Monday, 7 February 2011

Bear of Little Brain is Elected to Parliament and put in charge of Education

For those of you who didn't see it, here is my letter, published a week ago in the Yorkshire Evening Post [YEP]. It was in response to the publication of Leeds GCSE results:

The article in YEP 13 January 2010 called the GCSE results as a cause for celebration. And the strangest move of goalpost from Mr [How can I put you Down Even More] Gove from 30% to 35% just as City of Leeds gets there. Anyway, we got there. Target 30%; achieved 32% and that was while being bombarded with threats of closure for one whole academic year [Thanks, Education Leeds for nothing!] That’s with a great mix of ethnicities and social groups. That’s with children entering the school UK system randomly from halfway through Year 7 to half way through Yr 11. Yes, Education Leeds, we cater for all.

Meantime, those poor old newly made academies. And how do you spin it? While it’s hard to stand by the damage they do to staff morale and community cohesion, Cllr Judith Blake [Education Spokesperson] has no option but to stand by them because the poor children and families had no option. They have to believe that stuffing Billy or Razia into a blazer has some sort of educational justification. Though it seems more like a working class straight jacket to me.

Academies are “work in progress” No they’re not. Each one is another nail in the coffin of our central services, where schools once co-operated to share resources. What ever happened to Every Child Matters? Intake and South Leeds were pulling themselves together when the disgraceful disruption and distraction that was their change of status, staff, uniform.

Why City of Leeds succeeded and succeeds is largely because of the staff stability and robust, modern and it has to be said, watertight building. The same people in the same new building opened by John Smith in 1994. With these words in a letter to Leeds’ City Links he wrote about the message that the new school building was sending to its pupils:

You are important. Your education is important. And because we respect you and value your education, we want to give you the very best environment in which to learn.

But Judith Blake is right: The targets are a distraction, as are League tables in fact. To compare the grades of a refugee child who arrived from Somalia half way through their year 9 with the results of a child who has lived in Menstone all their life spoken English all their life and who has private music lessons, and maybe even extra tuition for Maths. – Well, only bears of little brains would try that one.

Postscript: Sadly we, the British public, appear to have voted for such a fictional character to be an MP, and even more sadly someone else put him in charge of the UK Education System, from which point he is busy dismantling said System.

After discovering Ed Balls' lamentable lack of understanding of how education works, I thought it couldn't get worse. . . . . Is Michael Gove in competition for the Most Incompetent Education Minister of all Time? Ed was a hard act to follow, but I think that Mikey has the edge at the moment.

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