Time to say goodbye

Janet Downs's picture

This is the last article I will post on Local Schools Network.  It’s time for me to stop chasing stories about the goings-on in the English education system and properly retire.

I shall miss being a keyboard warrior.  This feeling will not be shared by the Department for Education.  It will no longer have to answer my Freedom of Information requests. Although, never say never.  I might chase something up for someone else.

I couldn’t have done this wthout the help and encouragement of this site’s founders: Fiona, Melissa, Henry and Francis.  They allowed me to contribute to their site (some people might think I took it over).

I have had some successes in the last nine years.  Our campaign, along with Full Fact, to puncture the Gove-myth about ‘plummeting down league tables in ten years’ was successful – eventually – although the myth was still being quoted in Parliament well after it ought to have died.  The DfE explained this resurrection of dodgy data by saying schools minister Nick Gibb had used them ‘inadvertently’.

But my greatest success, which still makes me laugh, was when I discovered that the then education secretary Michael Gove had used dubious surveys to uphold his belief, stated in a Mail article, that English pupils displayed ‘disturbing historical ignorance’. My finding that Gove had used such polling stars as UK TV Gold and Premier Inn as evidence was repeated in, among others, the Independent, the Guardian and on the BBC.

I’d also like to thank all those who’ve read my stuff or taken the time to comment.   Your inbox will have fewer LSN articles clogging it up.

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Peter Lacey's picture
Fri, 06/03/2020 - 17:19

Huge thanks for your diligence and perseverance. Speaking truth to power is the most worthy but not the most easy endeavour.  I shall miss reading your well-researched articles.  Enjoy the time you will now have.

Peter Lacey

Jane Eades's picture
Fri, 06/03/2020 - 18:54

I can understand why you might want some time to yourself but education will be all the poorer. Funnily enough, while reading one of your pieces the other day I was thinking "I don't know how Janet does it". I do hope that all the information you have gained over the years will be available in some way to those who are fighting academy status.

Again, thank you so much for all the support you have given to everyone (apart from academy trusts and the DfE) over the years. We will certainly miss you.

Philip Blackburn's picture
Fri, 06/03/2020 - 19:05

Sorry to see you go! You’ve done some great digging and made the facts known about a number of issues that would otherwise have remained hidden. Enjoy retirement.

Ivan Godfrey's picture
Fri, 06/03/2020 - 19:30

I haven't commented for years but have followed your assiduous research with admiration and envy. Enjoy other fields ... and try not to miss it too much!!

Brian R Wilson's picture
Fri, 06/03/2020 - 19:38

I'll miss you a lot. You have been a clear and incisive voice of reason in all the fudge and misinformation.

Matthew Bennett's picture
Sat, 07/03/2020 - 09:08

Thank you for all your hard work and persistence Janet.  It will be sorely missed.  Enjoy your retirement.

Graham's picture
Sat, 07/03/2020 - 23:31

Thanks Janet. Your persistence in exposing myths, deceptions and downright lies has been second to none. You’ll be sadly missed.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 08/03/2020 - 08:39

Thanks for all your kind messages.  

agov's picture
Sun, 08/03/2020 - 09:44

First you retire from teaching and now this??? It's like it's becoming a habit. What next - apple pie? ;)

At least you are departing (- you could visit Incredible India!) at a time when education may not be quite so gloomy as the last few years may have seemed. We have just had an indication of our budget for next year and we are reasonably pleased: the first time for a number or years. Obviously just one of the many positives to come from finally getting Brexit resolved successfully (at least to a point).

Very best wishes and thanks for all your serious and fun articles and comments.

I'll miss you.

John Mountford's picture
Sun, 08/03/2020 - 18:30

I am sad. Thank you so much, Janet, for the huge service you have given to education. I have felt close to you through your writing. I doubt there is anyone in education blogging who has demonstrated such dedication and scholarship to the task of keeping people informed about the current state of state education. You will be misses by all of us who have marvelled at your endurance in the face of the institutional indifference of the DfE, ministers and Secretaries of State for Education. They have systematically failed a generation of vulnerable children and young people whose case will now be the poorer argued because of your loss.

It will be interesting to find out if LSN still has a future. You will be missed. Wishing you good fortune, health and happiness in all you do.
All the very best,

Jon White's picture
Mon, 09/03/2020 - 10:46

Invaluable commentary for all of us who fight for socialist education and local schools out of the hands of the corporate vultures. So many times have I been able to use the facts from your articles in conversations with SLT, LAs, DfE etc. Well done on all.
I hope there will be an archive of all on the website.
Enjoy your full requirement and thanks you x

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