No More Fear....

Sarah Dobbs's picture
We have just returned from our summer holiday. It gave me very much needed relaxing and thinking time to evaluate the campaign.

On one of our day trips we took our four children to a fun fair. We have a very gutsy five year old, who goes on rides that I would never dream of going on! Knowing how brave she has been for so long, we decided that she would enjoy a water chute with her dad and big sisters. But half way round she got scared. By the final big drop she was clinging to her dad out of sheer terror.

When she came off, that fear made her highly irrational. Rides that she had previously enjoyed she no longer wanted to go back on. She
gave me and her dad hell in the way only a feisty five year old can! For a while, all of the joy of the experience was lost for all of us.

Humans never can and never will be at their best when acting out of fear.

Which is why I am so concerned about the situation in the entire county of Lincolnshire at the moment. In the last few months the following things have happened in the course of our campaign;

a) Headteachers with great integrity feeling that the only way to protect local education from central government policy is to merge their schools into one organisation, despite expressing that this
would not be their preference without the outside political interference.

b) Teachers using pseudonyms online when all they are doing is engaging in democratic debate for fear of getting into trouble at work.

c) Teachers and teaching assistants apologising to me for not joining the SOS campaign more actively because they fear for their job security.

d) Governors telling me that they feel manipulated into making pro-academy decisions. This does not just relate to the Louth schools.

h) Governors telling me that they have been given a harsh ticking off for discussing issues with each other outside of governors meetings.

i) The Lincoln diocese putting forward plans for an academies trust, when they do not support the policy and think that schools should remain in the local authority family.

j) Tory and Lib Dem councillors voting for all schools in Lincolnshire to become academies, whilst at the same time voicing genuine concerns
about the policy in the debate.

At the moment, those concerned with teaching in Lincolnshire are scurrying round trying to find what they think will be the "least bad" option. Well, it is wake up time. "Least bad" can never equate to

I teach both my own kids and those I teach that a bully is someone who tries to make you do something by making you feel scared.

Michael Gove, that applies to you. You are a clever, manipulative man and you are trying to impose your own will be generating insecurity and fear in those who you are meant to lead and nurture.

What do we tell kids to do when they think they are being bullied? Stand up for yourself, and go and tell a grown up! That is exactly what the teaching profession should be doing right now in
Lincolnshire. We should be standing tall and brave and talking to each other to find a way forward. Not running round in panic assuming that the powers that be simple must have their way with us.

Wherever you live, please sign the following petition if you think that it is important that Lincolnshire County Council protects the
education system in Lincolnshire from privatisation.

No more decisions based on rumour, fears and manipulation.

Our kids deserve so much more.

Many thanks.
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Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 17/08/2011 - 12:25

I have written to my (Conservative) MP regarding the must-quoted boast about the number of schools who have converted. I said this was not something the Government should be crowing about but something of which it should be ashamed. Governing bodies are motivated by money or fear, or both.

And it's not just in education policy that people are being bullied. The Localism Bill has been described by a Tory Peer as meaning that local authorities can do what they want as long as the Secretary of State approves. Even before this Bill is passed, Eric Pickles has over-ridden the wishes of villagers near King's Cliffe in Northamptonshire by allowing a waste-disposal firm to dump low-grade nuclear waste near the village. This was despite a local petition showing over 90% of respondents were against it. The draft National Planning Policy Framework was described by Griff Rhys Jones in The Times (13 August) as a method by which developers could "slash, burn and rampage through current planning laws". We are already seeing this in South Lincolnshire: South Kesteven District Council is dictating how Stamford should develop, and councillors in Market Deeping had a meeting with planning officers behind closed doors.

The MP for Grantham and Stamford, Nick Boles, was quoted at the end of last year saying that the "chaos" which would ensue from tearing up planning laws was a good thing. Chaos is a word that can describe this Government's policies on so many fronts.

Alan's picture
Wed, 17/08/2011 - 14:05

Sarah – I have signed your petition because I believe the council have a moral obligation to hold a public consultation, to include children and families. However, a campaign that purports to include Mablethorpe and the surrounding area should include all factors responsible for widening the attainment gap.

Fear can work in two ways, it can focus one’s efforts or it can cause sudden retreat. It shouldn’t stand in the way of campaigning for public debate to include admissions. Academies will become their own admissions authorities, therefore, effective scrutiny should prevent covert selection and segregation – you need to highlight this point.
LCC, CfBT and campaigners against academies are avoiding issues on selective education because they cannot, or will not, differentiate selection by 11-plus from grammar schools. Schools of excellence should be available to all children. Grammar schools represent our county’s ‘success’ in league tables. What about the 50 per cent of rejected children? Councillors won’t tackle selection because they bear false allegiance to their education, as do many parent teachers.

In Mablethorpe, opportunities begin to diminish at 10. Rejection by 11-plus acts as a bottleneck to attainment. For example, in 2010 there were only 127 places available in our designated FE college, the grammar school and only 20 places (approx) were allocated to students from other schools.

To reiterate, arguments against academies should provide a Mablethorpe solution for post 16 academic provision for all students.

Sarah Dobbs's picture
Thu, 18/08/2011 - 07:40

I do agree Alan. Selection is an factor that distorts the education of all children in Lincolnshire. However, the academies issue should now be the burning concern. Remember that as schools convert to academy status, all most of the levers that the public can use to change policy are lost. Schools are no longer accountable through elected local politicians or by elected governors. CFBT are publicly saying that they will keep selection at 11.
If we ever want to change anything in the future, it has to start by keeping the local authority. How can we influence for the future if we let our locally elected politicians give up their democratic mandate for education?

Alan's picture
Thu, 18/08/2011 - 10:56

Sarah, you are right to request a consultation, and if you succeed I would like to attend. However, I have lived in the Louth area all of my life and this is why I haven’t joined a political party. Nothing has changed in decades, children are still being neglected by education.

CfBT would have us believe that all gifted children from less well-off families in the Mablethorpe area have been selected into grammar schools irrespective of 11+ performance, that those below the national average are where they need to be. The selective buck is being passed to poverty and parenting via CVA to cover OECD statistics on social immobility.

In Mablethorpe democracy for my children is non-existent. There are no scholarships to academic sixth form, no Youth Parliament participation and no away days to Oxbridge to raise aspirations. That is why, in our area, issues exceed academies.

Sarah Dobbs's picture
Thu, 18/08/2011 - 12:01

I am not saying they don't. I am just saying that if you want to have any hope of infuencing the future, opposing academies is the place you need to be at the moment. The consultation, if it happens, must be in every region of the county.

chris's picture
Sat, 20/08/2011 - 10:44

I am not saying they don’t. I am just saying that if you want to have any hope of infuencing the future, opposing academies is the place you need to be at the moment.

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