Friday, 30 July 2010

When it is time to say sorry

I was very pleased to see that the Yorkshire Evening Post printed my letter more or less in its in its entirety. Here is a link:
http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/letters/Time-for-education-chiefs-to.6443215.jp
and here is what I wrote:

At the council’s executive board meeting on Wednesday the representatives from Education Leeds had to explain to the Councillors why the change of heart. Was it the 1000-strong and growing petition?

No mention.

Was it the two Early Day Motions put down in the House of Parliament, by local MPs, Greg Mulholland and Hilary Benn?

No mention?

Was it the frequent radio, television and newspaper appearances by various members of staff, parents and members of the local community?

No, I don’t believe I heard any mention of that.

Was it that every candidate for council at both local elections [February and May] put keeping City of Leeds School open in their manifesto?

I don’t believe that fact featured.

Was it that this so-called unpopular school retained its second and third-choice pupils once they and their parents had experienced the school for themselves?

No, I don’t think that was recognised.

Was it the successfully passed Ofsted [satisfactory bordering on good] on the day after a general election, and during a time when the school was under threat of closure, and negative comments were all over the press?

Do you know, I think they must have forgotten all that stuff.

The spokesperson, instead, talked of a “compelling” plan drawn up by the governors, with input from local primary schools and universities. This plan was drawn up by governors seeking some mechanism whereby their/our school could stay open. Drawn up before the EDMs, the massive petition and the Ofsted. Indeed we need the support of the primary schools, whose had spoken up for us all through this difficult time. And the support of the universities and the colleges.

But I was kind of thinking the time had finally come when someone might say: “Actually we were wrong, completely got it wrong. This is a popular and successful little inner-city school working wonders with the A* future doctors as well as those who[*] other schools disdained to educate. And now we need to make up for all the damage we have caused. We are truly sorry”.

So how about it?

Victoria Jaquiss FRSA [City of Leeds teacher/parent/governor/local resident]
[* I know it should be whom, but maybe a bit old-fashioned?]

and in pursuit of national coverage for the campaign generally to leave inner-city schools alone, I allowed myself to be interviewed and photographed for the TES [arm twisted? Not], published today. And was reminded of one of the earlier crimes against education in Leeds. I had only been Head of Expressive Arts for four years when they killed off Foxwood School; when the children of Seacroft and Gipton lost their home from home; when all the teachers who had gathered together and who had become expert at inner-city education now suddenly found themselves scattered across the city, across Leeds and beyond.

In February, the spokesperson from Education Leeds stood before us at Parklands School at the so-called consultation meeting, and told us there wasn't enough co-ed provision in East Leeds. About the same time as the bulldozers were finishing off what remained of Foxwood.

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