Vermes (whose previous school was rated outstanding) wrote a furious letter to Ofsted’s chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, telling him she and her team felt like “victims of a mugging” .
There was much she accepted in the report, but she said the “swingeing criticism” and “uninhibited negativity” were simply destructive.
Despite their best efforts her staff, many young and inexperienced, are feeling “almost criminalised”.
“Our terrible outcome has been broadcast all over Oxford – how has that helped our children?” Vermes says. “No wonder heads are hard to recruit or feel suicidal after inspections.”Oh, boo hoo hoo! Dry those tears, love! I’m sure there must be all sorts of excuses you can proffer?
If not, I’m sure the ‘Guardian’ will help out:
Rose Hill’s “terrible outcome” is a tragedy for Vermes, her colleagues, their pupils and the wider school community. But the school’s plight tells a bigger story than individual failure, for its recent troubled history reflects the growing national crisis in teacher recruitment.
Rose Hill finds itself in a particularly tricky situation: it’s a challenging school with a intake of deprived children who have emotional needs that not all teachers are able or willing to work with, and it is situated in one of the most unaffordable cities in the country.Are they deprived, or depraved? It’s the old ‘West Side Story’ question, isn’t it?
The school is less than five miles from the dreaming spires that characterise Oxford in the global imagination, but it might as well be on the other side of the planet. It is a run-down 50s building in desperate need of refurbishment – but the rebuilding programme was halted in 2010 by the coalition government. Now the fabric of the school is visibly crumbling: roofs leak and skylights are broken; the estimated cost of repairs is £1m.I’m pretty sure any bush school in Africa or the Far East would give its eye teeth to have roofs that just leak and working lights, and yet they seem to instill discipline and learning.
Why can’t we do the same?
And why have we got an estate full of such hopeless cases so close to Oxford?
The community the school serves live on a low-rise estate that would once have housed workers at the Cowley car plant. Those jobs have gone and it is now the poorest catchment area in Oxfordshire, and one of the 10% most deprived areas in England according to the 2015 index of multiple deprivation. Almost half the pupils receive pupil premium – an indicator of disadvantage.
Thirty different languages are spoken, with families from Latvia, Ghana, Croatia, Somalia and Nigeria, among many others.Ah. Now I think I can see why this school is failing.
Some teachers struggle when they have children who are not easy to engage, who are rude or hurt others because of the stresses in their home lives. They might go to teach somewhere that’s a bit less of an emotional challenge.”Yes, excusing them from having to abide by the social mores of the UK ‘because deprivation, innit?’, is a recipe for success in later life, I’m sure.
“We’re having to use recruitment agencies to find staff,” says Vermes. One recent appointment cost £5,000 in agency fees.
“We interviewed an Irish teacher on Skype. She was great, she accepted the post – her husband had got a job at the university – and she came over.
But when she got to Oxford and looked at rents she couldn’t afford to live here. It’s such a huge percentage of people’s income. If you move out of Oxford it becomes a little less expensive, but the city is gridlocked in rush hour, so travelling in takes longer and then you have the cost of commuting.”If the best you can recruit are people who can’t weigh up the cost of living before they take up a post, then the school is doomed to fail. The teachers aren’t going to be much brighter than their charges. Raze it to the ground and start again.
Or perhaps stop excusing failure, stop fretting about ‘feelings’ when your charges are inflicting real suffering on each other, start demanding improvement from both pupils and staff on pain of expulsion/firing, and you just might be able to turn the tide.
Wallowing in ‘life’s unfair, boo hoo!’ in the MSM ain’t gonna help…