Sunday, 3 February 2013

United Kingdom Education still suffering at the hands of an incompetent and dangerous Madman.

In response to the old failing schools headlines that appeared recently in the press, I wrote this to local paper last week [not printed, or not as yet]:

Dear Ed
Again, children in areas of deprivation are being put at great risk by 1. Michael Gove and his Henchpeople, and 2. Any newspaper who repeats his views. A front page declaring, “Schools are Failing Children” just makes things worse. In previous debates on academies and schooling , the YEP acknowledges that academies are not the answer; I think they realise that traumatised children tend not to get A*s. Certainly I write often enough and tell you so!

City of Leeds School contains some of the highest quality teachers that you would meet anywhere. Three of them are ASTs [Advanced Skills Teachers]. This means they go round Leeds advising other teachers on teaching these subjects. That some children at the school don’t achieve the arbitrarily set number of A to C grades is because this is not an appropriate target for all of them at this point in their lives, not because City is a failing school. 

That the government announces, and that the Media repeat something negative inevitably means that aspirational parents move their kids, or don’t send them to whichever is the targeted school. And this also contributes to an imbalance of grade-getters. Education Leeds spent years finding nasty things to say about this school. It’s time the papers refused to print the spin.

The end result of all this bad press means that City will either fall into the clutches of the academy movement, or that it may be closed altogether, and this excellent almost city centre building will be lost to the families of Little London, Hyde Park and Woodhouse who depend upon its proximity.

The argument that academisation is good for education is long since lost. And it was most telling that the article which also had a go at Primrose School bizarrely failed to acknowledge that for over a year it itself has been an academy and is now called the Co-op [Academy].

If you want City of Leeds and Primrose to do right by their students, keep the details out of the public debate. If you only want a school to do well by league tables, do as David Young Academy did, change the students. [More excluded children than all other Leeds schools put together].

I call on the Media now to take on the role that Michael Gove should have assumed: that of caring for our children and understanding how education works. Don’t rise to the eye-catching headline. If you must, your front page should:

United Kingdom Education still suffering at the hands of an incompetent and dangerous Madman.

Victoria Jaquiss FRSA, Hyde Park, Leeds

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