We need some guidance in a dispute between the leadership team and governors and a large group of parents at Kevicc in Totnes

Joanne Tisdall's picture
 50
I would be really grateful for any shared experience or advice that others have of a breakdown in trust between parents and a school.
Kevicc is a large community school (1800 children) in Totnes, Devon. Among other things it has the dubious distinction of being the school Toby Young went to in the 80s that he often refers to as the negative experience that informed his views today.
For many years it has been a somewhat artsy and progressive school (as you might expect in Totnes) in the mainstream system. And, with a trusted and charismatic head, it was also deemed a successful one in the last few years. However, when the long-standing head retired, the role was taken by a deputy, who many would argue has failed to maintain the former vision for the school or effect a new one.
It has also had 2 'satisfactory' Ofsteds on the run, the latest criticising the leadership and inconsistent teaching, but significantly not the behaviour of the children.
In one of a number of responses to the Ofsted and a falling role at the school, the school has become a Cooperative Trust School to avoid being turned into an Academy. Transition Town Totnes and the Coop are key partners.
In another response the head and governors decided to go out to consultation on bringing back a school uniform. Uniform sounds trivial, but we all know what passions they inflame and for Kevicc being one of the few non-uniform schools in the country has been a very significant part of its unique identity and part of its vision of supporting childrens' freedom of expression (and behaviour is good). In February, the governors voted to reinstate the uniform with the usual arguments.
Since then all hell has let loose in the school and it really is not an exaggeration to say that it is on the brink of meltdown.
Firstly a group of parents, of which I am one, objected to the way the consultation was done. The school refused to review. Letters in the local paper accumulated. Mediation was proposed by parents - and Transition Town - no response. Eventually, two weeks a go, a large group of children demonstrated against a uniform in school time, by coming out of lessons, banners etc. Film crews arrived, firebells were set off etc, etc, . Some children also protested on two following days. All these children (and mistakenly others) have been given 2 days internal exclusion plus other punishments. Many of these internal exclusions are being carried out next week when the children are due to be on activities for which parents have already paid.
Parents, including me, are very angry about the treatment of our children and also the way this has been communicated to us. There is a total breakdown of trust in the school and of faith in the the leadership team. Many (probably about 50 parents) have sent formal letters of complaint, but the atmosphere among parents is one of steely calm and determination. We have tasked a mediator paid for by Devon County Council to mediate on the many issues we now have with the school.
We are acutely aware that our actions - the formal complaints, non-compliance with uniform (by not ordering it for September), keeping children off school rather than complying with internal exclusions - may contribute to the school being given an order to improve or worse. The irony is that most of this group of parents are incredibly committed to the school, believe in inclusive local education and chose to send them to Kevicc when they could have gone to the grammar schools in a neighbouring area. Some attended the school themselves and are heartbroken about what has happened. We could attempt a Free School, but many, including myself, would rather eat our pets.
What else can we do?
Share on Twitter

Comments

Fiona Millar's picture
Fri, 13/07/2012 - 15:34

This is a very troubling story and I think the simple answer is that the head and governors should think again . You don't say what the results of the consultation are but if the majority of the school community was not in favour of these changes, I think the governing body should listen to that. If they don't listen, it proves how empty the phrase 'parent power' really is. Incidentally there is no evidence that I am aware of to prove a school uniform is necessary to either improve discipline or raise standards. Many parents and pupils want one ( fine), other schools use uniforms as part of a marketing strategy ( fine) but my daughter's school ( outstanding at its last Ofsted and still rapidly improving) doesn't have one. Parents and pupils and have rejected the idea in the past and I believe the school leadership and governing body is respected for listening to their views. It doesn't appear to have had an impact on the schools effectiveness and probably now attracts parents and pupils who don't want either a boot camp, or a faux public school, for their children. Believe it or not, there are quite a lot of us out here. Good luck and do keep us posted.

Guest's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 11:26

To paraphrase the whole thread..it would appear that the majority of the school community didn't care either way but the anti-uniform minority who still lost the original vote are determined to get their own way , happily creating havoc within the school whilst blaming the school leadership team .

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 13/07/2012 - 16:23

There is no evidence to support the theory that school uniforms improve behaviour.

