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Education Rant

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suze
1338268.  Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:13 pm Reply with quote

Thanks for raising this, Jenny. While I didn't hear the caller's conversation with James O'Brien, there have been memos and emails flying around since it happened on Tuesday. Incidentally, one of the commentors believes that the photographs in the Kent Live piece are actually Hartlepool and not Thanet. I cannot vouch for that, but they don't look like Thanet. Such is the standard of local journalism in our time, I'm afraid.

I'm in two minds about whether to name the head and the school here. While Kent Live to which you link chooses not to, other print media and local radio have done. For now I shall allow discretion to be the better part of valour, but note in passing that the fellow is a renowned publicity seeker. He also once described teaching at his own school as "poor" in a job ad. Since I don't know any of the teachers who worked for him at that time I cannot say whether this was true, but even if it is true you don't fucking say it in public.

So it's fair to say that he's not one of my favourite people - but at the same time, what he says about poverty in parts of Thanet is absolutely true. Thanet is the poorest borough in the south east, and by just about every measure has more severe social problems than anywhere else in the south east. Chatham and Hastings are as Chelsea and Mayfair when compared to Thanet.

And yet it keeps electing Conservative MPs - and what's more, both of its MPs immediately prior to dissolution were from the harder right within the Conservative Party. It's also the only borough in England which has ever had the council controlled by UKIP. How much sympathy should one have for people who keep saying "My town is shit" but carry on voting Conservative anyway?

 
barbados
1338276.  Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:55 pm Reply with quote

The thing is, it wasn't always shit was it.
I have a feeling that the change in leadership may have had an effect, the previous OFSTEDS have been good, and it appears to be the second inspection following the joining the MAT.
Although looking at the other schools in the MAT - the caller's school is the least of their problems

 
suze
1338279.  Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:21 pm Reply with quote

What is MAT?

The school under discussion here got "Requires Improvement" at its most recent Ofsted inspection, as against "Good" the time before. But we should note first of all that "Good" used to be a better grade than it is now, and second we should note that the Head and the Governors dispute Ofsted's grading. They assert that it measures the wrong things in the wrong way, and they do have some part of a point.

At the same time though, there was either some remarkably unfortunate scheduling or some skullduggery. On previous occasions the sixth form had been identified as one of less satisfactory parts of the school. You'd imagine that the Ofsted people would have been keen to see what had or hadn't changed there - but it just so happened that the sixth form pupils were out of school for the two days of Ofsted's visit, so they couldn't.

But the shitness to which I referred wasn't the school so much as the town in which it is located. Those readers who do not live in the south east probably imagine that everywhere in the south east is full of Boris Johnson-alikes. Everyone talks posh, everyone has three fancy cars, everyone is filthy rich. That's actually Surrey, and Thanet really, really isn't like that.

By some measures it is the poorest borough in the whole of England. For a dozen reasons it has a long history of low wages and low achievement in school. Historically it was predominantly agricultural, and little value was placed on formal education. It also has Britain's largest Roma community, and that community has historically placed little value on formal education.

Some things have changed; some things haven't. But those in Thanet who complain that "We don't have anything here" do have to bear in mind that this is in part because they keep voting for Conservatives who won't pay for anything.

 
barbados
1338282.  Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:44 am Reply with quote

For the sake of disclosure, I listened to the conversation (not just that particular call) That is how I knew where the school was, and the conversation wasnít really about the education, it was about homelessness.
That said, Iím not as familiar with the Isle of Thanet as possibly you are, I can never remember the town where the school is being anything other than depressed. And while the particular constituency has had the same MP almost since inception most of the residents that would vote have probably voted for him since they retired to the area just before the constituency was formed. Local council elections however have not been so static, currently under NOC, and this, as with the shitholeness, has been the case for l(my) living memory. So how can you you blame a single party for the state of the local community? If it had gone down hill in the last ten years then maybe you can point the finger of blame, but what has happened is people have become more mobile, and what was once a thriving seaside town in Kent is no longer in that position, because there are much nicer places to go in the same journey time it took to get to Thanet when itís coastal towns were thriving. That isnít that Thanetís towns became rough overnight, but there is a reason why they built a wind farm there rather than a solar farm, and if you want a thriving seaside economy - you have to have the visitor numbers to cover the months when they are nonexistent.
That is what has caused the issue, not the government of the last 10 years

 
barbados
1338283.  Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:47 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
What is MAT?

Multi Academy Trust
A cursory glance through the (secondary) schools in that particular trust indicates that the school in the report is actually one of the better ones.

 
suze
1338294.  Sat Dec 07, 2019 7:03 am Reply with quote

Thanet Council is actually currently under Labour control, though without a majority, but that's only been the case for the last six weeks.

This year's elections led to the formation of a minority Conservative administration, but it collapsed on a confidence vote, one councillor who had been elected as a Conservative crossed the floor, and Labour was able to form an administration. It probably won't last long, and I certainly don't blame you for not knowing about it.

