Friday 15 February 2013

How Michael Gove is killing democracy in our schools

This letter to Michael Gove from parents of yet another school that is being forced to become an academy,  demonstrates just how governors, staff and parents are being trampled on:

Dear Mr Gove,

We are a group of parents whose children attend Thomas Gamuel Primary School (TGPS) in Walthamstow, east London.We are writing to object to the Department for Education’s decision to force TGPS into Sponsored Academy status, ignoring the objections of the parents, carers, teachers, support staff and governing body

:• 95 per cent of parents returning a ballot voted against academy status (60 per cent of parents voted)• 85 per cent of teachers voted against converting
• The governing body unanimously voted against becoming a sponsored academy.

We understand that the local authority has this week applied to you 'for consent to constitute the governing body of Thomas Gamuel Primary School as an Interim Executive Board (IEB) in accordance with Schedule 6 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006'. We strongly object to this application to dissolve a governing body that has made a decision the local authority disagree with.

We have met with our local MP Stella Creasy and our local councillor Clare Coghill to try and get some answers. We now write to you to outline our major objections and to ask that you reject the local authority’s application and allow the school to continue on its current path to improvement:

1. We are not a failing school. Ofsted inspected TGPS in April 2012. They rated the school ‘inadequate’, mainly due to an administrative error, informing the governing body two months after the inspection at the end of the summer term. Ofsted allocated a timetable for improvement between June 2012 and April 2013 (nine months). Ofsted’s interim monitoring report in November 2012 (three months into the plan) said the school was making ‘satisfactory progress’ in implementing its improvement plan. The monitoring report specifically noted that the administrative error which had caused the 'requires improvement' rating in April 2012 had now been fully resolved.The DfE states on its website that: 'When schools have been underperforming for a long time, decisive action is needed to raise standards and ensure that the children in these schools are able to achieve their full potential.'TGPS’ previous two Ofsted reports (2009 and 2006) rated the school 'good' with 'outstanding' aspects. We do not understand why one unsatisfactory Ofsted report classes us as ‘underperforming for a long time’

2. Teaching standards are improving. We are aware that teaching standards in the school need to be raised. The parents and carers are confident that this is being achieved. The teachers and support staff, and the governing body are confident, indeed even Ofsted is confident - as it reported in its monitoring inspection in November 2012. Why then is the DfE forcing TGPS to rush into Sponsored Academy status?The DfE states: 'Wherever possible, the Department will seek to find solutions to raising standards that everyone can agree on - as has been the case with the vast majority of the schools that have become academies. Where under performance is not being tackled effectively the Secretary of State does have powers to intervene to help ensure standards are raised.'The School Improvement Plan in place is tackling underperformance - and we as parents can see the visible results of this. We are all committed to this plan and want the DfE to allow the plan to run the course of its original timetable (April 2013).As stated earlier, the parents of children at the school have voted overwhelmingly against sponsored academy status. The school governing body have voted against it. The teachers at the school are against it. How is the DfE seeking to find a solution that ‘everyone can agree on’?

3. We are not being consulted. Since October 2012 the DfE has been consistently applying pressure to TGPS’ governing body to agree to conversion to sponsored academy status. The Local Education Authority is now also applying pressure, regardless of the fact that the improvement plan’s original timetable – agreed by Ofsted – has not expired.The governing body originally voted against making a decision without consulting parents and chose instead to focus on improving teaching standards within the school. When they did consult with us, they listened and voted with us. The local authority is now planning to take away the only body that truly has our children’s best interests at heart.We want the original school improvement plan and timetable – ratified by Ofsted – to stand. The changes that have already been implemented need time to embed.We want to make an informed, unrushed decision about our future status. A proper consultation – with all the facts about what the change will actually mean – needs to take place. We would like a choice of sponsor. There has been a lack of transparency of the criteria used by the DfE/local authority to choose the proposed sponsor.

Thank you again for your time and attention.

Yours sincerely

TGPS Parents Say No 
(Representing the voice of the majority of parents and carers at Thomas Gamuel Primary School)

1 comment:

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group said...

I have just tracked down this blog post by way of a site search on the word 'Ofsted'.

In thinking about the number of Ofsted inspection results that have been overruled in the government's determination to privatise the schooling system, it has struck me that it might be worth while asking about recruitment and retention of Ofsted inspectors. Who would like their word to be over-ruled?

It has also struck me that whereas there used to be imbalance of bargaining power between State and benefit claimants, the uprush of 'conditionality' and benefit sanctions that has led to burgeoning deaths of benefit claimants and subsequent DWP INTERNAL enquiries, there is now a huge imbalance of scrutiny.

Dude Swheatie of Kwug