Thursday, 1 April 2010

School closures can boost statistics but are not likely to do so

The headline from the YEP [Yorkshire Evening Post] on Wednesday March 31, astonishingly read,

"Closures can boost schools"

and in the article, a spokesperson for Education Leeds told a press briefing,

" If everybody embraced their local school we wouldn't be sitting here." Rocket Science, Mr Spokesperson? I think not. How much does this private company get paid to come up with that observation?

This reminds me of the final assembley [circa 2000] that a certain headteacher gave the pupils at the ill-fated Copperfields College. He actually stood up and told the students that it was their and their parents' fault that the school was closing. This pretentiously-named school came about from the annihilation of Foxwood and Cross Green, two innocent bog-standard comprehensives serving their communities whose falling roles came about as a combination of end of baby-bulge and the introduction of the invidious league tables.

So, nine years after the start of reign of educational terror that is Education Leeds, all the spokesperson can say is, "It's not our fault".

I suppose the problem started all those years ago in the seventies-eighties when parents were given choice of school and thus started what I like to call the "grass is greener syndrome". Taking one look at the students tumbling out of the local school, parents assumed somehow that misbehaviour in the neighbourhood meant either that it was the school's fault, or that they misbehaved in the school. And in fact today's government seems to be suffering from the same lack of understanding, and schools and their teachers in the poorer neighbourhoods are being blamed for the poverty.

Thus it started: parental choice, and thousands of children left the safety and security of their local communities to be transported here, there and everywhere in a mad search to avoid their own selves and find that greener grass. "You can take the girl out of Gipton, or Hyde Park, or Beeston or wherever but you you can't take wherever out of the girl". Why should you even want to!

And, if the threatend closure of City of Leeds comes about, and the children have to leave the security of the staff and friends who have grown to love and look out for them, and theyare are bolted onto Carr Manor, Lawnswood, South Leeds and the rest, this closure will neither boost schools, nor statistics.

And then how stupid will Leeds look?

And, if they get their way with Parklands, destroy all the bonds that bind our last remaining single sex school together, and make it co-ed, will all those vast numbers of local families meekly pull their children out of their present schools?

I was present when Education Leeds told Farnley Park that the fall-out from the Wortley/West Leeds merger would end up at their place. Education Leeds ended up having to refurbish Wortley School after all.

Below is the link to BBC World Service programme during which I spoke on Friday - and at rather more length than I was expecting, and the Sparrows [Leeds steelband] played, broadcast 2 April bewteen 6am and 8.30 am. Of that, more anon.

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