Monday, 11 November 2013

ARK Academy: And the dismissal letters went out two by two...

Guest post by 'Ark Angel'

Full union meeting at Copland today as letters go out to those facing the chop next April in the next stage of the cull: only about 50 teachers  took ‘voluntary’ redundancy or otherwise bailed out in the summer. This was not good enough and Targets Must Be Met so some more will have to go. During and after the meeting a number of points were raised including:
·         The fact that the Chair of Ofsted  (which condemned Copland to forced Academy status) is Dame Sally Morgan. Dame Sally Morgan is also an ‘Advisor’ to Ark  Academies. Ark Academies is the business that Copland is being flogged off to*. (This kind of potential conflict of interest is one about which Private Eye magazine has been trying for some time without success to get a straight answer from Ofsted).

·         The reputation that Academies have of a very high staff turnover-rate as a result of poor conditions of service and a bullying management  culture. Reports of teachers on one year contracts only being told on the last day of summer term that their contract was terminated, with no chance even to say goodbye to their classes .

·         The inflated claims of the ‘success’ of the Wembley Ark Academy when they’ve only just got a third year of secondary students in. Even Ian Duncan Smith could manage that, (especially if his school had an ‘Advisor’ who was also Chair of Ofsted). 

·         The inability of Michael Pavey to provide any solid supporting evidence for his decisions regarding Copland other than ones which are inherently compromised by, for example, the historic exceptionalism of Copland’s mismanagement at school and local authority level; events at Crest;  the ability of even Tory Redbridge Council to defend democratic, locally-run education;  and the dubious integrity of an Ofsted organisation which is generally seen as an arm of Michael Gove’s DfE  (with some questionable links to Academy chains). 

·         The timing. The tide is turning against Academies. Sweden is no longer mentioned by Gove because they’ve gone off Academies. Finland never had them despite being praised by Gove. Only half the schools in this country are Academies and comparable countries to ours are dismantling them. Soon they’ll be seen as an historical aberration. Like Betamax. Or Simon Cowell’s trousers.
The mood of the meeting was resolute and determined. Action against the Ark plans and the axing of staff looks like being stepped up.
Next stage of the cull will be Management.
*For  Dame Sally’s inevitable expenses scandal details, see LINK


Dan Filson said...

No doubt Gove wants all schools to be better than average, a task he may find a bit tricky. If you don't understand why, ask a child who has studied averages What is happening at Copland is a tragedy, and our concern should be for the children studying there, or trying to do so, with an endless churn of teachers going on around them.

Anonymous said...

And the churn is set to continue. Ark will impose a new conditions of service contract, more onerous than the current nationally agreed one. As many as possible of the old, experienced teachers will be forced out so that no hint of the old collegiate culture will remain to taint the New Order. Inexperienced , cheap, young teachers will be taken on, and will soon leave to maintain the high rate of turnover found in many Academies. The usual cushions against bully-boy management (the collegiate nature of the job, working together rather than in constant competition, the support of the unions) won't exist. Pay will continue to be effectively frozen, incremental rises will have disappeared, reasonable-colleague managers will have finally been completely replaced by Apprentice-suited clones gabbling corporate-speak claims to be 'passionate' about residuals data, and the last independent-minded Head ready to stand up for his staff against the appalling little pimple Gove and his rough-trade chum Wilshaw will have long ago sailed off into the happiness of the ozone above Beachy Head.

On the other hand, it could all turn out ok........