have suffered at the hands of nearly a decade of Government cuts. This still leaves schools with less funding than 2010 as schools have seen budgets slashed every year of this Conservative Government.

Teachers wages have also seen a huge real terms decline whilst workload has increased. A decade of slashed funding has seen buildings become outdated, teaching assistants let go, teachers not being replaced, dwindling resources and in some cases, parents being asked to cover costs that Government should be funding. During this time schools costs have also rocketed-with salary increases, pension contributions and NI contributions all rising but not funded by Government. 

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