‘Hands Off Our Schools’ received the following from a parent who attended, with her husband, the Open Evening for prospective Year 12 students on 7 November. She wishes to be known as ‘Parent of a Year 11 student’. We reprint her comments without amendment:
“My husband and I attended an ‘open event’ at NUAST on the 7th November with our son, who is considering his options for year 12. We were struck by a number of things:
1. Signing in for the event was so badly organised that it had to be abandoned so that the event could start on time.
2. Nothing appeared to have been done to prepare the school for the event; there were no displays either to inspire prospective students or to ‘show case’ the work of current students. There was one go-kart in the school entrance, which then figured as the sole project in the Principal’s presentation.
3. The toilets for both girls and boys are open plan. As you get to the top of the main stair case you are directly outside the girls’ toilets and can see the cubicles, and the handbasins where the girls publically wash their hands.
4. The Principal talked a lot about ‘passion’: the students are so passionate about the school that they would attend on Saturdays; the teachers are passionate about their own subjects, particularly because that is all they teach. There were about four students at the event but they took no part in the Principal’s presentation so did not share their passion with us.
5. The Principal offered no statistics about progress within the school, although presumably progress is monitored so some feedback could have been given.
6. The school appears to be very rule bound; the students enter class rooms when invited by the teacher, they sit according to the teacher’s seating plan and they leave when given permission to do so. They all wear ‘business suits’ and ties, even, it appeared, when putting the wheels on a go-kart.
We were at a loss to see how the regime inspired independent learning or how it prepared students for the world of work, and we stuggled to understand what the school was actually offering, other than a promise of great things that was not backed up by any real evidence. Our son will be going elsewhere!”