Have we received advice for you: DfE ‘learns lessons’ from Mark Steel campaign

Beware Mark Steel, warn officials

Government departments are not often portrayed as underdogs. But this would seem to be the implication of a Department for Schooling e-mail, leaked to us, in which officials appear to bemoan the problems they face when lined up towards organised and media-friendly opponents of their academies policy.

The e-mail, sent on 17 October to several civil servants, like people in the DfE’s “academies group”, advertised an event last month in which “lessons would be learned” from the knowledge of Hove Park college in Brighton, which successfully fought off conversion to academy status. The school’s governors backed out of conversion strategies in September following a substantial-profile local campaign, supported by the comedian Mark Steel and including a one particular-day strike.

The e mail said the session would highlight how “Hove Park school … was up against opposition from comedians who have been on Have I acquired News for You [Steel], an anti-group who recorded an anti-academy song, leafleted, held rallies, strikes, and so forth, and so forth.”

It continued: “Part of this session will be to think about lessons discovered, the wider implications for schools in the region thinking about academy conversion and to appear to colleagues for suggestions on how we can help schools in equivalent circumstances.”

Regardless of whether the “help” a school would want would be DfE support in help of its agenda of academisation, towards community opposition, is debatable.

Prime-performing college under scrutiny

An inner-London college that won national acclaim for its 2013 Sats benefits is below investigation by the government’s testing watchdog in excess of its administration of the 2014 exams. Grinling Gibbons principal in Lewisham, south London, is one of 34 colleges that did not have outcomes published in final week’s national crucial stage 2 league tables pending investigations into Sats malpractice by the Standards and Testing Company.

A more 24 schools had outcomes annulled following STA investigations.

Grinling Gibbons was named by the Sunday Occasions final month as the best-carrying out state main in England for the previous 22 years based mostly on its 2013 results. But now a DfE spokesman confirms: “We are at present investigating the administration of the key stage two results at Grinling Gibbons in Lewisham.”

A Lewisham council spokesperson says: “Some papers have been held back for further checking and the school is working closely with the STA on clarification. Until this has concluded, comprehensive final results will not be produced accessible.”

Academy sponsors in brief provide?

League tables day final week triggered the now-classic warning that hundreds of schools at the bottom of the rankings face currently being turned into academies. But how many really are? Final yr, we pointed out that only 1 in 5 schools at the bottom of the 2012 tables had turn out to be an academy in the following twelve months. The place has not altered considerably since then, we can now disclose. Of the bottom 500 primary performers in 2012, only 165, or 33%, have turn into academies. Among the bottom 500, twelve months in the past, 173 – or 35% – are now academies.

So not several “hundreds”, then. Again, we wonder if there is a shortage of sponsors inclined to get above the most tough colleges.

What is the explanation for our warning notice?

Odd goings-on elsewhere in Lewisham, the place we find out that the nearby authority slapped a warning observe on its largest secondary school the day following governors voted against the authority’s program for it go into partnership with an academy.

On 23 October, governors at Sedgehill college opted to continue its partnership with Hayes college in Bromley, rather than crew up with Bethnal Green academy in east London. We recognize the neighborhood authority recommended them that if they voted towards Bethnal Green, the school would be warned about its functionality.

This warning notice, which can set off dramatic action by both the nearby authority and the DfE, such as replacing the governors, was issued on 24 October. On 2 December, the local authority informed the chair of governors that it planned to sack the governing entire body, replace it with a hand-picked interim executive board and set up the head of Bethnal Green as the school’s executive head.

Now, 1,500 folks have signed a petition against the move, which campaigners say paves the way to academy standing.

The school’s headline GCSE results dropped 9 percentage factors this yr but it also celebrated record A-level final results and has witnessed a 62% development in incoming pupil numbers since 2012.

Sedgehill appealed to Ofsted about the warning discover, but the inspectorate ruled towards it, citing the school’s “continuing lower achievement”. Lewisham council mentioned it wished the best for the college and that academy status would not come “without total consultation with mother and father and the community”.

Objectivity questioned

Inkersall main, near Chesterfield, is one more school dealing with controversial conversion to academy status. The interim executive board (IEB), imposed on the college by the DfE, is “consulting” on a proposal from the academies minister, Lord Nash, that it turn out to be a sponsored academy, soon after Ofsted failed the school in February.

Nonetheless, 1 member of the interim board is the chief executive of the Spencer Academies Trust, the chain that is favoured by Nash to get over Inkersall.

One more, the board’s chair, David Wootton, is a former chairman of the Independent Academies Association, a director of 3 academy chains and has chaired at least three other IEBs in the previous 15 months, two of which led to colleges turning out to be academies, with the third due to do so in March.

Wootton stresses he is doing the very best for pupils at Inkersall, unpaid that he has worked with all kinds of schools more than a 35-yr public services profession and that the IEB will not influence the consultation.

Leave a Reply