Monday 31 March 2014


Guestblog from Neonymph

Last week staff at Copland received a message from the proposed new Head saying that she, with a group of students and staff,  ‘together’ had chosen the new school’s name. (This did seem a little premature to some as Mr Gove has apparently not yet signed the Funding Agreement for the school).  Still, it was refreshing to see that, in choosing a new name,  Ark had put its bad old sham ‘consultation’ days behind it and had involved all the stakeholders in the decision-making process. And the extent of that culture-change should not be underestimated. Only a few weeks have passed since Ark’s control-freak nature was revealed in its decision to entrust the running of the new school only to a current employee of Ark working alongside another current employee of Ark who is a product of Ark’s own  Future Leaders processing  system. 

                                                                                                       So letting the staff and students choose the new school name without any guidance from Ark signals a sea-change comparable to McDonalds suddenly allowing its employees to ignore all they were taught at Burger Academy and to start flipping their patties any old way they fancy. (And if  any cynics out there are still sceptical about how democratically the chosen name was arrived at, the words ‘students and staff’ are employed 4 times in the message, along with ‘unanimous’, ‘we’ and ‘together’ in order to set their minds at rest).                                                                                                                                                                        There’s hope for the future too in the aspirational nature of the name Ark have selected. For Sir Arthur Elvin was a man who came from nothing, came to Wembley as an outsider, built up the old Twin Towers stadium, gave jobs to the unemployed, allowed the community to use the athletics, swimming and ice-skating facilities of the Wembley complex, got his hands dirty with his workers picking up litter after an afternoon event in the stadium in readiness for an evening fixture, treated his employees in exemplary fashion and, according to local historians, had their almost universal  respect and affection.  Anyone looking for an aspirational figure would agree that there’s lots here for Ark’s managers, and particularly the hedge fund fat cats, millionaire Tory party donors  and Boris Johnson bankrollers who own it,  to aspire to. (As well as the kids of course).  

                                                 And the names that didn’t make the cut?:  well, The Bob Crow Ark was never really a starter and the long list of names suggested  by Wembley Matters readers here  LINK
probably  wouldn’t have survived the democratic scrutiny of ‘students and staff’ either.       

           Next meeting ‘we’ decide on Ark’s new ‘Ark Elvin Academy’ logo   ‘incorporating some inspirational features of Sir Elvin’s (sic) life’. Any suggestions from Wembley Matters readers would be very welcome . I’m sure that in their new inclusive, democratic and consultative mood, Ark would be delighted to take them on board.

 Meanwhile Hank Roberts of the ATL has written to Annabel Bates (Headteacher designate) about the way the decision was made:

Dear Ms Bates,

You have informed me, as a member of Copland staff, that you have decided on the name of the proposed ARK academy on our Copland Community school site, to be the 'ARK Elvin Academy'.

May I ask on what basis the committee of four staff and six students, that was set up to consider the new school's name, was selected? For example, did you ask for volunteers, was there any particular qualification, were they picked out of a hat?     

Were the committee given one proposed name, a selection of names or did they put forward their own names for consideration?

I also ask, was the Headteacher Dr Richard Marshall and the senior leadership team consulted and if not, why not? Were the Interim Executive Board (IEB) who are the governing body*, consulted? I know that the staff were not consulted, or asked for suggestions or given any options to take part in what you call “an important step forward .. for our school”. But why not? And is your proposed school logo to be decided by the same select committee?

Is this the manner in which you intend to make important decisions affecting the whole school in the future?  There has been no staff 'buy in' to this decision. Even when the name of a pet dog is being chosen, normally the whole family are involved.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely
Hank Roberts  
Joint Copland NUT Rep and ATL Brent Branch Secretary

 * The IEB remains responsible for school decisions until the funding agreement has been signed


Anonymous said...

