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.
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.