Friday, 30 March 2012

Academies on the radio Any Questions

Any Questions last week was in Prince Henry's School, Otley, which throughout the evening, was pointedly refered to a a comprehensive. With no reference to the recent turmoil there. What's that about, then?
I find the panelists on these programmes curiously lacking in understanding of the nature of Education.

I wrote this email to the Any Answers:
Only the lady from York University [Patsy Asha?] had a clue: that children go to school to learn how other people live. Yes, the weirdly named “free” schools and grammar schools can only “aggravate class distinction”.
Doug Richards was astonished that it wasn’t okay to randomly select a few “promising” children at an early age, hot house them academically, and the rest can wallow around in whatever evidently sub-standard education is available!
Angela Eagle, as they all do, confused “under-performing” schools with schools in disadvantaged areas.
George Young was wildly inaccurate [I’m being polite here] by stating that tests have proved that academies had improved results.
Oh no they haven’t, George! Exhaustive research, including famously by Price Waterhouse and Cooper has clearly demonstrated that academies perform no better than schools. And that’s often after they have excluded the “riff-raff.”

Very curious that the Any Questions team sat in the very school that was the cause of four months worth of industrial and community action last year as teachers took strike action against the school becoming an academy; parents and students stood in Otley Town centre collecting signatures for the petition, and even the national newspapers took very public note. Yet, in the programme, the school was pointedly refered to a comprehensive. The headteacher and the governors who didn't resign must be sighing with relief!

If that is the point of education to get good results, to “drive up” standards, by which they mean only exam results, then yes, academies should be able to do that more easily. They are allowed to select 20% of their intake, whereas the old bog-standards [comprehensive schools] have to include everyone, and that also means those that the academies have excluded.

I always thought education was about children, and about individual children. About their needs. Their problems. Their aspirations. As individuals. Not as collectives making up statistics.
The most vulnerable children need the best teachers; they need those who specialise in teaching vulnerable children. And these teachers gravitate to these areas, where they know they can make a difference. And we [I include myself here] work magic; that this goes publicly unrecognised is unimportant because of the confidentiality of all our situations.

You hear ignorant actresses on Breakfast TV saying that schools let kids down. Oh no they don’t. Society does; the Government does. There are children, now adults alive today with their mental health more or less intact who owe this to the incorrectly reviled inner-city schools and their dedicated teachers. We should be celebrated.

Where's the league tables of those who didn't kill themselves; or those who "came out" and were eventually reunited with their parents; or those who were the victims of incest who survived to create happy families of their own. How do you credit keeping in contact with ex-pupils as they progress through life?

Can't measure it- doesn't count. Who cares?

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