Press Release regarding NUAST

We published the following Press Release today, 3 August, at 4 pm:

‘Education campaigners are warning of “volatility” at the newly opened Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology (NUAST) with up to a third of students in the Sixth Form having left during the year and staff “comings and goings” including the sudden disappearance of the principal two weeks before the end of term.

“We never thought NUAST was a viable or credible development,” said Secretary of the group ‘Hands Off Our Schools’, Colin Tucker. “We’ve been monitoring it carefully throughout the year. It seems that it has been beset with difficulties. It only recruited 106 students in its first year, in Year 10 and into the Sixth Form and, of course, those students couldn’t use the brand new building on the old Dunkirk fire station site until November. According to figures we have, 36 students began in the Sixth Form and NUAST admitted, in response to a Freedom of Information request from us, that it now has only 23. That means a third of them left during the year. Chair of HOOS, Kat Mycock, commented, “According to the figures NUAST gave us, there are almost double the number of boys attending the academy as girls, which further reinforces the dominance of men in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, something we thought the academy was actively working against.”

NUAST refused to tell HOOS how many staff have left during the year but according to a parent of a Year 10 boy who contacted the HOOS website, “staff turnover has been so high that he has had several different teachers for most of his subjects.”

Mr Tucker added, “There are no teachers of history or a modern foreign language listed on the NUAST website staff list, meaning students cannot qualify for the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), one of the government’s key performance indicators. The only history teacher was the principal, Mr Sohel, but, as reported in the Nottingham Post already, he disappeared about two weeks before the end of term. His replacement, Bob White, doesn’t seem to have had any experience of senior management at a school or college – in fact, it doesn’t appear, from his public profiles, that he has even had any experience of teaching.” NUAST’s first principal, Ailsa Gough, parted company with the academy during its ‘setting up’ year, several months before it opened and Mr Sohel was appointed.

‘Hands Off Our Schools’, which campaigns against enforced academisation and ‘free’ schools in the Nottingham area, says it has a number of other concerns about NUAST including the fact that nearly half of the Board of Directors are closely linked to the Djanogly Learning Trust, which runs the Djanogly City Academy, rated ‘inadequate’ by OFSTED. The Djanogly Learning Trust is currently barred from opening any more academies. There are also no staff representatives on the Board of Directors.

“We would advise any student thinking of joining NUAST in the autumn – and their parents – to think carefully about the upheavals that appear to have gone on there during its first year, and consider whether it really can deliver what they want,” concluded Mr Tucker.’

See recent posts on our website for the full story.

Poor press for NUAST

The outspoken intervention of a local Headteacher and a Press Release from HOOS has pushed the Nottingham Post to give the Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology some negative publicity. We’re optimistic that this project can be further undermined once local people recognise the folly of sending their children there.

Further opportunities for making the case against are coming up: the Open Evening on 4 February and possibly an official ‘opening’ of the building maybe some time in the New Year.

Watch this space!

http://www.nottinghampost.com/Nottingham-University-Academy-Science-Technology/story-25465347-detail/story.html

‘Torch’ gives up on Gamston Free School

As reported in the Nottingham Post, the ‘Torch’ group has given up on its attempt to set up another ‘free school’. Originally, its plans were for ‘Trent Bridge’ which was turned down; their second attempt was for a ‘Gamston Free School’, which was also turned down by the DfE. They have now,  according to the Post,  admitted defeat. Certainly, opposition from existing schools was fierce and they may also feel they are in danger of being overstretched. After all, they agreed for Samworth Academy to join the group just before it was judged ‘inadequate’ in the OFSTED blitz of Nottingham just before Christmas. They are also still supporting Meden School and have just under six months to establish the Nottingham Free School in the former Courtaulds factory on Haydn Road.

http://www.nottinghampost.com/Free-school-plans-scrapped-second-Government/story-20819877-detail/story.html

Gove in ‘toxic’ jibe

Teachers are coming to expect insults from Michael Gove, their Education Secretary. He visited Nottingham last Friday and, in the wake of the OFSTED blitz of Nottingham schools in December, launched a tirade in the local press and media. According to what he was reported as saying in the Nottingham Post, (March 15 & 16), he ‘demanded’ that under-performing schools improve and suggested they be “taken by the scruff of the neck”. He threatened school leaders with the sack and academisation (this message was encoded as ‘a change of leadership in some schools could be needed’, ignoring the fact that, even if the OFSTED judgements are sound, most of the schools judged to require ‘Special Measures’ are currently academies!).

He warned the schools not to use deprivation as an excuse: “Deprivation cannot be used as an excuse for poor performance. There are children who come from a tough background who go on to succeed.” Many people would suggest that this is because of their school and often such children cite an inspirational teacher, who believed in them, but Gove is having none of that.

He went on to accuse teachers of lacking ambition. What he is reported as having said, is : “What is needed is to raise the level of ambition…not this toxic attitude that children in deprived areas will not do well.”

We wonder how Michael Gove knows what is in the hearts and minds of teachers in schools in ‘deprived areas’ when they go to work each day. We also wonder how they will feel, going into school on Monday, knowing their ‘boss’ thinks their attitude is poisoning their children’s life chances.

If you are such a teacher, get in touch with HOOS via our ‘Contribute’ button and tell us, anonymously.