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/03/dfe-can-produce-no-academi...

and here is a longer article by Fiona on school uniforms:

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/03/2582/

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Fri, 13/07/2012 - 18:25

We have been through the entire debate on uniforms including all the arguments and evidence above. I myself was a vice-chair of governors of a Camden primary school when it introduced a school uniform. I did not vote for it, but it was done properly. But sadly the crisis at Kevicc has moved way beyond the uniform debate now. We are dealing with a huge schism in the school community over the way that the school is managed and the way the school is treating parents and children. I have just heard that the school has dismissed our precondition for mediation, which was to suspend punishment of children next week while mediation takes place. They have used the argument this is unfair to children who have already been punished. This would be a valid argument if these students were not also the children of the same group of parents. One of my sons was punished this week, with the other is due to internally excluded next week.
We feel the school leadership and governors have turned their faces to the wall and we are at a loss at how to deal with that.

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Fri, 13/07/2012 - 18:34

More information about the situation at Kevicc is at http://www.facebook.com/keviccdeservesbetter. I should also add there are many good things about the school, one of which is, or at least has been, that children seem on the whole very relaxed and happy there. This doesn't mean it's in the achievement dog-house either. For example, although it has a performing arts specialism, it was the top school in Devon in this year's Maths Challenge.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Fri, 13/07/2012 - 19:09

Joanne would it be fair to say that Kevicc has a huge problem because it needs a head like the old one and such a head doesn't exist?

It takes time for such a head to mature in ability and they need a lot of support and protection from threats and politics in their early years. They need to be nurtured by a community of people who can inspire them to eventually become like the head who retired. It also takes time to build the confidence, trust and established position the old head had.

During those early years when a new head is trying to establish themselves the school is extremely vulnerable to 'being improved'. 'Being improved' really is like 1984 for a school like Kevicc. But that's the system now. What else is there?

I've watched schools 'being improved' so many times they've gone from being nationally respected and bursting at the seams with potential staff begging to work there to being completely unable to recruit and much smaller schools. I'm watching another strong school beginning that decline and am seeing the best teachers being destroyed with stress by the improvement systems which required them to teach in very ignorant ways or made into being one of the required scapegoats to systematically discredit them because they were unable to sufficiently well conceal that they were not convinced by the wisdom of the latest pathalogically bullying head brought in to 'improve' the school. The process always kicks in after the old head retired and it's usually partly fuelled by the new head being a new head rather than the old head and so their vulnerabilities are much more obvious.

If you get a sniff of a decent head you need to get them in by whatever means possible and build a protective ring of support around them which will support them when they fail and are vulnerable. It's essential you have wise governors who can play a key role in this and those governors also need to be supported because they are vulnerable too. Then you need to make sure your LA or other local systems will not target or scapegoat the school.

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Fri, 13/07/2012 - 19:39

My children started two years ago when we left London and the old head had already retired, but I suspect there is a lot of truth in what you are saying. In a certain sort of way, organisations can go into a form of mourning when charismatic people leave that takes a long time to get through. Also some even very highly talented people are just better at following than they are when under the spotlight and required to lead. I suspect she is trying to lead Kevicc through a period of improvement as you describe, but people do not seem to have sufficient confidence in her, the destination or the journey to follow. At bottom, the feeling is that the introduction of a uniform has been an ill-considered attempt to 'improve' the schools image rather than being open about its problems in teaching and learning and leadership. Kevicc Deserves Better Feel the introduction of the uniform is somehow an attempt to suggest that it is the children who need improving/rebranding, when the children are wonderful just as they are.
If I were chair of governors at Kevicc right now, I think I would be bringing in a sympatico head as a mentor. I wonder if anyone knows any that would like a trip to the country!

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Fri, 13/07/2012 - 19:47

I think the kind of head you mean are in very short supply, but just to reassure you that such heads do exist can I suggest you look at this thread and maybe listen to the audio recording. It lasts an hour but it's worth planning in with a cuppa if you can.
http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2012/07/rsa-debate-is-education-th...

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Fri, 13/07/2012 - 22:10

Fiona raises am important point regarding "if the majority of the school community was not in favour of these changes".

We fought against conversion to an Academy at my child's secondary school but I still accept that we were a "noisy minority" of parents and the majority of parents weren't bothered either way ( for a school of roughly 700 families only 80 people turned up to the first consultation , only 70 to a far better publicised second meeting).

