Each week public affairs correspondent Michael Wilkinson takes an alternative stroll down the corridors of power.
Education vs Profit margins
CUTTING back room costs at Gloucester Academy is high on the agenda this week as the struggling school considers joining the Prospects Academies Trust.
Private firm Prospects, which runs the school, is asking governors to consider joining the trust. If they did, teachers would be able to share ideas and best practice with other schools in the network, such as The Dean Academy, in Lydney.
Crucially for the firm, it could save money by cutting back room costs, teaming up with other schools for big arts and sports events and resorting to virtual teaching on the internet.
Cutting costs should provide more money for teaching.
If that is the case, then the idea should be welcomed but there is always a sense of unease for me when you start mixing private business with education. After all, isn’t business all about profit-making?
A similar school network in Wiltshire has proven to be a huge success, with one school taking the lead at any given time, but that scheme is purely about teachers from different schools working together and putting bulk orders for paper clips in to save on costs.
A recent report showed children from Gloucester's poorest families are 10 times less likely to attend grammar schools than wealthier pupils.
At a time of huge divides between our county’s comprehensive and grammar schools, it has never been more important to ensure that our comp schools are as good as they can be, so this decision must be made with good intentions and not with one eye on profit margins.
Minimum wage debate
MINIMUM wage looks set to rise to £7 if the headlines in the past week are to be believed.
Chancellor George Osborne signalled a major U-turn on the issue in a bid to win Labour votes but some business leaders say that jobs may be put at risk.
Having lived on the minimum wage previously, I can safely tell you that it really doesn’t go very far – especially for people with young families.
It is pleasing that some organisations here in Gloucestershire are leading the way with this, not only giving the minimum wage, but paying out the higher, living wage, to their workers.
Gloucestershire County Council and Quedgeley Parish Council are among the latest to subscribe to the idea.
So, come on, which other Gloucestershire firms will rise to the challenge?
If we all earn that little bit more, we will all spend that bit more, and in turn that will help our economy grow.