I don't want informed consumers in education; I just want good schools

Dan Howells's picture
I am a 2007 Teach First Ambassador- that is to say I qualified as a teacher through the Teach First programme in 2007/08, and I work for the educational charity today in the West Midlands.

In 2011 I was elected as a City Councillor in my home City of Coventry.

In my roles as both a City Councillor and External Relations Officer for Teach First in the West Midlands my motivations remain the same: I want to live in a country where no child's educational success is limited by their socio-economic background.
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Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 14/06/2012 - 14:04

Dan - I noticed there is controversy in Coventry over the possible enforced academy conversion of Henley Green Primary School even though Ofsted (Feb 2011) found the school was satisfactory and improving, and Ofsted recognised that the low attainment at the end of key stage 2 was because of the "exceptionally low" starting point and the good progress in the early years followed by satisfactory progress couldn't wipe out this exceptional disadvantage. Can you give us an update on the situation?

Are there other schools in Coventry who have been earmarked for enforced coversion?


Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 14/06/2012 - 14:27

In 2011 I was elected as a City Councillor in my home City of Coventry

For the Labour Party, I assume. Interesting that it's thought unnecessary to spell that out....

Allan Beavis's picture
Thu, 14/06/2012 - 16:29

Why do you assume for the Labour Party??

Dan goes on to say that "I want to live in a country where no child’s educational success is limited by their socio-economic background." Using your logic, should we then assume that Tory supporters and members wish to limit educational success to the already advantaged and privileged? Actually, no need to assume - that is really what is going on, isn't it? Your awkward but transparent attempts to insinuate that equal access to good schools has been hampered by the left/Trots always backfires and mirrors how desperate this government has become in trying to conceal its true motives under the spin of caring for the community.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 14/06/2012 - 18:44

Yes Allan, Michael Gove is in cahoots with wicked coal-owners in stovepipe hats to deny educational success to anyone whose parents aren't in the 50% income tax bracket. Why would they want that? I'm sure your paranoid imagination will come up with a motive in a trice.

Meanwhile, let's unpack the OP:

I don’t want informed consumers in education...

Is that code for the not wanting students and their parents to be given information about how well or badly schools are performing. No progress measures? No attainment scores? No value-added data? No Ofsted reports? Just get what you're given....like it or lump it?

It's that kind of contempt for ordinary people that's going to keep Labour on the opposition benches for some years ahead.

I just want good schools

Good by whose reckoning?

I want to live in a country where no child’s educational success is limited by their socio-economic background.

Saying this may make you feel like a better person. It may even make you, like Allan, feel that you are morally superior to Tories. But actually it doesn't make it so any more than declaring yourself in favour of motherhood and apple pie puts you on the moral high ground politically.

Allan Beavis's picture
Thu, 14/06/2012 - 19:39

Tarr -

And this tiresome rant is designed to achieve what? That the Tories closed the equality gap? No, they have widened it. That Tories are morally superior? Hardly, given the level of incompetence, sleaze and corruption engulfing them. That the Trots are paranoid? No, not when Gove and his Special Advisers conduct business through private emails and bully civil servants not to comply with FOI requests and when even Andrew Pollard, who advised Gove on the National Curriculum, has stated that the Secretary for Education's prescriptive and dictatorial ideology is fatally flawed.

I don't think Dan nor I consider ourselves superior but at least we have the guts to fight our battles openly. What exactly is your reason to hide behind an assumed name? Would disclosure compromise the trolling you have taken it upon yourself to do? Or are you authorised to do it? Whatever the reason, and unlike most people who have good reason to use an assumed name and contribute fairly and with no agenda to smear their political opponents, you make little impact aside from reminding us that you are the masked intruder in the room, deluded with a sense of power but ultimately a coward.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 14/06/2012 - 22:44

I find it useful to talk to Ricky Allan. It leads to some useful conversations.

Without Ricky here I have no idea whatsoever why the government are thinking what they are thinking.

No-one in the DFE has any freedom of speech. Speaking out even gently means you're bullied out of your job, your outstanding bills are not paid and you're effectively evicted from state education.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 14/06/2012 - 22:41

"I want to live in a country where no child’s educational success is limited by their socio-economic background."