However if my child had shown disrespect to teachers by walking out of lessons and disrupting other childrens education I can assure you that the bollocking he would have got at home would far outweigh the isolation ( = internal exclusion ????) administered by the school.

howard's picture
Fri, 13/07/2012 - 22:53

Rosie
I'm with you on this one. Walking out of lessons and, especially, setting off the fire alarms is not acceptable and the punishment for this behaviour does not seem excessive. In my opinion, we should not rush to judgement that it's the school that's been acting unreasonably. There are two sides to every story. How representative is this group of 50 or so parents or the "large" group of pupils who protested? How reasonable has the opposition to a uniform been? The back-drop to all this is that the school has only achieved two satisfactory OFSTED scores in a row and would be in serious trouble under the new inspection regime. It's also experiencing falling rolls. Sometimes, one needs to step back and see the bigger picture.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 14/07/2012 - 06:31

The bigger picture may be that the only way a head can establish their authority in a difficult situation like this is to win the approval of Ofsted. Two satisfactories is unsatisfactory now so this head is wide open to everyone who reads the mainstream press criticising them and disrespecting them.

Since Ofsted ratings are based on core target results the head will have to focus on those targets with extreme determination. It's exceptionally difficult to do that to the level necessary while maintaining a child centred culture. These tensions have caused the behaviour of the children and now the behaviour of the children will explicitly justify the 'improvement model'.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Sat, 14/07/2012 - 08:54

I have to say that it is not so much the behaviour of the children ( they are after all children and appropriate discipline has been undertaken ) it is the post-walkout behaviour of the parents that concerns me .

Quote "I have just heard that the school has dismissed our precondition for mediation, which was to suspend punishment of children next week while mediation takes place. They have used the argument this is unfair to children who have already been punished. "

You really need to separate the school walkout from the uniform issue ( the end does not justify the means) ; it is not appropriate to place suspension of punishment as a pre-condition to mediation ;the sanctions are fair and you and the other parents would gain a huge amount of credibility if you could stop think and say "yeah actually they were upset but it's a fair cop".

What must be disturbing for the school management team is that the the strength of parents objection and lack of impartiality does imply, fairly or unfairly, that there may have been a degree of premediatated parental incitement to the children's action ; a disturbing and higly offensive premise that you need to squash .

The school is being very weak in offering the wet platitude that it's not fair on the kids
who've already been punished ; what they should be explaining is that they would expect parents to be able to see it's unacceptable to cause disruption in the school whatsoever the grievance and support the school while also reviewing more legitimate actions with their child .

If the parents want to gain respect and credibility and move this issue on then I do feel you need to step back and review your attitude to the walk-out and what has followed.

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Sat, 14/07/2012 - 12:53

Thanks for debating the issue and it is very helpful to see what has happened from other points of view. For a little more background, a group of parents have been campaigning about the way the school consulted on the uniform since the consultation started in February and before governors actually made the decision to adopt the uniform. In a school of around 1400 11-16 year, 172 parents voted for the uniform.
The children protested about the uniform 2 weeks ago in July - so there have been plenty of attempts at representations to the school in between. This includes requests by town councillors and Transition Town, who are in the learning partnership with the school, to the school to mediate - all refused.
Certainly, there is a cross-over between the children who protested and the parents who are unhappy about the consultation/uniform, but you don't do justice to the self-derminism of the children to suggest they were incited. Personally, I was very surprised that my children demonstrated. One of them will not need to wear the uniform because he is too old and the other initially voted for it.
I think what has really roused more children to demonstrate was the school's promise that the children would influence the design of the uniform. They made a great fanfare of this. Then the uniform they are being asked to wear is a totally 'uniform' design from some uniform company, looking remarkably like a neighbouring town's. They know when they have been sold a line. There's one thing worse than not listening children and that is pretending to.
If we are talking uniforms...what tipped me over the edge is the shoes - they are dictating black school shoes, no boots, no sandals. Seriously, Kevicc is a country school. Many kids travel on the bus, but lots cycle or walk through fields and mud to get there.
The children certainly might have been smarter to demonstrate outside school time and off school premises.
Do you feel the same about the many teenagers in London who bunked off school to demonstrate about tuition fees?
However, we ask the school merely to suspend the internal exclusions, not cancel them. Also it is worth noting, the letters I received about my sons punishments were not individually addressed to me, nor actually named either of my sons.
The letter says 'During the course of these events some students took the opportunity to engage in unacceptable behaviour....Whilst we understand that your son/daughter may not have been individually responsible for these events, by making the decision that they did [not to be in a lesson] they do have a collective responsibility.'

