The Greater Shankill Scam

The Greater Shankill Partnership [“GSP”] is masterminded from the Spectrum Centre.

The Greater Shankill Neighbourhood Renewal Plan was ‘declared’ in 2007.

[NB. It is always important to apply imposing names to these matters.]

Who and what is the ‘Greater Shankill’?

It’s an area of North Belfast, mostly the Protestant bit, though 12% may be Roman Catholic. Its population is 18,028, at the last census.

In the last year that figures are available, the GSP spent £974,000 on wages.

It has produced an “Action Plan” for 2017-2018. This plan has achieved legitimacy because it was approved by the “Greater Shankill Community Convention” and adopted by “the area’s Neighbourhood Partnership”.

So there! When I think of the Convention I think of Revolutionary France. How those delegates in the Spectrum Centre must have questioned the management!

Before examining the plan , let’s examine some statistics.

The percentage seeking jobseekers allowance has increased from 7% in 2003 to 10.8% in 2014. Much greater than the general populace.

Income support has also increased compared to the outside world.

Education

Those in the area achieving Key Stage 1 level 2 or above in maths fell from 92.2% in 2005/6 to 85.4% in 2011/12. The national figure in 2011/12 was 95.8%.

In English, on the same basis, the GSP figure for 2011/12 was 82.3% ; the national figure was 94.8%.

Not so bad , you might think. But consider the next statistic.

At least 5 GCSE passes at A*-C including English and maths. In 2007/08 the GSP figure was 18.9%. This showed a significant improvement to 36.5% in 2012/13. But the national figure that year was 65.9%, almost double.

The GSP don’t even bother with A level statistics.

How many children are we talking about? It would appear that the figure of those of school age is significantly under 2,000, perhaps 1,700.

So, what’s the plan?

Well, this organisation which employs over fifty people and spends nearly one million pounds a year on wages, doesn’t really have one.

Here’s their action plan for 2017/18.

They are going to “engage in conversations with 100 children and young people”. They are going to “audit ” services. They are going to give “sustained support co-ordinated for 100 children and young people”.
They are going to “Establish a platform for the Zone’s development and implementation”, and continue working with QUB.
At this point in time , Dear Reader, your bullshit detector may be tweeting.
Don’t you love a “platform” “implementation” and the addition of a pretty discredited university?
You are correct. There is not one word as to how this plan will be measured for success or not.
Meantime those fifty plus people, including some who are paid well above the national average, will keep their jobs, slaving away in the Spectrum Centre.
That’s over £500 for every child of school age on the Shankill.
If you desire some acupuncture it’s free but if you want your child to avail of the summer programme for moving to secondary school, it will cost you £10. This must say something about the management.
But there is worse!
Glenwood Primary School is yards from the Spectrum Centre.
The Education and Training Inspectorate report conclusion in January 2013 stated:
“In almost all of the areas inspected, the quality of education provided in this school is inadequate; the areas for improvement outweigh the strengths in the provision. The inspection has identified significant areas for improvement in leadership and management, standards, and learning and teaching which need to be addressed urgently if the school is to meet effectively the needs of the all the children.”
A subsequent report , in May 2104 , concluded:
“In the areas inspected, the quality of education provided by this school is now good. The school has important strengths in most of its educational (and pastoral) provision. The inspection has identified an area for improvement which the school has demonstrated the capacity to address.
There remains the need to:

• continue to raise the standards achieved in literacy and numeracy and embed the good practice which has begun.

The Education and Training Inspectorate will monitor, through district inspection activity, the school’s progress on the area for improvement.”

It is truly astonishing that those who were governors of this school in the relevant years, allowed it to sink to a position where the ETI had to intervene.

So let’s wait a year and see what the Spectrum Centre produces for those 1,700 or so children of the deprived Shankill.

Aside from their own salaries and pensions.

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