Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Gove has gone! What now?



Gove has gone! What now?


Michael Gove has been removed from his post of Secretary of State for Education in the cabinet reshuffle.  He will become the Chief Whip and not therefore a full member of the cabinet although he will attend as a member of the Prime Minister’s team. Commentators say this is a humiliation for Gove and that he will rise no further in the Government.   Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of OFSTED, appearing on LBC radio was said to be almost speechless when told of Gove’s departure. Free school founder Katharine Birbalsingh lamented on Twitter saying that Gove was the goose that had laid the golden eggs.
Gove is to be replaced by Nicky Morgan who voted against same sex marriage. Some commentators are saying that she is a “clean skin” after the disaster of Gove at Education. Her right wing reputation will not reassure many however, dubbed the “minister for straight women” she is on record as voting against gay marriage and to restrict the right to abortion. Educated at a private school she is a member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and is an Oxford graduate.

Democracy
Ahead of the 2015 election, the Compass enquiry has been investigating How do we build a more equal and democratic model of education? and they want to hear views from as many people as possible.  You can contribute to the think tank’s survey.
If you have views about the experience of Black students and teachers at academies then Lee Jasper would be interested to hear from you.  Contact him via http://leejasper.blogspot.co.uk/ or tweet @LeeJasper

Free Schools
Gove may be gone but his flagship free schools will continue to cause headaches at the DfE.  This week Hackney University Technical College announced it was to close less than two years after it opened.  It failed to attract enough 14-18 students to make it viable so parents and students are left without places and taxpayers are left picking up the bill.

Academies
Parents in Berwick, Northumberland were concerned about the seemingly high number of teacher resignations this term and they set up a facebook page.   Rather than engaging with them theHeadteacher has warned parents that online postings are potentially open to legal action.
Parents in South London are being asked not to speculate or talk to the press about the theft of £2m from the Haberdashers’ Aske’s academy trust http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-28267071 .  Apparently the fraud began in 2011 when Liz Sidwell was headteacher.  What has she been doing since then? Well she’s just stepped down as Schools Commissioner – tasked by the DfE with increasing the number of academies.  When public money intended for their children’s education is stolen from under the noses of academy directors why should parents stay silent?


More forced academies?
Warren School in Barking and Dagenham will be forced to become an academy despite opposition from the majority of parents and the local authority.  The high court ruled that it was lawful to force academisation even though the DfE was unable to contest the fact that academies do no better than community schools once equivalents are stripped out.   Warren is already in a successful partnership – described positively in the most recent HMI report - with a nearby secondary school but the DfE insists that it must now be sponsored by expanding chain, Loxford Academy Trust. 

Also in Barking & Dagenham, academy sponsors REAch2 have moved into Dorothy Barley Juniors where the community fought a united campaign against forced academisation.  Now we hear that all of the teaching staff at the school will have left by September.  Local teachers say “this is a terrible consequence for the children and parents at the school who rejected the forced academy.  We are absolutely outraged at the devastating and harmful effect that academisation has had on our community. We remain determined to improve the education, health and well-being of the children in Barking and Dagenham.  And it is our belief that a locally elected and accountable authority is the best way to achieve these aims.”
The DfE PR machine went into overdrive when Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane (formerly Downhills school) got its ‘good’ Ofsted grading, but they’ve been awfully quiet about nearby Trinity Academy - another of the four forced academies in the borough of Haringey - judged to be ‘requiring improvement’. 

Meanwhile ‘school’ seems to have become a dirty word at Harris Philip Lane, where children are invited to attend after-academy club and at Cavell in Norwich, re-branded as an academy earlier this month, children sit down to academy dinners! 
Parents at Manningham’s Springwood School vowed to fight forced academisation of their primary saying the school is already on the road to improvement.  Ofsted inspectors visiting in April said: "The [new] headteacher has made a very prompt start on addressing the school’s key priorities. She is tackling weaknesses robustly.”  But the DfE has it lined up for the Dixons Academy trust founded by Tory donor Lord Kalms.http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/11338134.display/

Campaigners at a successful secondary school in East Sussex have been struggling for months to have their democratic voices heard.  When the headteacher and governing body at Hove Park School proposed academy conversion there were three vacancies for parent governors.  Campaigners insisted on elections and now all three places have gone to anti academy candidates.  That election result came on the same day the NUT took strike action as part of their opposition to the proposed conversion. The school had not been planning to ballot parents so Brighton & Hove Council stepped up.  Results showed 70% clearly against conversion. Parents and teachers are even more determined to make governors listen to their democratic voice.  

Birmingham
We wish you a pleasant summer and hope to see you in Birmingham on Saturday 13 September for our next open meeting. We leave you with this heartwarming http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-28319907 letter from Barrowford community school in Lancashire, where they recognise that their children are so much more than their test scores. 

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