I heard something very, very worrying at a meeting tonight Ricky. I heard that Aimhigher is in the process of being shut down.

Aimhigher is a scheme that's really have a tremendous impact on childrens' expectations and aspirations at precisely the time it matters.

A quick internet search has led to this

I assumed it was still running because the year 5s and 6s at our local primary school on the council estate have all just come back incredibly inspired and motivated about their futures...... but apparently that's just some tail end money that was already allocated to this.

Ricky - how can you make that claim and align yourself with a government which is shutting down Aimhigher?

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Fri, 15/06/2012 - 10:18

You're a Liberal Democrat Rebecca, so why don't you ask Vince Cable/ After all, it was he who decided to scrap AimHigher - which was a Bis responsibility, nowt to do with Gove.

In case Vince is busy keeping his head down while the leftie media scalphunters are demanding Jeremy Hunt should be sacked for a crime he didn't actually commit, but Vince surely did; let me remind you of what was said at the time (autumn 2010):

1. AimHigher wasn't working very well.

2. Under Labour it had begun to wither on the vine: funding dropping from c. £124m in 2004 to c. £78m in 2010.

3. Vince + Willetts have come up with a better scheme and secured £600m for it. Where AimHigher failed because it was too little too late, focused on the back-end of the cycle, the new initiatives package takes a 'whole-education' approach, starts earlier and has better follow through.

There is nothing remotely 'uncaring' about scrapping schemes that don't work and replacing them with ones that do (and which, despite straitened circumstances, require more resources).

If you really cared about kids from disadvantaged backgrounds making it to uni, you'd stop badmouthing the EBacc and confront the soft bigotry of low expectations in the teaching profession (particularly evident in Cumbria).

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Fri, 15/06/2012 - 22:26

Aimhigher's been working really well up here. It's essential for a place like Cumbria where most students don't live near a university and can not easily get any kind of concept of what one is.
I shall ask the Lib Dems through the LDEA when I meet them later this month.
What's the new scheme called Ricky?

"If you really cared about kids from disadvantaged backgrounds" I would dedicate my whole career to caring for them and teaching them well. And if I was unable to do that because of ignorant central policy I would work only part time to enable me to attend consultations to work on improving that policy. And if a new government turn up and shut down all those consultations so that we were descending rapidly into a pit of totalitarian policy ignorance.... what then Ricky?

"If you really cared about kids from disadvantaged backgrounds making it to uni, you’d stop badmouthing the EBacc"
I'm criticising it because it's a disturbingly ignorant concept which is having profoundly negative consequences for our students form challenging backgrounds as you yourself would see so clearly Ricky if only you had any experience whatsoever of working in a tough secondary school.

"(particularly evident in Cumbria)"
When I started teaching in Cumbria the Heads of Maths were completely amazing and inspirational people who were going on to do things like head up the OU education department and who were respected around the world for the quality of the work they were doing. They were the ones who inspired the likes of Pasi Sahlberg. Now they are all being forced to teach every lesson in an entirely Ofsted centred way and it is weak and ignorant and bad for students compared with what they used to do. This has not just happened under this government, it started in 1990, but it has suddenly got a lot worse under this government due to the behaviour of Ofsted this year, especially in secondary schools.

From my facebook tonight:
Teacher A (teacher with 10-25 years experience): for the first time in my life I do not want to be a teacher anymore. What an empty feeling.
Teacher B (teacher with 10-25 years experience): snap xxxxxxx
Teacher C (teacher with 10-25 years experience): I feel the same. X
Teacher D (teacher with 10-25 years experience): Me too x
Teacher E (retired): please don't give up you lot. you're all fab teachers and the world of education would be a worse place without you all!

And so on and so on and so on and it is the same with everyone I meet. They look grey and ill because they are being forced to do far worse jobs than they have ever done due to Gove's regime. This are hugely dedicated and able teachers who have worked all hours for years without complaint. There complaint is not to do with hard work or problems with the children. It is to do with being forced to teach in ways which are far worse for children than those they have always used. It is about them being stripped of any professional freedom to do what is right for their students and there freedom of choice which they used so wisely being replaced with ignorant diktat.

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