I don't actually know Thanet all that well. We go there for cricket once or twice a year, and there's a meeting of Heads of English that I have to go to each year which is usually held in Thanet. (You're right, Thanet is a ridiculous location for a meetong which has people from right across Kent attending. Maidstone would be a far better location, but that's obviously too sensible.)

Andy goes back rather further with Thanet than I do, and he doesn't really dispute your contention that it's always been a bit of a dump. The really crap bits are not the same ones that they were twenty years ago, though, and that's largely because of HS1. Thanet used to be considered too far out for commuters, but that that has changed a bit if you live near Ramsgate station (which is not in the town centre). Consequently, the area within walking distance of Ramsgate station has gentrified; the rest of the borough has fared less well.

I dare say you're right that the people who keep electing that particular MP are in large part retired folk. But if the less well off people don't get off their arses to vote for someone different, that is their own fault. They got off their arses to vote Leave, even though many of them probably didn't really understand the question, and even though (or because?) that veteran MP actually supported Remain.


But OK, I should have understood MAT, much as most others here wouldn't be expected to. It was Friday night, is my excuse! I'd got as far as Academy Trust, and was thinking of the name of the particular one - which doesn't start with an M.

You're absolutely right to say that all of the schools in that trust have issues, but I don't really have the knowledge to compare them in detail. Don't believe everything that Ofsted says, though; that is one thing on which I will agree with that Head.

 
barbados
1338297.  Sat Dec 07, 2019 8:24 am Reply with quote

Oh yes I fully agree with the not believing everything OFSTED say, Iíd go as far as to say that it is a conversation that we can both have some informed knowledge, possibly more thqn some others here.
Having heard the conversation I donít for one second think that the outcome of an inspection today would have a different outcome, if only for the fact that the there has been an emphasis change on what is looked for, and safeguarding is at the front of the queue - from the call that area could only be judged as outstanding and it would be difficult to justify a required improvement with outstanding qualities

 
suze
1338327.  Sat Dec 07, 2019 5:26 pm Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
Oh yes I fully agree with the not believing everything OFSTED say, Iíd go as far as to say that it is a conversation that we can both have some informed knowledge, possibly more thqn some others here.


I'm sure we could, although in fact I've not seen an Ofsted inspector for a fair while. As I expect you know, schools which got Outstanding last time around are not at present routinely reinspected. This is supposed to be changing, but the government has been saying that for a while and not actually done anything about it.

When Mr Cameron was PM, everything was about not spending money and that is why the policy was adopted. When Mrs May was PM, everything was about wanting to spend money but sorry, there isn't any.

Now that Mr Johnson is PM, he wants us to believe that so-called austerity was all a big mistake. It's a shame that he wasn't saying that when Mr Cameron took us down that road, but if he is still the Prime Minister in a week's time then maybe we can expect some action on this particular issue next year.


barbados wrote:
Safeguarding is at the front of the queue - from the call that area could only be judged as outstanding and it would be difficult to justify a required improvement with outstanding qualities


There can be no doubt that the school under discussion does a very good job in that respect. The Head has noted that if Ofsted's grade were based on service to its community alone then the school would be Outstanding, and I'm sure he's right.

I'm less sure that it ought to be that high on Ofsted's agenda, though. Let's see who gets Education in the next government. I didn't mind Nicky Morgan or Justine Greening, but neither will be an MP in a week's time so it won't be them. If it's Michael Gove, forget it - we'll have six year olds spending seven hours a day reciting Latin verbs. If it's Jacob Rees-Mogg, God help us all - but if it's Angela Rayner, that might not be enough.

Bold prediction: Justine Greening will sit in the Education chair again, as a member of the next Labour government in 2024.

 
Zziggy
1340272.  Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:47 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
PDR wrote:
But his school had apparently told him that he should choose "one A-level for his career and one for 'interest' ", which is just plain barking.


That is not only Barking, but quite possibly Dagenham as well.

I'm quite happy if a girl wants to take (say) GCSE Art because she's interested in painting, even if it's not relevant to her future aspirations. One subject at GCSE, no problem at all. One of three A levels, absolutely not.


<shifts nervously in seat> ha ha yeah who would take A Levels for fun ha ha so short sighted amiright guys

 
barbados
1368337.  Tue Dec 15, 2020 3:10 pm Reply with quote

I saw this and thought of suze......
Quote:
Just a reminder that term will finish one
day earlier than scheduled on Thursday
17th December. We'd like to confirm
that this isn't just to give teachers an
extra day off, but so fucking what if it

was? While millions of others are doing
Zoom meetings with no bastard pants
on we've been cramming ourselves into
classrooms for hours on end with up to
thirty miniature biohazards whose idea

of 'social distancing' is to only try and
lick each other's faces three times an
hour instead of seven, and even when
we did get to shut do you really think
that all of those home learning materials
just fell out of our collective arseholes?

Also, please send in £1 for Christmas
Cupcake Baking on Wednesday.
Thanks, School Office

 
suze
1368350.  Tue Dec 15, 2020 5:05 pm Reply with quote

Quite right too!

