Out of London

Davis Lewis's picture
The majority of schools mentioned here are based in London so I am broadening the ambit.
St Thomas More Upper is an excellent inclusive multi-cultural school in Bedford. I have visited it on more than a few occasions and its a great school.
It has a comprehensive intake and does very well on a series of measures
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Nigel Ford's picture
Tue, 13/09/2011 - 18:49

Nice one David.

My two first cousins used to live in nearby Biddenham and attended Bedford school. One of them has married a teacher who practises her profession in a comprehensive school in W Sussex. Hopefully the kids will take a leaf from her book.

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Wed, 14/09/2011 - 19:15

So what is so important about a school being multi-cultural? I don't get what is the obession with social engineering in oppose to assessing instead a school's Academic merits? What truly matters if a school is inclusive & excellent is that it is a place where learning is valued has strong discipline and high academic exceptions for it's students. Most inner-city comprehensives don't & alot around the country. Sadly this is a fact.
We should be focused more on teaching children how to read,write & do math. Right now that is a real problem.
More important a should recognizes interms of ability students are NOT equal (even the private & grammars recognize this) in terms of their weaknesses & strengths in certain subjects but still serves a high degree of education.
How on earth is multiculturalism relevant a testament to "inclusiveness" or high academic achievement?
as an Immigrant but British national through myself naturalized parents I would think integration of all people working together & achieving success in their studies would be doing that.

Davis Lewis's picture
Wed, 14/09/2011 - 21:15

Champagne! I do not who is obsessed with multi-culturalism, whatever that is. The school in question has done very well academically and has a very harmonious ethos about it. This is a high achieveing school and maybe I mentioned the multi-ethnic nature of the school to remind anyone who needed reminding that high achievement and multi-ethnicity are not mutually exclusive. The amount of space you have have given to something I gave a passing mention rings alarm bells.
You mention most inner city schools and a lot around the country do not value high achievement and value discipline - where is your evidence? Have you investigated most inner city schools and 'a lot of schools around the country'?
I will be honest and say that I suspect a politi cal undertone I reckon you are either an immigrant who is trying to be more English than the English' some immigrants are like this and this can sometimes be seen in them being the most vociferous anti-immigration.
The problem we have in academic standards in this country have little to do with 'multiculturalism whatever that is - is it an ideology?
Anyway, I like this school and I would be more than happy for my children to attend this school and that is always my bottom line.

Davis Lewis's picture
Wed, 14/09/2011 - 21:22

Just one other question in respect of this quote 'More important a should recognizes interms of ability students are NOT equal' I do not recall asserting that every one had equal ability. Who has said that all children have equal ability?
I am aware that students have a range of talents abilities and strengths. 'Fortunately' for grammar schools they do not have to engage with students who are at the 'lower' end of the academic ability spectrum.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 16/09/2011 - 08:56

David - the most recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, "Education at a Glance 2011" makes it clear that the best performing school systems in the world are those that are most inclusive ie where pupils are not segregated academically or geographically. And Finland, where the pupils gained the highest marks in the 2009 PISA tests, is such a system. Every Finnish teachers is expected to deal with any child of whatever ability s/he meets.

The latest OECD report is discussed here:


Davis Lewis's picture
Fri, 16/09/2011 - 09:26

It would be wonderful if we had a root and branch reform of our system and adopted the Finnish model. This would involve challenging some fundamental British values and institutions. For example the private school industry. We also have a group of people who will do whatever is necessary to avoid being among the unwashed and then we have a nother who feel the natural order is that those above should by right enjoy privilege. To adopt the Finnish model would also need to have the support of all major parties and them being able to see beyond the next election.
I have always beleived there is much we could learn from our Scandinavian neighbours.

Davis Lewis's picture
Wed, 14/09/2011 - 21:25

Cheers Nigel, I have children who go to school in Biddenham and they really enjoy it. I use to live in a town that was characterised by ethnic and religious sectarianism i.e. people did not socialise or mix outside of their own and this extended to school. I am happy to say that I do not see this in Bedford. The biggest divide among young people is state school vs private school but there is some socialising even across this dividing line.

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Thu, 15/09/2011 - 16:06

"You mention most inner city schools and a lot around the country do not value high achievement and value discipline – where is your evidence?"

