Halliburton? KBR?
Enough said!

Birmingham Against The Cuts

How to sell the £1.5bn privatisation of Police services to the public was the main subject of discussion by members of West Midlands Police Authority when they met yesterday. Chris Sims, the Chief Constable said ‘when we start to talk about the offer we will excite the public, what fills the vacuum is negative views.’

This extensive and lucrative privatisation commenced in January when the OJEU notice was published and a bidders’ conference took place on 13th March. The Business Partnering for Police is a partnership with Surrey Police Authority and has the close involvement of the Home Office.

It was reported that the need to manage public criticism of the privatisation proposals was discussed at the Joint Police Board with Surrey Police Authority on Friday which agreed to commit to a joint public engagement strategy.

The meeting decided to extend the procurement timetable for the BPP to enable the…

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The decision to suspend strike action in Birmingham primary schools facing forced academisation is unsurprising given the change in the political complexion of Birmingham City Council and the long-standing union tradition of negotiation in good faith.
HOWEVER… the forced academisation process will not be suspended. It will proceed surreptitiously, furtively, undemocratically and quietly behind closed doors. When announcements are made, it is generally because a deal is signed and sealed – and at a point where it can be debated as openly as you like – because it is faît accompli.
I can’t comment on the possible outcomes of the strike ballots but I would urge those parents who feel that they should be consulted about major changes to the educational provision for their children to make their voices heard; by the school governors, the headteacher, the teachers and their local councillors and member of parliament.
Parents: be aware that school staff may not be able to take the initiative on this, so it really is up to you.

Ask Parents First

The Birmingham Mail has today reported that teaching unions have suspended the strike threat over forced academies at 13 Primaries until they can determine whether the new Labour-run council will support them in standing up against forced academies.  Union leaders have written to Brigid Jones, the new cabinet member for children and family services calling for an “urgent meeting” .

 

It is vital that we as parents let Brigid Jones know our views on forced academies by writing to her as individuals. We must demand that the council supports schools  in resisting academy status that is being forced by the DfE against the wishes of the school community. We must urge Brigid Jones to pass a resolution that no Birmingham school can convert to academy without open and democratic consultation with parents and other stakeholders.

 

Please email Brigid Jones  on Brigid.Jones@birmingham.gov.uk

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‘Parents and LAs are not parties to the FA contract and therefore do not have a direct right to challenge either party if they fail to follow any provision of the contract, such as the duty to have regard to the SEN Code of Practice.’

Chillingly clear: Replace Education Law with Contract Law.

Ask Parents First

Information for parents

Primary Schools across Birmingham are being forced by the Department for Education to become academies.  One of the biggest areas of concern that has emerged from recent parent discussions is provision for children with special educational needs (SEN). This is a complex issue that  is further complicated by differences between what the DfE claims about SEN and academies, and what children and parents actually experience in the real world.  This post aims to highlight the main areas of concern for parents and bring together links and resources where parents can find out more.

This post will look at

  1. Admissions for SEN children seeking a place at an academy
  2. The obligations of an academy to meet a child’s needs

1. Admissions for SEN children seeking a place at an academy

The DfE claims that SEN children have the same rights of admission to an academy as they do…

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With employment agencies now talking about a need for those 50 and over to reskill for another possible 20 years of work the removal of barriers to life long learning and support for mature students ought to be more forthcoming – both from employers and from government.

Lifelong Learning Matters

A recent report, Never Too Late to Learn: Mature Students in Higher Education, concludes that removing state support for access to higher education courses will stop thousands of adults from attending university-level courses as mature students.

The report comes after an 11% decline in the number of university applications by prospective mature students for 2012-13, compared with a fall of 1.6% for applications from sixth formers and says that, “The prospect of either paying higher level 3 course fees [for A Levels and equivalent courses] upfront or taking on one or two years of further education fee loans as a precondition for entry … is likely to act as a major disincentive.”

This is an issue of great concern to the Workers’ Educational Association which was established in 1903 as ‘An Association to promote the Higher Education of Working Men’, specifically to widen access to university-level education for working class people…

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Unemployed Vie For Workfare Placements in NHS Hospital After Cameron Announces Vasectomy Operation There

Pride's Purge

Contrary to reports that the unemployed, including disabled and seriously sick people, are opposed to being made to work for free on government ‘workfare’ schemes, thousands have been volunteering for places in an NHS hospital after it was announced the Prime Minister David Cameron was to have a vasectomy there.

One of them, a registered blind man who has been told he is fit to work and will no longer be receiving disability benefits, explained his reasons for wanting to volunteer to work as an unpaid surgeon in the hospital:

I volunteered for a work experience placement as soon as I heard Cameron was going to have a vasectomy. I’m aware there’s fierce competition – there are lots of people who would love to get their hands on a scalpel and help the Prime Minister with his operation. But he shouldn’t be worried about the fact I can’t really see…

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Birmingham Against The Cuts

Sandwell and Birmingham Hospitals trust have begun using unpaid workfare labour to cover for £125m of cuts to the “ringfenced” NHS budget.

First reported by Eoin Clarke, the story has been picked up by the Guardian, and Right to Work have called a demonstration at Sandwell Hospital on Thursday, from 5pm.

6 people, forced under threat of having their benefits stopped, have taken part in a trial scheme, which has seen them undertake a number of duties including cleaning and running errands but also extending to patient care in non-clinical areas, helping with meals and drinks.

Ravi Subramanian, the head of Unison, West Midlands, said:

Far from Tory claims to protect the NHS, Birmingham and Sandwell hospital trust is being forced to find savings of £125m over the next five years.

Thousands of staff are facing the prospect of losing their jobs and wards are closing. Now…

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The lessons of history are that rebuilding and modernisation are viable alternatives to austerity. The despots of 17th, 18th and 19th century Europe knew this. The US in the 1930s knew this and the post 1939-45 war leaders knew this. That second world war grew out of the post 1914-18 war reparations and the austerity they caused.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

This is part of a series examining the alternatives to cuts and austerity. In this post we look at building a new generation of eco-friendly social housing. This investment would be funded directly by the government and not through expensive PFI deals, creating a stock of council houses that would provide affordable housing, cover increasing demand and help to meet our carbon reduction targets to avert climate change.

At the moment, the construction industry is in trouble, with a fall in output of 4.8% in Q2 2012 as the UK goes back into recession. The Housing report for 2012, compiled by National Housing Federation, Shelter and Chartered for Institute of Housing identifies rising overcrowdedness and homelessness, and cuts to housing benefit see many hundreds of thousands at risk of being unable to afford their homes, including over 11,000 families in Birmingham. On top of this, there is…

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