Thursday, 17 June 2010

Jumping the gun:East Leeds Academy: I don't think so.

Well, said Education Leeds, we got away with it before; we can do it again. Yes, it's called Let's advertise the headship of a new school/academy before our democratically elected councillors have voted on it. Disgraceful!

So, if you search for East Leeds Academy on the internet, you will find that there is an advertisement for a new principal/headteacher for East Leeds Academy, salary up to £100,000 plus benefits package [whatever those perks are.]

This academy presumes the closure of eminently successful Parklands Girls High School. So any prospective headteacher or principal needs to be clear in their mind. This is an unpopular, unjustified, unecessary, amoral, undemocratic, uneducational act.

One person, the new head, will go home with an excellent wage. Experienced teachers will leave the profession on principle; other teachers will stay on because they have mortgages; many teachers will stay on because of their commitment to the children they have taught for the last few years; But they are being used. Shamelessly.

Everybody knows, even Education Leeds knows this: that continuity is vital to the success and well-being of children's lives. Their school is their second family; and sometimes it is their first. Teachers are very torn when they make that decision whether to stay or go in these cases.

When they tore up Foxwood and Cross Green, I thought long and hard about my career move. I loved Seacroft and the kids of Seacroft and Gipton, but I didn't want to go to Copperfields [Cross Green with a few Foxwood kids in it], and I had seen openings for steel pans and Special Needs Music teaching in the Leeds Music Service. I was so tempted.

But the kids I taught didn't have that option, so when they asked, I said yes, I would come down with them. Fortunately, by the time it came to the head of my faculty's round of interviews they'd spent all their management money on other posts. They told Richard Harrison [Cross Green Music teacher]and myself that we weren't good enough, but actually they never even asked for our references and they cancelled the position of that Head of Expressive Arts that very evening.

Having seen first hand that amount of incompetence and duplicitousness, I no longer wanted to be associated with disaster that would be Copperfields College [college, academy, here we are with the pretentious names, already], so I took them to a tribunal with a very heavy heart. I needn't have worried. By 2 to 1 the governors voted not to re-interview us.

Four months later I took up my new job as steel pan development officer and teacher of Music to Children with Behaviour Problems for the Leeds Music Service. And, for the first year, I followed my GCSE Year 10 Music class down to Copperfields, and I also taught there as their steel pan peripatetic teacher.

Five years later, Copperfields ground to a halt. All in a day's work for Education Leeds. The rest should have been just history, and lessons learnt. Sadly they can't resist the lure of big business, and more cranes on the horizon [explanation for future blog]. Only Leeds City Councillors can now save this next disaster from happening.

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