It hardly needs to be said that certain elements of the media have decided that it is indeed just "teachers giving themselves yet another day off". As for the commentors on the Daily Mail's coverage of the story, I have never committed a murder but I will do if some of them come anywhere me. That is not a threat, it's a promise.

The suggestion from government was that we use Friday as an INSET day and then convert one of next year's INSET days into a normal school day. That does make a certain amount of sense, or at least it would if it were possible to organise an INSET day on such short notice.

We're not doing that. It's a normal school day, but no one does very much on the last day of term in December anyway. They sit around doing nothing much, and are dismissed at lunchtime. So we've decided that while it is a normal school day, pupils need not attend. (Please don't ask about registers at this point. Arrangements will be made.)

How many actually will attend we don't really know, but there will be things for them to do. I will be attending, but it's a non uniform day anyway (as is Thursday, so those who don't attend on Friday won't miss out) and the Head says she "won't notice" if teachers choose to wear casual clothing.

 
Alexander Howard
1368355.  Tue Dec 15, 2020 5:44 pm Reply with quote

Also at the moment teachers can find themselves working twice as hard - teaching the dwindling class in front of them, and also teaching those staying at home participating by Zoom (if they are). This is in effect teaching two separate classes at once, and they must prepare two lesson plans for each lesson.

 
Jenny
1368446.  Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:59 am Reply with quote

Zziggy wrote:
suze wrote:
PDR wrote:
But his school had apparently told him that he should choose "one A-level for his career and one for 'interest' ", which is just plain barking.


That is not only Barking, but quite possibly Dagenham as well.

I'm quite happy if a girl wants to take (say) GCSE Art because she's interested in painting, even if it's not relevant to her future aspirations. One subject at GCSE, no problem at all. One of three A levels, absolutely not.


<shifts nervously in seat> ha ha yeah who would take A Levels for fun ha ha so short sighted amiright guys


Me in 1968, but Art was my fourth A level. The others were English, History and Biology.

Weirdly, I got grades so poor for my O level Art and Biology that I doubt whether schools nowadays would allow me to take the A level, though my English and History grades were good. However, I was very interested in Biology and the state of play of the curriculum at that point was before it got so close to being an offshoot of Chemistry, at which I was so bad that the school wouldn't allow me to take the O level.

My A level grades weren't spectacular - A for English (of course), C for History, C for Biology and D for Art. They got me into university, which was all that was needed. However, the Biology A level, though it was no use at all for my teaching career, actually made me a fair amount of money when I used it to understand and write about research on topics relating to babies and child care, about which I wrote an awful lot of articles for a mother-and-baby magazine in the 90s, and it has supported my continuing interest in biology through my life. My Art A level was no use at all for university entrance, but the things it taught me have given me a great deal of pleasure throughout my life, which seems to me as reasonable a reason as any to do an A level.

 
suze
1368456.  Wed Dec 16, 2020 1:09 pm Reply with quote

Alexander Howard wrote:
Also at the moment teachers can find themselves working twice as hard - teaching the dwindling class in front of them, and also teaching those staying at home participating by Zoom (if they are). This is in effect teaching two separate classes at once, and they must prepare two lesson plans for each lesson.


You're the one who has friends in the Conservative Party. Maybe you should tell them this, because they appear not to know.


I had the opportunity to listen to PMQs today, and I was pleased to note that one Conservative backbencher - to whom I apologise, because I didn't note his name - did call for more money for both schools and teachers. He didn't get much of an answer from the Prime Minister, but that's standard. Mr Johnson doesn't actually answer any of the questions he is asked at PMQs.


While I'm here, two other observations from PMQs. I was not previously aware of the woman who is now the Honourable Member for Beaconsfield in succession to Dominic Grieve, but she is both American and called Morrissey. Both things are of some concern.


Meanwhile, the Prime Minister fell for a bit of mischief from Mr Speaker. One of the questions from the back benches mentioned the rugby leaguist Kevin Sinfield, who has been running marathons for charity. When Mr Johnson referred in his answer to "Mr Sinfield", Mr Speaker - known to be a follower of rugby league, a thing that the PM is not believed to be - interjected "Sir Kevin". At this point the PM excused himself for inaccurate nomenclature, and referred twice to "Sir Kevin Sinfield" in the next 30 seconds.

In truth, he is Mr Kevin Sinfield MBE. For reasons which I don't know he is known as "Sir Kev" in rugby league circles, but is not an actual knight. But now that he's in Hansard as "Sir Kevin Sinfield", does this oblige the government to make it so?

 
Spike
1368481.  Wed Dec 16, 2020 2:47 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:


While I'm here, two other observations from PMQs. I was not previously aware of the woman who is now the Honourable Member for Beaconsfield in succession to Dominic Grieve, but she is both American and called Morrissey. Both things are of some concern.


You are right to be concerned. She doesnít have a quarter of the intelligence or sense of her predecessor and is to the right of Ghenghis Khan. I wish she and the glorious Mr Baker would run away together. They deserve each other.

 

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