Saturday 11 January 2014

That's The Way To Do It..!

The school's motto – brought to the attention of its pupils daily – says it all: "Work hard, be nice and no excuses."
It wasn't always so. Its principal, Dame Sharon Hollows, recalls trying to persuade a neighbouring school to use the school's swimming pool. "They said no," she said. "When I asked them why, they said that when they had used it in the past, the children used to throw chairs at them out of the third floor window and spit at them."

Who'd want a job cleaning out this Augean stables?
The task facing Dame Sharon as the first head of the new academy five years ago was immense.
Fourteen years ago, not a single pupil at the school achieved five A* to C grade passes at GCSE, including maths and English. A decade ago, the school was languishing in the bottom three of national school league tables with only 3 per cent.
Today it can boast 68 per cent A* to Cs – making it the top performing school in the city and above average for the country.
Well, well, well. Academy status seems to have been the key...
"I have to say it has been different to my experience in London," she said. "There I've always worked with schools with very diverse ethnic school intakes. This one is not – this is predominantly white working class. The challenges are different.
"I met so many families here who just didn't have any expectations for anything other than generation on generation of dependence on the state."
So what turned it around? Special treatment for those children experiencing 'difficulties'? Lowering expectations on them so they could be said to 'succeed'? All the things the NUT demand for their little fiefdoms?

It starts, though, with discipline and attendance, she said, so one of her first acts on taking over at Charter – apart from ensuring the motto was printed on the front of the school building for all to see when they arrived – was to insist on the wearing of a school uniform.
She also hired a team of pastoral support workers – ex-Royal Navy personnel – who patrolled the school sorting out problems.
"The Navy is a very valuable source of personnel," she said. "Most of them retire from the navy in their early forties."
If children did not turn up at school, a car was immediately despatched to their home to bring the recalcitrant pupils into school. If it did not find them on the first visit, the car went back again.
Staff also patrol the school gate before and after school to make sure the pupils arrive and leave in an orderly fashion.
 I'm astounded!
Naomi Carter, a vice-principal at the school who worked at St Luke's before the changes, said: "It has been a real privilege working for this school. In the olden days, the staff weren't challenged, the kids weren't challenged. Now it's made clear. If you're going to come here, you're going to work."
No wonder the progressives are worried! All the things they decry about formal education have been shown to work...
...other state schools in a similar situation come to Dame Sharon Hollows to learn from her.
"They are very keen to see what we've done," she said, The key, she is telling them, is to put an end to any conscious or subconscious thought along the lines of "What can you expect from these kids?".
Gove's vision is winning. Can he weather the backlash from the vested interests? I really, really hope so.


The Blocked Dwarf said...

Bit 'blue sky', bit radical, this whole 'attending school to learn''ll never catch on, mark my words.

The red bottomed cockatrice in the classroom remains though. Do none of the 'experts' realise that the 22th July 1986 was to Schools what the 1st July 2007 was to pubs?

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is that it is just common-sense. My local newspapers will have at least one story a week about some chav mother or father posing with their little Wayne or Waynetta bleating about being sent home/suspended for clear breaches of the school's uniform/appearance/discipline rules.

Anonymous said...


One of the issues is making some jobs graduate professions, hence teachers being 'trained' in a particular mind set. It is off topic but the example is correct, I was speaking to a young man who was going to start an environmental energy masters degree. His comments re fracking were straight out of the Greenpeace manual. Which is also the problem with the trainee teachers that their training is straight out of the progressive movement manual.

ReefKnot said...

Gove needs another Parliamentary term to achieve his objectives. I fear he will not get it.

Antisthenes said...

"Can he weather the backlash from the vested interests? I really, really hope so."

Well I did not. Many years ago I ran a training establishment for seven years. We were supported by the RTITB a government transport training quango. During that seven years we became heavily involved in apprenticeships for budding mechanics. At first we sent them on their day release to the local colleges but soon found that the level of teaching to be poor and the pass rate for the City and Guilds even more so and only 48% passed. So we set up our own college and immediately the pass rate went up to 98%. Of course the local colleges were not happy so they put pressure on the quango and being the good bureaucrats that they are forced our college to close.

Mr. Morden said...

Sorry to poor cold water on what is, a good feel story but, I do not think the Conservative's, and thereby Gove will be in power for mush longer. You can blame, call me Dave for that.

JuliaM said...

"The red bottomed cockatrice in the classroom remains though. "

It's an uphill struggle, no doubt...

"One of the issues is making some jobs graduate professions, hence teachers being 'trained' in a particular mind set. "

The sort of mindset that sees nothing wrong with their union attending a vigil for a dead gangsta, I guess...

"You can blame, call me Dave for that."

I do! Frequently!