G Bamber's picture
Sun, 15/07/2012 - 09:19

I work in a school that recently came out of special measures. we changed the uniform to include a blazer and clip on tie as part of our drive to improve standards and pride. This went very well, largely because the students were in favour of a blazer.
More recently the Heateacher wanted to introduce a 'trouser only' uniform as a reaction to girls wearing very short skirts. The consultation process included staff, parents and students and showed only a narrow majority supported the plan, as a result we did not proceed with this but instead have introduced 2 styles of skirt there acceptable.
I would suggest that ensuring the principles behind the decision are clearly communicated is essential. That way, even if people disagree, they can at least understand why something is being done.

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 10:44

Perhaps, your schools was in special measures, your school had a problem with behaviour and children's pride in the school. This is not why Kevicc is Satisfactory. The children's behaviour, is good. They love their school. It's the teaching and learning and managment is 'satisfactory' .
The skirt issue is a classic and demonstrates how uniforms can and often do escalate the amount of time teachers spend dealing with dress codes.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 15/07/2012 - 12:08

Just out of interest Joanne, does Kevicc have any alumi who are good role models for students?

If Toby Youngs are what it produces does it not need to change? Or is he a one off who believe that the failure of the education system in producing him should be corrected not by him making changes in himself but by the entire education system changing to ensure that no people like him are ever produced again?

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 09:59

Kevicc has been around for 450 years, so there's quite a few alumni, including Charles Babbage, inventor of the Difference Engine, precursor to the computer.
I don't think Toby Young's experience in really relevant as he left nearly 30 years ago.

leonard james's picture
Sun, 15/07/2012 - 12:38

I would advise against using Ofsted as a reliable source on behaviour.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Sun, 15/07/2012 - 18:39

This article puts the schools side and is from the LEAs website...it can't all just be spin surely ?
example

"So we invited responses from over 6,500 people including current students and their families, staff, the parents of children in our feeder schools and the wider community.
“These responses were carefully scrutinised by the governors as part of their decision-making process.
“88 per cent of college staff supported uniform as did 85 per cent of the local community, 77 per cent of parents and staff in feeder schools, 56 per cent of current parents and 55 per cent of current students."


http://www.devonnewscentre.info/education/support-for-return-of-uniform-...

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 15/07/2012 - 18:56

Were the 55/55% in favour those who were promised that the students would be able to design the uniform instead of having it imposed? and when that promise wasn't kept they felt they wouldn't have voted that way?

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 10:33

The stats are not from the 6500 who were consulted, but out of the number who responded. Hence 172 or so current parents responded in favour of the uniform, but there is a cohort I would say of around 1000 parents. Similarly, by no means all children in the school responded, so though 55% positively voted for it, it leaves a large majority who didn't or weren't bothered. It's this lack of positive buy-in from the parents and children who are in the school right now, rather than those who may or may never be parents and children at the school at some point in the future, that is probably at the heart of the issue. We are the ones who chose the school because of or despite of the fact it had no uniform and are now being asked to accept the uniform for marketing reasons.
Kevicc has certainly had a go at spin, hiring a Pr person over the issue, but she has resigned. Interestingly although this release is from (Conservative) Devon County Council, the Council has been encouraging mediation and has provided a mediator. All the children were promised that the students would be involved in designing the uniform and a lot of them were. As I understand it from the children, their designs are not reflected in the end result.

Guest's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 11:06

The school has the full right to proceed with uniform in the face of parental apathy.
With only 14% of parents actively against school uniform you should be accepting the decision with good grace not petulantly undermining the school and head.

Stop bitching,start backing ! ( it's called tough love)

Guest's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 11:23

To be fair I think the LEA article gives other valid reasons for school uniform other than marketing ; (my support of school uniform is solely for egalitarianism not behavioural or branding).
YOU say Kevicc has had a go at spin...well in all honesty , given the failure of the anti-uniform parents to admit they lost the original consultation vote, then I'd say they aren't doing too badly in the spin department themselves.

