Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Uselessness of Academies and League Tables, and the Usefulness of Archives

When I was teaching at Foxwood School, Seacroft, Big Pat and I used to discuss the things I wouldn't chuck out. Big Pat was the cleaner for the Music Department and environs; the Music Department was located in between the two dining halls, so we could belt it out whenever, ah but they don't design schools like that now.

Anyway, Big Pat eventually took me in hand and made me organise myself and my desk. But before that happened, every day when school finished, she would collect everything that she considered junk and put into a black sack and the following morning I would take it all back out again. She told me I was was a hoarder. And I was. But she kept on tidying my desk; which wasn't really her job; and one day I had a eureeka moment. I loved my new tidy desk. My desk was excellent tidy. I put things into the black bag myself. Not everything obviously. I was still hoarding, but now it was in order and I called it archiving.

This is bad news for anyone wanting to rewrite history. Example:

Going back to academies: In my archives I find this article from the Yorkshire Evening Post from 19 July 2008. It declares,

In a national ground-breaking move, South Leeds High would be closed and an academy, sponsored by the Schools Partnership Trust - which includes Garforth Community College - would open in September 2009.

"We are very excited about the plans. Academy status would allow us to address the budget deficit .." Academies are increasingly being seen by the Government as a way of raising standards . . . Typically they must attract 2 million pounds in sponsorship and are housed in new buildings. South Leeds however only moved into its new, 25 million state-of-the-art facilities in 2006. . . . South Leeds also has a 1.3 million pounds debt, which under the academy plans would be written off from Education Leeds budget.

If you go back a couple of these blogs you will find the headteacher of South Leeds Academy defending the lack of massive improvements in his school's results, explaining it's a deprived area. Der!

Fast forward to now. In a strange new world where bears of little brain get given jobs normally accorded to people with some sort of education eg a degree, Mr Gove is Head of Education in a shaky little UK coalition government. Now I have heard that M Gove spent some time at Oxford University, but, instead of making me think a lot of more of the Gove, this makes me question what he was doing at Oxford, and whether whatever anybody does there fits them for a job in the public education system.

What I read into this article [YEP 19/7/08] is that money is the determining factor in the creation of academies. What I know from happened next is that academies 1. don't raise standards and 2. don't benefit children. They make some rich people richer, and they damage the lives, the mental health and the careers of loads of poor children.

So unless the plan is to return to some sort of feudal pre-2oth century world, where some people are more equal than others [I love that phrase, thanks, George], I just can't see the point of academies [and I did go to two universities, and one college that later became a university. Only, having said that, it didn't do anything for Gove!]]. The wiped budget briefly benefits the school and is at the expense of local rate/tax payers.

And those of us who are teachers, governors, education workers and councillors who are pressurised into entering into this pact with the Devil should learn how to stand up for the little people of the inner-cities; to stand up for the children of the long-term unemployed; to the children who entered this country clinging to the bottoms of lorries.

School should be there to benefit each individual child, not to cram them with useless little six- week GCSEs and BTEC: four for the price of two exams; not so that UK can rub educational shoulders with Finland or Sweden or wherever.

I read in the paper sometime this year that Leeds wants to be the best northern city in the UK - something like that. Who cares what your city is if you yourself are not happy!

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