Monday, 27 January 2014

Save and Protect City of Leeds School

Five threats later, it looks like City of Leeds is about to fall on its own sword. The main argument that it puts forward in favour of academisation is that the school has no money.

The flier puts out some half-hearted arguments about standards, EAL, and multi-culturalism, a fresh start, and the alleged expertise of the proposed sponsor.

But actually all, and I mean all that is wrong with City of Leeds School is that numbers are low. Made low by several factors:

1. League tables prove only that children in deprived areas, which include newly arrived arrived immigrants and those in extreme poverty, tend not to achieve their academic potential at the normal age. They are not a genuine measure of the teachers' skills.

2. After the school finally defederated from Primrose, the school found that the 6th form, and all the money that sixth-formers bring in, and all numbers and potential numbers for retakes and pastoral learners, as well as A levels had been given to Primrose. How did that happen?

3. Five proper full consultations to close or merge or academise City of Leeds has made local aspirational parents understandably nervous about the quality of the education here. Then, that outburst on Radio Leeds, from Chris Edwards, leader of the infamous Education Leeds. Who would send their children to City of Leeds? Well, Chris, I did. And 9 A to Cs, and 3 A levels later . .

This school, condemned by rumour, actually has never been placed in Special Measures, nor had any formal criticism until last year. This building was enlarged to high standards with public money, with none of the fancy watch tower designs and grandiose facades that PFI has given the more recent new builds.

The school enjoys great community relations (the prime reason I sent my two white children there), is renowned by reputation for its EAL teaching, and was awarded the UK first School of Sanctuary.

The high quality teaching staff are drawn to this school for all the right reasons, and include Advanced Skills Teachers, and published authors.

The academy proposal suggests that the school would benefit from a fresh start. I lived through Foxwood's fresh start as East Leeds, and Cross Green's as Copperfields. Both schools lasted 4 and 5 years respectively. Changing a school's name does not change the local perception of the institution, and alienates those loyal to it, while also cancelling history. and children don't learn any better, stuffed into blazers and throttled by ties.

Really there is nothing that an academy can do that a school can't: change the school day timings, uniform etc. But there is one big thing: they can lower the teachers' pay. And that is exactly what Leeds City College is presently consulting on for it's own.

Meantime, City of Leeds has a new headteacher,  and is now host to the Lighthouse School, and to the Leeds ArtForms Music Service, both of whom pay rent and who enjoy the friendly atmosphere and the good behaviour of the students. It has also re-acquired the CLC, and with an almost rural city centre location, is ideally placed for conferences etc.

This school is already back on the up, and does not require to be bribed into giving all its land and its building and control of all its staff to an FE college, whose head is coincidentally on the Interim Governing Body [an undemocratically group of people, who represent neither school staff nor the local community].

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