Michelle Obama meets pupils from a great local school

Fiona Millar's picture
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson is a great local school which serves a very mixed community in Islington, North London. It was great to see that Michelle Obama went out of her way in a very busy State visit, to meet up with the girls from this vibrant, aspirational school for the second time . She met them first in 2009 at the school, has stayed in touch and yesterday met the girls when they were visiting Oxford University. EGA shows what can be done within the local authority maintained sector. The school was judged "outstanding" in its last Ofsted inspection because its students, who come from very diverse background ( nine out of ten from minority ethnic families, over 50% eligible for free school meals) make excellent progress. Parents say it has transformed the lives of their daughters and the leadership of the Head, Jo Dibb, was judged 'remarkable'. Given all the negative coverage we receive about our state schools, we should be thanking Mrs Obama for drawing attention to so much that is good in our education system. What a shame it took a visiting foreign dignitary to do this.
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Melissa Benn's picture
Fri, 27/05/2011 - 07:13

Yes, I was very glad to see that Michelle O followed up her earlier visit with the girls from EGA. In general, this government acts as if most local authority comprehensives don't exist or don't count - unless they are voluntary aided church schools. Certainly, they relentlessly promote academies and free schools on their website and in their general approach. Estelle Morris, former education secretary, pointed this out in a recent Guardian article. They never miss a chance to get their point across. Take that giant Globe Academy banner placed right next to the table tennis game played by Obama and Cameron.

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Wed, 14/09/2011 - 19:03

Fiona, The reason why Comprehensive schools have lots of negative coverage that is because there are lots of things negative about them. Something, you are shockingly in denial about.
You have left me no choice but to comment.
Are you serious?
You think EGA is an "outstanding" school? what because Ofstead says so?
Look at the GCSE results of that school of the students that DON'T get 5 decent passes including maths & English.
Then tell me this is an "outstanding" school.
Most good teachers I have encountered think Ofstead is a joke & should be scrapped due its Stalinist nature & inefficiency.
Unlike you I am a former pupil of this School and although the Comprehensive I transferred to during the following year after my studies there was much worse (although nearer to where I live). By no means would I call this school "outstanding". Average at best and thats being nice since it probably improved since my days (with lots and lots of tax payer’s money no doubt). I did miss friends there who were good people & teaching was better compared to my following school. But the gang nature of that school did make me think perhaps I had made a lucky break especially since one older girl a gang consistently began picking on me for no reason.
EGA was (probably still is) full of mono-ethnic girl gangs & it was not "mixed" but mostly Black, Bangladeshi & Turkish/Kurdish with few representations of people from other communities. Outside of class it was like a ghetto.
Despite there being lots of expensive equipment which hadn’t reached other schools yet.That is not "mixed". I mixed with various students but I did notice I sense of tribalism that bordered on segregation, there were hordes of girl gangs there who unfortunately segregated themselves to race. This was a sad thing.
If a school was full of only English,Welsh,Scottish and Irish students I seriously doubt you would call that "mixed". Infact I'm pretty sure you would be complaining due to this social engineering your faction has an obsession with rather than high education standards and would be demanding more ethnic students be imported there.
That is not "mixed" but segregated when there is a small representation of other communities. I say this as an ethnic minority myself whose first language is English & I felt out of place in that school.
Mixed ability teaching method didn’t help either. A friend of mine who recently moved to the country then was in tears because she found the level of work since English was not her native language (and she was still learning it), too hard for her & felt embarrassed when asked to read aloud. She received little help from the school, looking back on it now I can’t imagine how lonely & out of place she must of felt.
That is one of the problems with mixed ability teaching. A key reality of Mixed-ability teaching the romanticists of it don’t like to face.
Majority of the students there weren’t even from the Local area since majority of the Local people there did not want to send their children to local Islington comps (a bit like your friend Tony Blair).
I can hardly say the school helped matters of social-cohesion by stating that Turkish/Kurdish & Bangladeshi students should study in oppose to French like the rest of us in the early years but instead Turkish or Bengali. Despite the fact the majority of those students were born in the U.K. How is that promoting Social Cohesion or integration? It was sad because I had made a lot of friends Bangladeshi friends & did miss them during French classes. That indeed didn’t send out the right message in promoting “equality”.
Btw if a school has 50% of students FSM that is not something to brag about alone, it only means there are lots of really poor students there.
Which is a meaningless fact if the academic standards of the school is not truly “outstanding” on the level of a high achieving faith, selective, or private schools. A school should be judged on its academic merits & learning ethos not how many students are on FSM or are from “ethnic minority families”. I find that utterly patronizing.

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