Thursday, 15 April 2010

Four Funerals and no Wedding

I naively assumed that we voted in councillors and members of Parliament to represent and support us. My belief in democracy is teetering on a precipice.

At the last local by-election for Hyde Park and Woodhouse, two thousand plus electors voted for candidates all of whom made an election commitment to keep City of Leeds School open. Our two local MPS [Greg and Hilary, thanks, boys] have publicly backed the school.

Then, at a local ward forum last week, one councillor desribed City of Leeds as a poor school: the worst in the city. Naturally, I challenged this publicly, then engaged him in converstation afterwards. I opined that twelve successful inspections in fourteen years was hardly a failing school. He admitted that he didn't know much about education, and left that to the party spokesperson.

Well, there's my faith teetering again. This political group, en masse, as a party is taking a line about something so crucial as the stability in the lives of all these inner-city and immigrant children, and leaving it to one person. And this person, who was a teacher in a previous life, and a teacher at our school [!], should know better, and actually I think he does, but his new philosophy of education seems entirely governed by how much money central government will give Leeds to give to builders to build rubbish new buildings.

Well, obviously he doesn't deliberately set out to set up rubbish buildings, but he needs to know that they are. Rubbish. Leeds is careering down a path described last year by the National Association of Architects as "an opportunity lost". They even move children and staff into these schools before they are finished. Car park for Swallow Hill [that's West Leeds and Wortley to several hundred unhappy children, especially those two year groups who they didn't build enough rooms for]! Carpark! Who needs a carpark? Well, Science teachers bringing in equipment, music teachers bringing the steel pans after gigs, English teachers with bags full of marking, well everybody.

I digress.

And this spokesperson is guided by a already discredited private so-called education company and this is the line. If we do what Ed Balls says ie make academies and trusts, and judge schools by crude measurements, he will give Leeds 11 million pounds; if we don't behave ourselves we'll only get 9 million. I say let's behave badly, if only for the stability of our communities and their mental health.

Chris Crozier, Jos Lockridge, Michael Lorimer, and my own drummer, David Wright were all ex-Foxwood students, and why are they mentioned here? Well the clue's in the title. Take the heart out of the community in the ruthless pursuit of such a nebulous concept as a standard. What's the point? I thought that education was bigger than that.

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