Saturday, 30 June 2012

Hillcrest at Risk from its own

This is Yorkshire Evening Post on Thursday, in response to shocking statement by their Chair of Governors [who is a Leeds councillor!] that becoming an academy will sort out the school's problems. He should know it will increase them.

22 June 2012
Cllr Gruen is kidding himself  [YEP 21 June 2012] if he thinks, for one minute, that giving away council-owned buildings and council-owned land is going to transform poor old Hillcrest School into a “beacon of excellence”. And, he is kidding his fellow-governors if he has talked them into this act of treachery. “Unanimous? I would like to see the written minutes of that governing body debate!
Do the local community or the parents have a view or a say? After all, in any school, the children, the staff, and the governors are just passing through. For a while, a few years, they hold the school in trust for the next generation.  If a school belong to anyone, it belongs to the community.
It looks so innocent, so matter-of-fact: that academies “receive their funding directly from the Education Funding Agency . . .”, but this disguises that this is just another nail in the coffin of our local educational services, of which one very successful one is described on the very same page.
Under the title, “Record pupil numbers at school”, the second article describes how “schools, Leeds City Council and voluntary services work together to tackle poor attendance” with interventions which “address problems such as mental health, domestic violence, unemployment, crime and anti-social behaviour.”
Let us be clear, any school taking the extra 10% of the government money [paid for by our taxes] which now goes to fund our wonderful central educational services [psychology, music and arts, attendance, etc] 1. by law, loses the right to access them either freely or at the local school discounted rate, and in time, 2, kills them off altogether.
Academies which “succeed”  [pass exams] in the inner-city, such as the David Young Academy, only do so because they select their intake, and this one, in fact, excludes more children than all other Leeds schools put together. South Leeds on the other hand gained a satisfactory result [ie a pass] after its merger between Merlyn Rees and Matthew Murray High Schools, but was obliged to become as academy three years ago, and is now given notice to improve.
It’s bad enough that the long shadow of Michael Gove is falling on so many of our schools and telling them they must become academies, simply because he wills it, but unbelievable that a school would willingly even contemplate it.
Victoria Jaquiss FRSA [Leeds teacher]

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