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 11:52

I could, but don't particularly want to rehearse the arguments for and against school uniforms. There are tediously many points on both sides. Personally, I don't like them. Do you wear a uniform in your work? I don't and I don't see why my children should wear one.
Personally, I accepted the decision to wear a uniform with good grace. I've got more involved because of the treatment of my sons and a large number of other children. This is why the school governors have now received many formal complaints including from parents who were in favour of uniform.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 11:02

The non-unifrom policy has been in place since 2003 so 9 years

172 or 55% of parents voted for the school uniform so total votes cast were 313 ?

(I think we can pretty safely assume that this parental "for" vote wasn't strongly requiring their child's sartorial input..they just wanted an affordable uniform) ...

If we assume other votes were against then 45% so 140 votes against the uniform. BY this country's democratic standards the anti-uniform vote was clearly lost .

So out of 1000 potential parents the vote against uniform was 14% ? .

The newspaper says a later protest meeting after the walkout when parental feelings would have been roused by their children's internal exclusions attracted 70 people or that would be 7% of parents (or assuming 2 parent families and one representative per family it can be raised to 14% of families) .

The uniform does not have a tie and blazers are optonal : I'd say those are concessions that 1000's of other school children all over the country would wholeheartedly embrace.

The report also says the uniform was developed by the school council who would presumably have taken feedback from their peers but been unable to incorporate every persons design vision into an affordable uniform ? Are you saying that the final school council uniform design was rejected ?

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 11:57

It's a lazy assumption to assume that the children who were were involved in uniform design wanted a less formal one. They wanted a more formal one. That's why it is important to listen to children. The one they got is black and er uniform. A couple of items are also available from only one supplier via school and are more expensive than they otherwise would be. This is against recommendations from the Office of Fair Trading.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 13:42

So was the uniform the School Council selected rejected?

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 13:45

Are these the shirt and jumper ? How does the price of these compare to non-unifrom shirts/jumpers bought for school. e.g my lads birthday hoodie was £40...his school jumper with embroidered logo was £17 and , unlike his hoddiem hasn't been nicked yet .

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 13:49

So the kids want more formal such as ties and blazers.....will this issue arise in mediation ? ...I imagine the head would have preferred more formality as well but felt a more relaxed slow introduction of uniform would be a crowd pleaser and keep costs down.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 12:05

Disputes like this used to be commonplace in communities where parents cared passionately about their schools. They were used as models for democracy in society so that students could learn about what it's like to be part of a contentious situation and how different strong points of view are negotiated and resolved.

People were much calmer about their being tensions and problems in the short term as exploring these tensions generally led to better solutions in the long term and, as I said before, the experience is a learning opportunity for children.

But these days any school which experiences the kind of disruption Kevicc has experienced becomes an obvious candidate for being put into special measures and Joanne you may think there has been poor management here and there may well have been but you are comparing the introduction of uniform with the deliberate and obviously unnecessary destruction of the health and careers of many of the best staff at the school.

The world has changed. Schools are a model for our society and society has changed too.

The best thing you can do here is to harness the energy and frustration you feel and use it to engage with the processes of democracy in your area beyond your school. If you're not already a member of a political party please consider what you can do to support the councillors in your area who are doing a good job. If they're not doing a good job please consider standing yourself. Our systems of democracy are undernourished from the roots up.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/06/british-democracy-decline-repor...

Joanne Tisdall's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 12:42

Thanks Rebecca. To be clear. It is parents and Ofsted that think the management is 'safisfactory'. I'm not comparing the introduction of uniform with the destruction of the careers of the best staff at the school. I am concerned about the treatment of the children. I was a vice-chair of governors at an Outstanding primary school in Camden and I know what good management and good schools look like. I have also in the past developed CPD materials for teachers and indeed for Ofsted inspectors, so I am not an inenue when it comes to education.
I am also a member of the Labour party. Totnes councillor on Devon County Council is Labour (she just switched from the Greens). She is also a parent at Kevicc and has urged them to mediation. The chair of Totnes Labour party is Carol Whitty. She is a former head and of the one of the Governors of Kevicc that voted for the uniform (this is all in the public domain). This is the reality of small town life, particularly in a town that is very actively engaged in societal debate.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 12:53

I'm with Leonard James on Ofsted.

