Sunday, 13 June 2010

Primrose High School

Well, more extreme gigging. it's back to the Bradford Mela in a minute. So here's another letter that I wrote earlier. It's my second formal letter of objection to the proposed closure of Primrose School.

[The way the "consultation" system works is to make all concerned make formal objections twice; this, I would imagine, intending to demoralise protesters into giving up at the second hurdle. Also they have advertised new headships of academies not yet debated and agreed on. Not only is this presumptious asnd demoralising; it is a waste of public money - these national paper advertisements don't come cheap.]

[PS See you at the Mela - best family day out I've been to in a very long time.]

letter of objection to the closure of Primrose School

My main objection to the threatened closure of Primrose School is that the difficult situation that Primrose finds itself in is entirely down to the actions of Education Leeds, which has bedevilled this poor staff and these poor children with one change after another over the past eight years, and no change for the better,

Go back over twenty years to a time before apartheid ended in South Africa, and visiting black South African teachers would spend a week or more at Primrose Hill High School to see an example of a successful inner-city school.

Go back to 1992, for the reorganisation of Leeds Schools. As the birthrate declined, Leeds finally decided to abandon middle schools and go back to primary and secondary. League tables saw off Foxwood/East Leeds and Cross Green, and in 1996 they merged on the latter’s site to become the ill-fated, short-lasting and pretentiously named Copperfields College.

Now we have a couple of hundred poor and mostly white children in need of a school. Let’s send fifty of them in one go to destroy the harmony that was Primrose. In vain the staff protested that to include so many new students at a time would too much to be able to integrate them successfully. Making matters worse, because of’ the school’s good record with educating “difficult” children, Education Leeds then started to send those excluded from other schools to Primrose. One year after these fifty pupils and more were dropped into Primrose, portakabins and all, the Chief Executive of Education Leeds, attended a meeting of Primrose union representatives, addressing them thus:

“While sorting out the problem at Copperfields, I think we have de-stabilised Primrose”.

In the middle of all these difficulties comes the Federation with City of Leeds, and this also coinciding with the a central government dictat that all teaching jobs are re-arranged with the new Teaching and Learning responsibilities.

As if this wasn’t enough comes the new build with PFI, and this is the last straw! The building is part prison, part holiday camp with concrete out door stair-cases, gangways for children to lean over, spit down and chuck things at each other, and a car park a mile hike from the main entrance. There’s no budget for IT; the dining room is too small to fit all the children in at one sitting; there’s no cookery room; the music practice rooms are on the other side of the corridor from the main teaching room, etc, etc, etc. Including all the constraints that having an exterior agency managing the building that the school is trying to educate in.

Today the new headteacher has come up with some fabulous initiatives; the school is recovering from the trauma of moving from one unsuitable building into another. The last thing that this school needs now is the change and further instability that becoming an academy would bring. And the intended sponsor, the Co-op had absolutely no suggestions for how they might “improve” the school. At the consultation meeting their representative said that they would wait until the school had decided to close itself before coming up with any ideas. And what educational expertise does the Co-op have anyway with inner-city high education?

Victoria Jaquiss

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