Saturday, 20 February 2016

It’s No Wonder The Kids Can’t Take Criticism Well…

…the teachers are lousy at it too:
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…

13 comments:

Uncle Badger said...

Wasn't 'vermes' the original taxonomical classification of worms?

Being a badger, such things are of great interest to me, of course, but the coincidence between her name and her behaviour seemed to strong not to chuckle at..

Uncle Badger said...

'too' strong, as well!

Apologies.

Anonymous said...

The 10% most deprived area stat is flim flam. A relative works in a junior school where the head encourages the parents to sign up for everything whether they want/need it or not. This includes registering for free school meals, even though the district currently gives free meals to all pupils irrespective of circumstance, as the school gets extra funding for each child "in need". He calculated that this was worth at least an extra grand per child per year.

James Higham said...

I'm well out of it.

Andrew Scarborough said...

The school is housed in a crumbling 1950s building in the shadow of the (somewhat older) dreaming spires of Oxford University. This has nothing to do with it, neither do any of the other straws they are clutching. This is all about badly planned multi-culturalism and poor teaching. We need a good spring cleaning in this country, time to sweep out the vermin.

john gibson said...

her husband had got a job at the university
If this is true, then they can afford rent.
John Gibson

Furor Teutonicus said...

Aye. But the bog cleaner "has a job in the university" as well.

Jonathan said...

"Thirty different languages are spoken, with families from Latvia, Ghana, Croatia, Somalia and Nigeria, among many others."

Obviously, those Letts and Croats are dragging everybody else down with them.

" Now the fabric of the school is visibly crumbling: roofs leak and skylights are broken;"

Sounds like my school in the 1970's.

Jim said...

"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"

B*llocks. The Cowley plant is still there, thriving in fact, as its owned by BMW and makes the Mini range of cars. 4000 people work there.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_Oxford#Plant_Oxford_today

http://www.mini-production-triangle.com/facts-figures/mini-production.aspx

The unemployment rate in Oxford is also far lower than the national average at 3.6% (vs 5.4% - https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/reports/lmp/la/1946157324/report.aspx?town=oxford#tabempunemp) which is virtually what one now calls full employment - in that sort of job market if you actually want a job you can find one. I live in Swindon, which has a higher unemployment rate of 4.7%, and there are plenty of jobs here if you want one. So if you're unemployed in Oxford you must be unemployable.

Northish said...

Jim, get away with your facts and reasoned argument. How are we supposed to feel moral outrage at this needless austerity, imposed by the evil government that hardly anyone voted for, when you undermine the article so completely.

Anonymous said...

I would suspect this school gets a lot more funding per pupil than most school due to its "deprived" status, and having seen the (obscene) amount of money available for schools for building repairs and maintenance as a governor, I can only think that they are not trying hard enough.

May I just take issue on the language diversity. During a governor training session, we were told in no uncertain terms that it is an excuse used by bad schools because multilingual children do tend to fare a lot better overall than monolingual ones, albeit with a slower start, and will usually be in the top 20%. That's a fact (my own children speak 3 languages and the oldest a fourth), which I have noted in our primary school In the words of that trainer, a school needs to adapt to its children, the same way a business should focus on its customers.

Our head also took our demotion from outstanding to good quite badly. However, instead of whining, it has been a kick in the backside and the school will undoubtedly become outstanding again. Maybe the head in the article should look for employment elsewhere?

JuliaM said...

"Wasn't 'vermes' the original taxonomical classification of worms?"

;)

" A relative works in a junior school where the head encourages the parents to sign up for everything whether they want/need it or not. This includes registering for free school meals, even though the district currently gives free meals to all pupils irrespective of circumstance, as the school gets extra funding for each child "in need"."

Like all statistics, you need to investigate, before trusting!

"Aye. But the bog cleaner "has a job in the university" as well."

Heh! True!

JuliaM said...

"Sounds like my school in the 1970's."

Ditto! Didn't stop us learning.

"...if you're unemployed in Oxford you must be unemployable."

Or your desired job is not within your reach because you don't have the skills, and you also lack the intelligence to realise this, and either take a 'lesser' job or retrain...

"During a governor training session, we were told in no uncertain terms that it is an excuse used by bad schools because multilingual children do tend to fare a lot better overall than monolingual ones..."

Excellent!