I also live in a small town and know exactly what you mean.

Viva society :-)

Guest's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 13:33

Has any progress been made on mediation... Is it the parents refusing because the school won't obey their pre-condition to suspend the remaining measures against the children involved in the school-time disruption ? Surely mediation can go ahead of bnoth parties agree that the pre-conditon was unreasonable ?

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 14:08

It's like something out of a comic novel.

Left-leaning family quits gritty Camden for new life in hippy dippy Devon. But before you can say Ralph Miliband, their urban ways are in conflict with rural mores. Soon school is in uproar, kids are marching through the streets, the Plod get involved and politicians call for mediation.

Just when you thought it was all a bit stereotypical, it emerges that counter-intuitively the kids are demanding more formal and conservative uniforms than their late baby-boomer parents want.

Are we sure Richard Littlejohn didn't make it up? Kevicc, indeed.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 15:26

Ricky small towns are like this. It's called society. People have arguments about the things which matter to them. It's nothing to do with politics. It used to be like this in most places. Here in Cockermouth we spent 10 years fighting about where to site our first supermarket and ended up with a very high quality decision which would never have been possible had the decision not been extensively fought over. Friction is part of life and I enjoy it because it means people care.

You seem to think that the children chose the dull uniform but Joanne says they chose something else. Could you give a link to your source of information?

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 15:47

Rebecca

My source is Joanne.

It’s a lazy assumption to assume that the children who were were involved in uniform design wanted a less formal one. They wanted a more formal one. That’s why it is important to listen to children.

16/07/12 at 11:57 am

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 18:25

:-)

Anyway it's all pointless really - the posters here are right.

It's just not the done to protest any more.

It needs to be stamped for the same reasons protests disappeared during the Chinese cultural revolution or in Nazi Germany - because if it isn't the punishing forces will descend and the consequences will be far, far worse than any of the injustices here.

People who aren't dealing on a day-to-day basis with brilliant staff who are being broken and discredited and having their health and careers destroyed may think I'm overstating the issue. I'm sure there are plenty who know I'm describing it just as it is. It's the stage where you give even remotely trying to talk about reality and learn that you say whatever it takes to persuade those in authority that you are not a threat that really destroys your soul.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Fri, 20/07/2012 - 19:44

I support fair protest ....but after research via the campaign facebook pages , Ofsted etc. there's an awful lot of spin and distortion in the Kevicc issue and it's not by the school.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 15:08

With you in spirit Ricky but I don't think you can blame Joanne for the original parents who decided "it wasn't fair" when they found their minority opinion at odds with the views of teachers, governors, feeder school heads and the community not to mention the children themselves.

These parents have encouraged dissent amongst the children and got them into serious trouble in order to pursue their minority agenda and get previously neutral parents to join them. They distort fact and won't accept rational fair debate and they place unreasonable pre-conditions to mediation so they can claim the school won't "mediate" .

They are prepared to sacrifice the school to achieve their end. Joanne said she only got involved after her kids got into .....

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 18/07/2012 - 19:33

Fair & true enough. Not Joanne's fault. And I think you've got the real culprits bang to rights.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 15:08

trouble .

Anonymous's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 23:40

Leaving kevicc last year I believe it would be better with uniform, but not at the moment. The main point of uniform is so you feel like you represent something and that you are proud to be part of it.
I believe that before uniform can be introduced 'houses' should be brought back, giving a far more sense of competitively and togetherness within in the school.
Then uniform should be of a better quality than it is proposed, with blazer and tie, and customized to represent the students house. Also keeping the same logo which is far more professional and smart

Andy's picture
Thu, 19/07/2012 - 18:23

Fair suggestion Anonymous. That said, I would suggest that to denote any house system that be considered/adopted the customisation be either in the form of a tie or badge. Anything more elaborate tends to be expensive for parents and doubly so if a pupil has to be move between school houses for whatever reason.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Fri, 20/07/2012 - 19:38

Off on a tangent to Ofsted reports for KEVICC; the original posts said

"And, with a trusted and charismatic head, it was also deemed a successful one in the last few years. However, when the long-standing head retired, the role was taken by a deputy, who many would argue has failed to maintain the former vision for the school or effect a new one.
It has also had 2 ‘satisfactory’ Ofsteds on the run, the latest criticising the leadership and inconsistent teaching, but significantly not the behaviour of the children."

