Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Inspectors take opposing view, Schools take the Blame for Poverty

In 1994 when I was Head Of Music at Foxwood School, the inspector (who stayed all week with me) and who was a music specialist, watched me teach the music listening course that myself and colleague, Mr Phillips had devised between us, and told me that we should publish it. The school passed its inspection but was closed 2 years later.

Foxwood tutor group early eighties

In in 2003, a couple of weeks into being Acting Head of Music at City of Leeds School, the Ofsted inspector told me that you should "never, my dear, talk over music". Well, in the initial stages of the course, sometimes you have to, and the fact that three students merited their own separate TA should have indicated something to this woman about how well we were controlling behaviour! And I published my book on teaching music* a couple of years later.

Ten years later - after two proposed mergers, one with Carr Manor, and one with St Michael's, after a proposal to make it a 14-19 vocational centre, after two attempts to academise, after federating it with Primrose,  then defederating it, but leaving the sixth form with Primrose, after proposing an outright closure and sending students all round the city, after chucking out the acting head, and then half the governing body (including myself) and imposing an IEB, the school finally succumbed to academisation this year.
City of Leeds previous logo

However, during this time, no inspections were actually failed! My own two younger children got 8 or 9 A-Cs each as a hard core of amazing staff kept the place ticking over. And they will keep on doing it, while academy bosses stuff the kids into purple-edged blazers paid for by the public money that once paid for Special Needs and Music services etc, etc, etc .

I make two points here:
1. faced with an identical listening course, two inspectors took a completely opposite view, and
2. the very existence of published inspections means that children from deprived areas will always have their schools scrutinised and attacked for all the wrong reasons . Until we attack poverty, and not the schools that try their best to support poor children, they will continue to suffer, as will, quite unbelievably, the staff who choose to work, and used to find their job satisfaction and their calling working in areas of deprivation.

* Including SEN in the Curriculum: Music, published David Fulton's, shortlisted for TES award

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