Friday, 25 April 2014

School Deserves praise for Stand on English

YEP Letters: April 24

I support the City of Leeds School’s brave stand in declaring so publicly that its students need extra lessons in English as an Additional Language.

Head teacher Georgie Sale points out correctly that even four years in the UK is not long enough to have acquired enough academic English to get the exam grades that reflect any child’s natural ability.
However, as a previous long-serving and ultimately ousted governor, I know that this is a long held view; that attention has always been given to EAL, and that, despite our children not getting the grades that would keep Ed Balls and now Michael Gove off our backs, we went on passing inspections, with the EAL d honourable mention in the dispatches.
Two years ago we gained School of Sanctuary status - the first UK high school to do so. What an honour!
And how would anyone like to be remembered as the teacher, the support assistant, the school that supported you in your darkest hours as well as your best, or the robot following orders in the exam factory?
Sadly, I see that the IEB (Interim Executive Board) has applied for academy status. This will not, in any way, improve the overall average grades.
The school will continue to languish quite unfairly in the eyes of the Government, the media and the local public.
sunset over City of Leeds carpark spring 2014
Worse, all the emphasis on EAL will inevitably be directed to improving average grades; and inevitably away from offering the individual children the sanctuary and personal support that any school should be offering as well.
However, until we get a government that has an Education Secretary who genuinely understands David Blunkett’s old slogan that “Every Child Matters”, children will be forced down inappropriate routes that only serve in the pointless competition that is pitting one country’s educational system against another.
And we won’t get this government unless we as citizens stand up for ourselves and we as teachers, stand up for our charges.
Victoria Jaquiss FRSA, (teacher, writer, ex-governor, local resident), by email

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