Local Comprehensive Schools Are Still Britain's Best Hope For A Well -Educated Population

Chris Dunne's picture
I am Headteacher of Langdon Park School, a Community secondary school in Tower Hamlets, London. I have worked in Comprehensive schools throughout my life.I believe that, properly funded and effectively led, they provide the best hope that this country will survive economically in a world where it is becoming increasingly essential that every citizen is educated to a high standard.

In my school some 70% of students are on free school meals. In 2010 100% of Year 11 students attained 5+A*-G, 99% including English and Maths; 47% attained 5+A*-C including E&M. The attainment gap for students on free school meals nationally was 27.5%; at my school it was 1.2%! This outcome was the result of the hard work of a fantastically dedicated staff, coupled with funding levels over the past decade which have provided the means to overcome many of the obstacles which such students face in their lives.

I believe in educational provision as a public right and a public duty. I oppose the disposal of public assets to the governors of Academies, most of which then sub-contract to the private sector. Empirical evidence suggests very strongly that most Academies are not fully inclusive. It suggests very clearly that , so far, the vast majority of approved Free Schools will be highly selective.

P.S. I taught Ed Miliband A Level English. I also showed him how to access the live phone-in on LBC radio!
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Adrian Elliott's picture
Mon, 13/06/2011 - 14:35

Chris, as you have been too modest to do so, I post the opening lines of your latest Ofsted report .

''This is a good school. Many aspects of its work are outstanding. Good progress has been made since the last inspection because remarkable leadership has embedded high expectations of what students can achieve. There is a strong focus on raising students' achievement and developing them personally through enhancing confidence and self-esteem. Students make good progress, and sometimes outstanding progress, throughout the school so that, by the end of Year 11, their attainment in English and mathematics is broadly average. School leaders have been successful in creating a culture where academic learning and students' personal development are valued equally. This results in good achievement and outstanding spiritual, social, moral and cultural development. As one parent commented, 'My child has been able to achieve lots at Langdon Park and has made friends for life. He feels safe and really enjoys school.' ''.

The report also describes your leadership as 'inspirational' . What a pity such schools are so little recognised either by the media or so many politicians.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Mon, 13/06/2011 - 15:56

Thanks for Chris, I visited your school a few years ago and it seemed great. Your commitment to an inclusive education is so important. Well done on the great things that you and your staff have achieved in the school.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 14/06/2011 - 07:22

Chris's schools is an example of an excellent community school - and there are thousands of them although if you look at the DfE website you would think such schools did not exist. According to the DfE, It's only academies and free schools who can deliver excellence.

A feature in last week's TES magazine would seem to back up the DfE's view. It featured a "turnaround" Liverpool school, now an academy. However, if you read the article (and I recommend it) it gives the reasons for its success:

"While the label of 'academy' is evocative, this is a community school run by Kay [Askew, the academy head] and her team."

The key to this school's success was not the much-trumpeted "advantages" of academy status: autonomy, budget and freedom for LA control but an "intensely personalised curriculum" and behaviour management - the type of things that schools don't need academy status to achieve, the type of things that are found in good community schools.


Helen Flynn's picture
Fri, 01/07/2011 - 17:35

Thanks for this, which I have only just located and read. If your school was an academy, I'm sure it would be one of the much touted, favoured few academies that continue to dominate the affections of the Government.
I am at work within the Lib Dems, hoping to shine the light back onto effective comprehensive education, locally delivered. I believe that to be: the best, most accountable and most efficient use of public resources; the system most likely to promote equality of opportunity which should be very child's right and should give every child the chance to achieve their potential ; and the only system which can promote respect, tolerance and understanding for other people and their capabilities, circumstances and beliefs.
We are not there yet in formulating the counter position to what is happening at the moment with Gove, Gibb, et al, but it is a work in progress, and there are many grass roots Lib Dem supporters absolutely appalled at what is happening currently.
It's a case of "watch this space"!

Tracy McDonald's picture
Mon, 25/03/2013 - 11:46

I was extremely fortunate to be taught by Chris Dunne for 7 years when he was an English Teacher in the borough of Greenwich. I read with absolute belief in what he has achieved as a Headteacher. He had an exceptional quality of making pupils believe in themselves. I came from a background where further education was alien, I not only went on to further education but have been teaching for 30 years.

I have always wanted to provide the best opportunities for my pupils, a desire to learn and to develop qualities for life.
Sadly I am beginning to see the Academy take over being solely driven by academic progress, at all cost. Pressure not only on the pupils but staff too, regardless of the child's well being and emotional progress. the right frame of mind is vital to reducing anxieties and the ability to be in a good place to learn. Its not all about the shiny ICT suite.

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