Friday, 5 November 2010

City of Leeds in Hyde Park Heat

For those of who who don't get the local Hyde Park Heat, here's my little article on our great victory, and here's a picture of parent and local council candidate, Adele Beeson, celebrating at the Count at Leeds Town Hall:

City of Leeds Stood Up for Itself and Won!

All of Hyde Park came out, pulled out all the stops;. We put our hearts and souls into this fight; our weekends; our evenings; our lunchtimes, our holidays; held up home-made placards outside the Civic Hall; wrote letters to the papers; became bloggers; council candidates, political activists, DVD producers, radio performers.

And we thank the primary schools, the community organisations, the unions and private individuals for their part in the fight.

We were fighting for our own children’s education; we were fighting for the education and well-being of the children some still now standing on the tarmac of the airports at Accra, at Warsaw, Harare; at all the capitals of the world where people look to the UK to what it can offer; for security; for education.

And we were fighting our own. How shameful. Fighting grown men and women already university graduates; not grown up in poverty, or who had and who had forgotten; earning many times the wage of the average teacher, even more the average wage of the cleaners who make City of Leeds School of the cleanest, tidiest schools that it is anyone’s pleasure to walk into.

They should have known better; should have cared more. Trotting out their trite little aphorisms [eg “Doing nothing is not an option”], not spotting the obvious: that City of Leeds, and also Primrose and Parklands were massive; that they were caring, nurturing, educating. When you teach in the inner-city; when you have so many first languages spoken in the school that you would need four whole classfuls of translators if any mother tongue teaching was going to happen. When you have so many bright sparks included in there whose talents need nurturing and developing, and you have to make sure that can “aim higher” for them while doing a different best for others.

So there we are with this amazing little high school, fighting closure in our own time, in what was once our leisure, while the grey suits, being paid whatever, are working out some very public ways to “diss” you. The Chief Executive of Education Leeds went on Radio Leeds, and asked “Who would send their children to this school?” The so-called consultation document stated that they “weren’t confident that City of Leeds would pass the new Ofsted inspection framework”

Well, dear Education Leeds, let me tell you. I sent my two youngest to City of Leeds where they were cared for rather better than my two eldest had been elsewhere. They came out of this school with 8 and 9 GCSE A-Cs respectively [shame about the D in Maths, Georgia!]. But more, much, much more. They came out with an understanding about their position in the scheme of things. Their friends came from Little London, Brazil, Chapeltown, Senegal, Beeston, Poland, Holbeck, Bangladesh, Burley, Pakistan, Moortown, Iraq well . . I think you get the point. What price could you put on that living Geography?

And as for that Ofsted. Reader, we passed it. It should be the end of it. It should be the end of an uncaring incompetent private education company whose real interest was never in children, and whose grey suits should never have been allowed to darken this city’s world. And dear reader, their time is up. Education Leeds is coming to an end but not before it has destroyed education all over this city. City of Leeds School stood up for itself and won, but it’s not a fight that we should have had to make.

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