Friday, 18 November 2011

Re Prince Henry’s rebel governors

I'd like to thank the Yorkshire Evening Post for printing my letter [below] a couple of weeks ago, 31 October 2011]. For those of you who don't live in Yorkshire, here it is [plus the final unpublished paragraph]:

Dear Editor
Hats off to Cllr Judith Blake for resigning from Prince Henry’s governing body in the face of the all too familiar lack of democracy, when it comes to academy conversions. But does it have to get personal before our councillors and education chiefs understand what other governors, parents, students and teachers have had to suffer in this city and throughout the UK?

An academy is not a new type of anything. It is a school with a different name, which has stolen money from the local authority services. Obviously as long as none of your students have any mental health problems, any Special or Additional Needs or added musical desires, you won’t need to worry about helping to bring about the destruction of the hospital school, the Special Needs provision and the Music Service. And the rest.

Usually it is poor inner-city schools who are bribed into academy status; so it is hard to see why Prince Henry’s is stumbling down this undemocratic and anti-social avenue. Especially since it would appear that only ten people in Otley even want this! Parents against; community against; staff against. Governors ten: nine in favour. Indeed not only not a clear majority; it’s not any sort of majority; and, if decisions like this are left to the mostly unelected governing bodies; it is a massive indictment of the UK system of school governance. “Critical friends” turned policy-makers! When was that the plan?

I see that the school sent a letter to parents saying that school name and uniform would not be changing. Well, I heard that publicly stated about Intake’s School’s name shortly before it got its hands on West Leeds High School’s name and rearranged those words. Parents might be also worried about continuity of teaching staff, term times, admissions, subjects taught, timing of the school day – you know all those things you get when you gain “freedom” from council support.

And lastly more amused than astonished that the headteacher “said that legal advice had been taken to ensure the “democratic process” had been followed.” I don’t think you would need legal advice when counting might have sufficed.

Victoria Jaquiss FRSA, Leeds teacher and school-governor

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