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provi...

What the post doesn't clarify is that the penultimate Ofsted Report in May 2009 was under the soon to retire "charismatic" Stephen Jones and the school was judged satisfactory, but needed to push academic standards and monitoring more.

The last Ofsted Report Dec 2011 , the first under the new head , judged the school still as satisfactory but acknowledged that the school was improving and praised the senior management team for the changes implemented by the new head. They were downgraded to a satisfactory for capacity to improve simply because the monitoring systems were being implementd by the SMT and were not yet entrenched in middle leadership. In general the last Ofsted report was positive and singled out that behaviour and the sixth form had significantly improved.They praised the introduction of a school council.


Sooo the implication that the school has deteriorated in Ofsted's eyes under the new head is quite simply not true.

Emma Bishton's picture
Sat, 21/07/2012 - 14:45

Joanne this all sounds thoroughly demoralising and distracting for everyone involved.

There seem to me to be two issues here: one is whether parents feel part of the school community and the other is an incipient sense of panic about whether the school is 'delivering'. That the current Ofsted regime requires schools to demonstrate improvement in a way which often seems to bear no witness to the culture of a school nor maintains the focus on provision of a well-rounded education for pupils, is not Kevicc's fault. But the panic that ensues is Kevicc's to manage effectively; in the circumstances what is needed is a collective sense of purpose, yet this is made all the harder now by the fact that a significant group of parents appear not to feel part of the school community. It seems to me that the difficulties with the uniform consultation (and which side 'owns' the view of the non-voting silent majority) are a symptom, not the cause of the problem.

I'm interested that at the end of your post you say 'we could attempt a free school' (though relieved that that appears unlikely, in your case at least!). Please don't. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that the free school process has now become a mechanism for removing the state from education, what free schools were supposed to embody was the opportunity for localism (not that this isn't available in existing systems, but that's another matter). Localism should be a good thing - it should enable us to reflect local circumstances in providing services, and to adapt those services to the needs, culture and circumstances of that community. Yet in practice, in education, free schools simply give an opportunity to champion the views of the minority, reduce the opportunity for debate within communities and the need to all get around the table, and legitimise the views of those who would otherwise have to compromise. That isn't localism, it's avoiding the idea of community altogether.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Sat, 21/07/2012 - 15:41

The last two Ofsted report reports celebrate and commend a) the creativity and artisitc culture of the Kevicc education and the maturity and cultural/society awareness of the pupils. The treatment of Special Needs pupils is also commended.

It is more than likely that the deputy head was appointed to the headship by the governors precisely because she understood and respected the unique ethos of the school and I imagine this was with the previous head's blessing.

That said Ofsted have twice now, one under each head, highlighted the need for more robust monitoring and strengthening of the teaching particularly in the academic subjects .
The new head has introduced monitoring in her first year but is clearly reluctant to overload middle management so early with what must be still a trial system....Ofsted mark the school down for that i.e for the head supporting teachers.

Dave's picture
Sat, 21/07/2012 - 15:42

"that a significant group of parents appear not to feel part of the school community." I would correct that to

"a small number of parents appear to think they own the school and have the right to overturn a fair consultation and vote purely because they disagree with it".

Andy's picture
Sat, 21/07/2012 - 18:53

A review the data available for 2010 and 2011 results indicate a school that has been coasting, with its middle and low attaining pupils underperforming.

2010 Performance:

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/archive/school_1...

2011 Performance:

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/archive/school_1...

2011
Numbers of pupils in KS4 making expected progress in Eng and Maths both fell
5 x A* - C (with E&M) dropped by 8% to figures below even 2009 and 2008
5 x A*-C (without both E&M) figure went up by 3% but nevertheless was only 78%
5 x A* - G figure remained the same (a 1% increase is marginal)
The attendance figures are tilting into concern re dipping below national averages but marginally avoiding the persistent absence category

Yes, governors may well have opted for what they considered to be a known safe pair of hands conversant with the established ethos and value base of the school but the data above indicates a level of complacency that needed challenging. But it is possible to maintain the ethos and values as well driving for optimal performance by all pupils (i.e. attaining or exceeding their estimated targets/achieving Jesson progression).

