I WRITE on the subject of academies from the viewpoint of a former head teacher and local authority adviser.Š

The invitation to schools to opt out of local authority control is a tactic comparable to a spider inviting a fly into its parlour or to offering Snow White a poisoned apple.

The Academy Act 2010 created the conditions for the government to dismantle the system by which education in England and Wales is publicly funded.

At present schools serve their communities and are provided for and supported by taxpayers.ŠThe quality of schools varies because of their leadership,Šnot because of their place in a local education system.

A strong headteacher with a supportive governing body has a duty to fight hard to get the best for their school.Š

Headteachers, either alone or as a group, exert great influence on local education. The stated reason for applying for academy status by one local school is greed and the intention of grabbing extra resources quite legally, but to the detriment of neighbouring schools.ŠThis selfishness could be self-destructive.Š

The present system has its shortcomings, but it also has the means to overcome them.

Shortages in schools have been made worse by money being diverted for new academies.Š There is no cost to the government, but there is to local schools.

Existing academies are not all having an easy time.Š For example, Basildon Lower Academy in Essex is losing 30 teaching assistants and other support staff because of cuts in government funding.Š

There is no way at present that schools in this position can help themselves.Š

Since the government is unlikely to bail out a failing school, the governing body will have to find the money.Š

I suggest that academies will soon be given the power to charge fees.ŠBefore 1944 county secondary schools offered a limited number of fee-paying places so a precedent has been set.

Schools are not commercial businesses and all who are concerned about our children’s future should try to prevent them becoming so.

Ernest Potter


Permits and pavements

SO it appears the residents on several streets near the Galpharm Stadium have had permits to enable them to park outside their own homes for the past five years.

How very nice for them. Do they not realise that a lot more Kirklees taxpaying residents would give anything for this option and be prepared to pay for the privilege.

Although I don’t live near the stadium I can assure them that a lot of areas have the same problems 24/7 with inconsiderate drivers.

One of the biggest complaints is parking on pavements which, looking at the Examiner’s photograph, still seems to happen when permits are issued.

Pavements are for pedestrians and car drivers pay their tax for the road.

Perhaps it’s time a pavement parking tax should be introduced.

The permit holding residents are now demanding that the payment should be met by Giants/Town when it is not their responsibility.

It is all down to the drivers.



Speed doesn’t kill

IN his letter in reply to mine on the speed limit changes for Meltham Road, from Netherton, Clr Terry Lyons says “Speed kills – or doesn’t he believe that applies to him (me)?”

Actually, councillor, I don’t, because it does not apply to anybody. If it did, those travelling in jets at 500+ mph would have a short life and as for astronauts at 25,000mph?

Speed Kills is a meaningless slogan, dreamed up by some whizz-kid and repeated ad nauseam by those with the desire to reduce all speed limits, irrespective of necessity or desirability.

Speed does not kill. It is a massive change in kinetic energy in a collision leading to violent acceleration (pedestrian struck by a vehicle) or violent deceleration (vehicle hitting wall or tree), probably accompanied by crushing, which does the killing.

The cause of the collision, excluding mechanical failure or illness, is generally substandard driving and/or irresponsible, thoughtless pedestrians.

The only contribution of speed is the degree of energy present at the time of the collision.

A L Jones


No fuss digital TV

NO-ONE should have any real problems with the digital switchover since they can call Digital UK for free help and advice.

And if they are old or infirm or on disability benefits etc, they will get equipment for free or at a much less cost then the retailers and installers on the High Street.

The only people who will have any problems are those who have not bought a digibox for their old TV or a Freeview or have Freesat TV already.

I am 65 and my partner is 62 so we were not brought up with a great techno knowhow.

The simplest way is a digibox but try and buy a more upmarket one for future proof or one that has add ons like a slot for a pay TV card.

This was the first thing I bought about 18 months ago and it gave me digital TV while I could not afford a TV with Freeview or Freesat built in.

Eventually I bought a Freeview TV and it tunes itself in with some simple pressing of the remote buttons.

Now through Digital UK we have had Freesat installed. It was no fuss. An engineer booked through Digital UK made no mess and did the wiring very cleanly.

The cost is from zero to £239 depending on circumstances and what you require.

We had dish, installation and HD box for £111. It is on the website.

No-one needs to be confused by retailers or installers or pay through the nose. Even the young can get advice, if not the discounts.

For the record, I have read about multi recording PRVs and had one when I had Virgin Media.

I now get almost the same, if not the same, as Sky Freesat for nothing – about 150 channels. I get BBC I-Player and ITV is on the way.

No-one needs to pay £50 or £60 a month unless they want a lot of football or films.

Martin Fletcher


Young and old together

OVER the last few weeks a number of letters have talked about the empty shops within Huddersfield’s town centre.

I was in one of these empty properties in the Packhorse Centre and was delighted with its temporary residents. The shop gave a chance for us all to see some inspiring projects that brought together young and elderly people within a neighbourhood.

Pupils at Royds Hall High School had hosted a Christmas meal for local older residents.

St Thomas’ School in Bradley had worked with local residents to design two colourful wall hangings for the school and the residential home.

Other local schools such as Crow Lane, Milnsbridge, Cowlersley, Paddock and Christ Church, Sheepridge, used imaginative ways of bridging the age gap.

I was particularly impressed by the project leaders having taken many of those involved to the theatre where the audience ranged in age from five to 95.

It was a joy to see how young and old are able to learn and enjoy each other’s company.

While this use of shops might not be a long term answer to our empty retail properties, the occupancy of this empty unit gave shoppers a chance to see the positive work that is being undertaken in our schools to bring together young and older residents within Huddersfield.

I look forward to being invited to see the results of other projects in the future.

Clr Hilary Richards


Meningitis research

IT was heartening to read your article on June 29 about nine-year-old Alex McDade, who has been celebrating success with fellow drivers at the South Yorkshire Kart Club after battling back from meningitis as a baby.

We hope that he continues to make good progress and enjoys further success in the sport.

Meningitis is often incredibly difficult to detect as the symptoms are hard to distinguish from the common cold and flu, plus there are occasions when people show no or very few symptoms.

For all these reasons, we believe prevention is the only way to truly eradicate the disease and developing a preventative vaccine to protect against all forms of meningitis and its associated diseases is our sole focus at Meningitis UK.

Our Search 4 a Vaccine Campaign aims to raise £7m to fund lifesaving research into eradicating all forms of meningitis.

In the absence of a vaccine, we also distribute a wide range of material to raise awareness of the common symptoms and the need to act quickly, which can mean the difference between life and death.

If any of your readers would like a symptoms information pack – including wallet-sized symptoms cards – or to find out more about supporting our Search 4 a Vaccine Campaign, they can call Meningitis UK on 0117 373 7373 or visit www.meningitisUK.org

Melanie Jago

Meningitis UK