Plea for More Clarity in Council's Consultation on School Closures Mergers and Changes to Catchment Areas
Laurie Bidwell , Labour's Education spokesperson on Dundee City Council
15 January 2015
Last Friday, the Director of Education circulated letters that will be all those people connected with schools that may close, merge or have their catchment area altered.
The folk involved includes, parents, carers, teachers and other school staff as well as pupils.
There are four consultations and each one has a letter to tell the folk affected about the proposed changes in their school and ask them to respond.
There is also information about a public meeting in each area.
On Monday of this week, the Council published on their website the more four detailed consultation documents, so anyone interested can read these.
All four consultations close on Friday 27 February 2015.
Both the letters and the longer documents are a real challenge to read through.
The letters take a long time to get to the point.
For example, if your child lives in Lochee or Menzieshill, the important point is that the Council is asking you what you think about closing down Menziesshill High School in June 2016 and transferring pupils from your area to Harris Academy instead.
Some of the terms used are also a bit obscure.
For example, was it really necessary to use a words like redeliniation of the catchment area when change the catchment area would have been clearer?
I decided to check out the Director of Education's consultation letter using an online reading test.
When I uploaded the letter for parents and carers affected by the proposed closure of Menzieshill High School and Harris Academy, it came out with the following:
'Your score is 28.2
That's really hard going.
This letter is at the same reading level as the Harvard Law Review.
Chances are, you could do a few things to simplify it.
How does that score compare (roughly)?
Score Which is like
90 Most comic books
80 Harry Potter
60 BBC news website
40 The Financial Times
30 Harvard Law Review'
I think that says it all.
The Council clearly could improve on it's clarity of communication with all those it wants to be involved in these four consultations.
I hope there is still time for an alternative set of leaflets or flyers to be produced and circulated by the Education Department.
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