To the Governors of KEVICC This is a formal complaint by us, parents of students currently at KEVICC, about the way the recent consultation on the uniform was conducted. We feel the management and the governors fell short of the standards of openness and fairness that we would expect from those to whom we entrust our children's education. Our complaints are as follows: 1. The timing of the initial announcement made open debate difficult. A decision that the leadership had known about since the governors' meeting on 10 th January was shared with students and parents (in the sixth paragraph of a letter mainly about other matters) nearly three weeks later, with a mere two weeks allowed for the consultation. Students were then told to fill in their forms within a few days, before any meaningful discussion could be had either with their peers or with their parents. A number of students have informed us that they had been told in tutorials and assemblies that a uniform would be good for the school and 'enhance their learning', and that they were given no opportunity to debate the issue, or hear arguments in favour of the non-uniform policy. We find this kind of manipulation of our children unacceptable. 2. Parents were refused appointments or other opportunities to discuss their concerns with Mrs Mason, either singly or together, during the consultation period. When the subject was raised at a PA meeting , we were told it could not be discussed because it wasn't on the agenda, and Mrs Mason refused absolutely to hold a meeting on the issue before the consultation period ended. The promise of a focus group on the uniform proposal, offered to parents as a method of engagement, was not kept, and follow-up requests ignored. Mrs Mason continues to refuse any public debate on the issue. 3. By maintaining that the distribution of the questionnaire was only the 'first stage' in the consultation, Mrs Mason misled parents. She wrote to a concerned parent: “Governors see this as the beginning of a genuinely open consultation; obtaining people's opinions is only the first stage. Governors will decide on the processes of the next stage of consultation when we have all the responses.” However, in her letter of 17th February she had changed this to “In keeping with the College's ethos, the next stage is to engage as widely as possible with students and staff to work on the nature and style of the uniform.” That narrows down the 'next stage' of consultation to the precise design of the uniform, and excludes parents altogether. No information has yet been given to students or parents on the different possibilities for a uniform. Once again, we and our children feel manipulated. 4. A 'consultation' suddenly became a vote. The questionnaire sent out by the management asked a single yes/no question, and allowed a centimetre to put comments in. The word 'uniform' was not used on the accompanying letter. Further comments were not invited, though we understand many were sent. There was no indication of what kind of uniform was envisaged, and no opportunity for participants to express a view on this. As a consultation, this seems less than thorough, but as a general indication of opinion it had some use. We were told very clearly, at the PA meeting and in writing, and both by the Chair of governors and by the Principal, that it was only a consultation, not a vote; this was the understanding of people on both sides of the argument. However, Mrs Mason used the word 'vote' repeatedly in
speaking to the local media and claimed that it gave a two thirds majority for the uniform. If it was a vote, she should have said so from the start. There was no control to safeguard against abuse of the ballot, and her 'electorate' was weighted heavily towards the desired result. Moreover, the detailed figures were held back until after she had spoken to the media, and closer examination showed these figures were open to very different interpretations. According to the questionnaire, 45% of students and 44% of parents â€“ nearly half â€“ were against a uniform. 5. A uniform, as yet unspecified, will now be forced upon a very large minority of reluctant students, who, along with their parents, feel that the process was unfair and that their voices were not heard. Whatever boxes may have been ticked, that will remain a fact. A large group of parents who would normally have supported the school at a difficult time will now be suspicious of the senior management, and mistrustful of any attempts at consultation in the future. What this means is a divided school, at a time, following the OFSTED report, when there is more need than ever to work together. Having embarked upon this process of consultation, it was the responsibility of the governors to ensure it was open and honest. Our strong feeling is that the process was manipulated to obtain the required result, and consequently it is very hard to accept it. This sits uncomfortably with the ethos of a Co-operative Trust, as invoked by Mrs Mason in her first letter. Divisions within the school and the wider community have been increased. It has seemed to us that the school management worked on a conflict model to achieve their preferred policy, rather than seeking consensus. We are disappointed that the governors allowed this to happen. Please answer this letter in detail. This is a serious matter involving the trust and confidence of a large number of parents. We wish for a response from the governing body before the end of term. If that necessitates an extraordinary meeting of the governors, we now request that. Yours faithfully
To the Governors of KEVICC This is a formal complaint by us, parents of students currently at KEVICC, about the way the recent consultation on the uniform was conducted. (cont)
Published on Mar 28, 2012
Published on Mar 28, 2012
To the Governors of KEVICC Our complaints are as follows: Yours faithfully This is a formal complaint by us, parents of students currently a...