To do this the headteacher invariably needs the support of the governing body, senior and middle leadership group and followership of colleagues. However, and looking at the overall level of coasting there are also indications that some colleagues have not been putting their shoulder to the task to the extent that they could have e.g. overall 5 A*-C rate indicates underperformance outside Eng and Maths and the Maths progress/attainment is holding back the 5 A*-C E&M attainment (e.g. Maths is 11% behind Eng and it is the middle and low attainers who are not performing). Within this scenario – being call to account, being made responsible for their performance and results - there will be colleagues who will resist and quietly stir the pot and most certainly take advantage of the unrest to further undermine the headteacher’s efforts to drive the necessary changes and improvement.

The issue over uniform is mystifying to me when set against what appears to be a desire rooted amongst the student body. Parental involvement in the school is important and must be taken seriously but this should be seen through the lens of influence not dictating what happens. Against the backdrop of moving from non-uniform to uniform this influence raises its profile and because of the financial cost to parents their voice carried real weight.

However, parents cannot and must not incite pupils to take negative actions in school, whether this be the refusal to attend sanctions or, and least of all, to strike. In this regard parents make their actions irresponsibly and wholly unacceptable. Indeed, any adult inciting a juvenile to break the law leaves themselves open to prosecution.

Irrespective of the real players behind the scenes pulling strings and orchestrating things one way or the other this school and its pupils need support not chaos. Failure to provide this support will invariably lead to the school slipping into special measures, which in the short term will not help pupils or parents.

So for goodness it is time for the parents to put a stop to what should have been a modest something about nothing and put the pupils their education and future prospects to the forefront.

leonard james's picture
Mon, 23/07/2012 - 06:56

It is often unclear what you are comparing this school against here and where you are a bit clearer your analysis lacks context. What was the 2010/11 year group like compared to the last? Is the intake of this school average to begin with?

Andy's picture
Mon, 23/07/2012 - 09:40

Leonard, I compared the 2010 and 2011 data available in the public domain: see the embedded links. Unless stated the figures are year by year comparisons of the schools performance. Official estimated targets for pupils will be based on their KS2 results (although this is only pertinent to the core subjects).

If you want to review the CVA focus from 2008 to 2010 feel free to go to the DFE site and interrogate the data: broadly speaking under FFT CVA measures the school has performed to or slightly above par (i.e. 1000). Under the straight VA the school is at 990, which is below par.


2011 201020092008
5 A*-C (E&M) 51% 59%53%53%
5 A*-C 78% 75%69%66%
Expected Prog Eng71% 77%71%Unavailable
Expected Prog Maths60% 64%60%Unavailable
Pupils included KS2-494% 91%94%93%
Absence 6.78% (1) 7.5%7.2%8.8%
Persistence AbsenceSee Note 2 4.8%4.9%8.2%
Persistence AbsenceSee Note 3Not available

Notes:

1.National average (NA) = 6.52%
2.PA at 15% + = 8.9% (NA 9.95%)
3.PA at 20% + = 4.4% (NA 4.70%)


The table over highlights that Maths is holding the headline E&M figures back and has been since at least 2009.

Between 2008 and 2011the number of pupils excluded from the KS2 – 4 data fluctuates from 9-6%

Pupil absence data indicates that the school is borderline set against the national average but has improved from the 2008 data

A close reading of the 2011 performance tables give clear indication that while the high attainers are performing well it is the middle and low attainers who are under performing. The low attainer situation is underscored at the narrowing the gap table.

All of this combines to create a picture of a coasting school, which if the middle and low attainers received closer attention the overall stats would rise quite markedly, whereas in 2011 only 41% of the middle attainer achieve 5 A*-C with E&M or equivalent. Aside from that there is ample evidence (over time) that Maths requires attention.

When all is said and done the heart of this thread is one of all parties acting responsibly - particularly the adults - over the uniform issue, and it is clear that some have not done so. Instead they have encouraged their children to walk out of lessons and set off fire alarms causing major disruption to learning and potentially negatively impacting on the response of the emergency services that can ill afford the disruption and inconvenience of false alarms. The latter has the manifest potential to put others at genuine risk if services are attending a false alarm.

The stats underscore Ofsteds judgements and should be used to support the headteacher in the goal of driving improvements in pupil perforamnce.

Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.