Ms Bates appears to have found 4 compliant members of staff and 6 students to agree to an Ark proposal on the name of a school which doesn't yet exist. She chooses to ignore the 90% of staff and the 400+ students who have consistently opposed Ark's proposal to put her name, or that of any other Ark employee, on the head teacher's door of that school.
Is this poor judgement, stupidity or simple arrogance?

Anonymous said...

Until we have a Judicial Review it all smells rotten.

Same old same old.Consultation but decisions already made and simply ticket box exercise give impression that people have real say.

What about consultation about Is Ark Academy the most appropriate organization to take over Copland ! Then we might have real progress !

Anonymous said...

Do Brent Councillors ever listen to concerns ?

Kick them all out in May if they sit around and do nothing about Copland. That will teach a lesson to any Councillor not prepared to stand up for a democratic say in the future of Copland.

Surely it would be far better for accountability and transparency for the long term future of Copland for the community to review all options for Copland and not just Ark Academies single minded demands ?

Anonymous said...

Will Copland end up like "Royal Mail" style privatization with the Spivs making the money on redeveloping Copland ?

It just shows priority investors have only 1 interest in making money ahead of everyone else.

Do not let this happen to Copland !

The writing is on the wall those with most to gain ie Ark will make the gains while others take the pain.

We have just witnessed this with Royal Mail being sold on the cheap.

Is it any wonder why Ark have never wanted a democratic say in the long term future of Copland?

Anonymous said...

Ark are not worthy of the great Sir Arthur's name. Even if they did ever manage to achieve all the great qualities he embodied, they'd still be little more than Elvin impersonators. I'll get my coat............

Anonymous said...

I agree that Ark are not worthy of Sir Arthur Elvin's name, but his example will give the school's pupils something to aspire to - leave school aged 14, and make a success of your life by being able to spot a good business opportunity when it arises, then working really hard to ensure that your business provides a quality "product" that your customers want.

Anonymous said...

The new Head Girl they've drafted in to impose Ark's choice of name and then run the school from September (if Michael Gove finds his pen in time to sign the Funding Agreement) may be lacking in judgement and experience, but I can't imagine her single-handedly attempting to lower the school leaving age to 14. She'll no doubt tell us in September that she's in teaching to 'make a difference' (they all get taught to say that at Future Leaders Club) but that would be a difference too far I think. Maybe she could clarify her position on child labour when she replies to Hank Roberts's perfectly legitimate enquiry about her imposition of the new school name. Breaking her silence on these matters (and admitting at the same time that ok, yeah, the 'consultation' was really a sham) would be substantive evidence of her desire to be 'transparent' (another claim to virtue which they learn to parrot at FLC).
* BTW, what IS going on with Gove and the Funding Agreement? What's the hold-up? Various rumours exist. The land still belongs to some old Copland friends.
Brent have found oil.
The hotel chain which has bought the offices opposite has lodged a planning objection claiming that Ark will lower the tone of the area.
The land has a hex on it since the Magic Stone was buried at the multi-faith ceremony held to inaugurate Copland Village (they should never have invited those Order of the Golden Dawn people).
They can't all be true. Can they.......................?

Anonymous said...

Your suspicion of people who claim to want to ‘make a difference’ (without any reference to whether the difference is an improvement) reminds me of our feelings about those management clones who used to urge us sceptical underlings to ‘embrace change’, without feeling any need to demonstrate that the change in question would be a change for the better. While pretending to listen to this bollocks on a course once, we compiled a list of notable ‘change agents’ from history. It went something like this:
Fred West
Jesus Christ
Pol Pot
Charles Manson
The 1933 Weimar German electorate
Richard the Third
Bill Shankly
Dr Harold Shipman
Margaret Thatcher
Josef Stalin
Fred West
Etc etc etc

The idea that 'a difference' or 'change' requires qualification or justification and is not a virtue in itself never seems to occur to the products of management processing plants like Future Leaders appears to be. I'm not really sure whether this is because they're dim or whether it just suits their sales pitch.

mr chas said...

Will Hank Roberts be teaching at the school this term or has he moved on ?