How many layers does an education system need?

Rob Davies's picture
Carter Community School in Poole is a fantastic secondary school that is now battling for survival.

I have been Headteacher at Carter for 15 months now and I am delighted with the progress we have made during this time. The school has successfully bid to become a Specialist Arts School focussing initially on Art, Dance and Drama; funding has been secured for a new artificial sports pitch; students have been given tremendous enrichment opportunities including 10 days in China thanks to British Council funding and an ambitious sponsorship drive. And yet Carter is facing a period of difficulty because of falling roles and parental mis-conceptions.

In September 2010 the pupil population stood at 320 agains a nominal maximum role of 480. Less than half of parents in the school's catchment choose to send their children to Carter. The reasons are not complex, but they are hard to overcome.

Poole is a selective authority with only 8 secondary schools. There are 2 single sex grammars, 3 large (foundation) comprehensives, a Faith School, an Academy from a school in challenging circumstances and Carter. For parents, the aspiration structure is as clear as it has been written... with Carter at the bottom - which is a complete misrepresentation.

Add into this mix the fact that at least one of Poole's schools is going to become an Academy out of an outstanding school. I keep my fingers crossed that no one plans a free school anywhere near here.

Every child deserves the right to go to a good school that allows them to develop the necessary skills, knowledge and experience that will equip them for their lives ahead. The only way to achieve that is to give all schools the same chance to succeed... A school should be the heart of its community where parents are encouraged to work with the team rather than walk past the gate.
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