Perhaps I should paraphrase meant *comprehensives. Ofcourse not the catchment
ones in the wealthy areas which the champagne socialist rich manage to get their kids into while preaching equality at their dinner parties.
I went to an inner city comp (EGA) for a short while since I couldn't get into the good comprehensive in my area due to catchment boundaries & the ones that were available were basically no hope ghettos. I even went to another that was worse although in the suburbs . I also live on a housing estate where I would say about 60-80% of the people send their children to Comprehensives. The ones that have, most of them I know where their future will be. Sad but true. The ones that stand better chances are the ones who use the Church as a safety valve. I regret not doing this myself. I went to a Catholic primary and the level of education I received there was higher than that of a comp (LOL that how bad they are to me).
The irony is the schools I went to weren't even the worse ones in the Captial. That is what frightens me, that there are children suffering worse than what I did when the level of teaching/discipline/standards at the school I attended was poor. I'm also dyslexic which is something that was never picked up there by the teachers until I went to College. So my anger against system is justified. It DOES fail the disadvantaged and poor I know this better then anyone else since I saw it with my own eyes and I experienced my self. The amount of talented & gifted people I saw go to waste was heartbreaking. Some of these people I did not even like.

We went through 5-6 head masters during the 5 years I was there at my last school. I left in 2007, in fairness the headteacher now is excellent (he came in my last year). He tried to inspire/push us when many teachers could not be bothered or were useless, he even came on saturdays to help us during our English GCSE. Criticized the English department for trying to make lower sets do foundation papers so they would get "easy C"s. They didn't like that. This wasn't popular with the staff there.
HOWEVER, this was at our last year, they finally get a decent headmaster for my year it was already too late & the amount of incompetent staff there along with disruptive kids had already done their damage. But I do believe it was appointing him as headteacher that made the real difference, which i am sure wasn't that expensive compared to refurbishment or re-branding.
So that's what I mean when I say "shiny buildings do not make a great school".
Also another problem I have with Comprehensive education is the Curriculum, which I know is mostly the government's fault but still is pretty pathetic.

There is no *political undertone, personally I hate both the Labour & Conservative party now. Yep, I am not politically correct nor multi-culturalism fan (i am an immigrant btw) find it patronizing which I have no problem openly saying. When it comes to education sometimes plain-speaking is needed.
I hate Labour more since I grew up during the Blair years in School which were a nightmare & Labour is largely responsible for this comprehensive failure abolishing selection by ability but now a defacto one by wealth exists. Ask yourself which is fairer?

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Thu, 15/09/2011 - 16:21

"I reckon you are either an immigrant who is trying to be more English than the English’ some immigrants are like this and this can sometimes be seen in them being the most vociferous anti-immigration."

lol thanks for that generalization. I am like any sane person anti-MASS immigration to ANY country ofcourse there should be selection by either a fixed cap or priorty of those who are skilled. that is common sense unless there is a population shortage of skilled people needed ASAP. That has nothing to do with this topic btw. My dislike here is the social engineering factor, i see as trend these days. School is for learning & preparing us for the wider world or work when we try to turn it into something else for other purposes we loose sight of that.

Well, I came to this country when I was young I speak no language better than English. However, I don't consider myself English instead British although I have dual nationality. I am not "anti-immigration", although you will find it's usually the poor (of all races) who are more so. Since they are often effected the worse. That is another debate. I don't like it when immigrants are scapegoated for fault of goverment in regards to jobs & housing though.
It's the education system that takes away chances now & makes employment harder now. This is why I urge competitiveness to enthrusted into ur schools. We are competing against the whole world in economic terms. it's best to learn that when we are young.

ChampagneSocialistNetwork's picture
Thu, 15/09/2011 - 16:42

"am aware that students have a range of talents abilities and strengths. ‘Fortunately’ for grammar schools they do not have to engage with students who are at the ‘lower’ end of the academic ability spectrum."

Then we need to be realistic and realize that although it's important such pupils are made numerate & literate until 14-15 afterwards we need to be realistic and realize that the academic route is not where their talents lie nor is it best suited for them, some just aren't interested. For some people this is just a coherent fact. It's only snobbery that thinks the Academic route is the best for everyone even if they are better at other skills or vocations.

But unfortunately since there are so few grammars & technical schools around now thanks to my comrades, I had to experience as did many of peers at school what these pupils can be like when lumped together and it wasn't a joy since many of these pupils were either disruptive or bullied people who actually showed an interest in learning.
Actually employers or top Universities don't in that regards. Do you think they should should abolish selection aswell?
Well. yes grammars do in their schools.since even in the *top public,faith & grammar schools with the best students. recognize that abilities are different & appitude however there is HIGH academic exception of everyone there. but one thing they don't do which is the norm of comprehensives that is lump everyone together then leave a large section of pupils to rot with this "one size fits all" nonsense.

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