Filed under: Education and the new government | Tags: big society, Coalition, Croydon Guardian, disability discrimination, disabled access, discrimination, Free Schools, Harris Academy, Mr Gove, Ofsted, selective practices, SEN, SEN appeal, sharp elbowed middle classes, wheelchair access, wheelchair ramps
‘Exemplary care, guidance and support pervade all aspects of the Academy’s provision.” Ofsted 2009. This comment is taken from the Ofsted report 2009 for the Harris Academy, Crystal Palace. According to the Croydon Guardian eleven year old Idayah Miller from Norbury, has been told that she can’t have a place there because her wheelchair will get in the way of other children in the school’s crowded 1950’s corridors. It appears that her wheelchair is a health and safety risk because she would not be able to get out of the school if there was a fire. Here is the link to the article: http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/8670892.Disabled_girl__health_and_safety_risk___says_school/ Oh, and the newspaper also states that the school has said that Idayah is not academically capable enough to attend this school because it is a ‘high pressure, high performing’ school and she would be likely to be upset and suffer from low self esteem when she falls behind her friends. The school’s own prospectus, however, says ‘Harris is an inclusive school which admits students with disabilities and special needs on an equal basis with other students. The Academy has installed lifts, disabled access ramps and wheelchair facilities. As a result, disabled students, including those in wheelchairs, have full access to the curriculum.’ It would appear that the decision not to admit Idayah is very much at odds with what is written in the prospectus.
I am somewhat puzzled by the comments in the newspaper regarding Idayah’s ability. Why is this relevant to any decision to not allocate a place to her? Nowhere does it say in the school’s prospectus (unless they are busily producing a new one as we speak), that this is a selective school, indeed the prospectus would appear to be saying the opposite. Furthermore, the school is obviously able to take children in wheelchairs as it says it has wheelchair ramps and wheelchair facilities in its prospectus. Idayah’s father has lodged an appeal against this decision and the case will be heard by an independent panel in December.
Since the coalition government came to power we have seen disabled students (if they actually have special educational needs!) maligned in the Press through the media circus that accompanied the Ofsted report, ‘Special Educational Needs and Disability Review – A statement is not enough’. Parents who stand up for the rights of their disabled children are the ‘sharp elbowed middle classes’, and suddenly it is OK for the very rich to seek to have private school style educations funded by the State under the auspices of the free schools movement. Perhaps schools who believe in selection now feel no need to hide selective practices? Frighteningly, there are only 14 comments on the article. I would have expected there to be more.
Big Society? I think not. It appears that to be born with a disability can disqualify you from access to the high quality education the education secretary champions so vociferously. It is not acceptable in 2010 for this sort of discrimination and prejudice to be present in publicly funded education establishments. Over to you Mr Gove.
Filed under: Education and the new government | Tags: 51%, Academies, chid benefit, Coalition, coalition cuts, Conservatives, deception, Deputy Prime Minister, disadvantaged, Education Minister, equality, equitable, fair, fixed election term, Free Schools, Michael Gove, Special Educational Needs, spin, The Guardian, tuition fees, vote of no confidence
There has been a lot of talk about how election pledges have been broken on tuition fees and on child benefit. Lots of column inches, hours of radio and television and bucket loads of spin. It was hard to watch TV, listen to the radio or read a paper without seeing the DPM telling of his angst and regret.
Almost unnoticed except for a small article in The Guardian, see it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/oct/24/michael-gove-pupil-premium – was the news that the Minister of Education had revealed that the funding for the ‘Pupil Premium’ was not in fact ‘new money’ but would largely come out of other schools funding . Why is this important? It’s important because the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Education Minister have all previously said that it would come from outside the Education budget. Was it a mistake, sophistry or downright deception? I suppose we will never know.
What I do know is that through skilful spin it has not emerged as a big issue and was not widely reported. Because of this the government’s media monitors/advisers will clap themselves on the back and say that nobody is making a fuss about this so you can go ahead and push on and cut more money from budgets for poor or disadvantaged pupils . It’s cynical, nasty and demonstrates their true colours.
You can’t do anything about the parliament at the moment because the first thing the government did was to fix the election term and make 51% the margin for a vote of no confidence. You can however influence them by campaigning in the media. I admire the skill of the Conservative spin doctors because they have made the Liberal members of the cabinet take most of the heat. They do have a weakness though in that we have seen the Prime Minister have some spectacular wobbles when public opinion goes very much against them eg. Child Benefit.
If we want a society in which we look after the vulnerable and believe in an equitable (not ‘FAIR’ ) education system we need to say so now. We need coverage in the papers, radio and on TV and then we can make this happen. I haven’t seen any money being taken from Free Schools and Academies for the few, when there are so many schools which need appropriate funding. Free Schools are not about education they are about social selection and elitism. Don’t believe me, take a trip to the Conservative Home website article on admissions policy and see what will come if we don’t object now.
I don’t believe that the case for these cuts in education has been proved. The Conservative spin campaign is masking the nasty ideology behind the re-engineering of our education system into a social and educational elitist organisation paid for by our money. The next thing to ‘go’ (ie change irrevocably) will be the admissions code. Remember you saw it here first.
Filed under: Education and the new government | Tags: Coalitioin, Falconer, Free Schools, improved teaching, Ofsted, pastoral care, Private Schools, school funding, SEN
Falconer, whose association represents more than 500 schools in the UK, will call on the government to give parents the amount it costs to educate their child through primary school – £6,000 – and allow them to choose the school they wish. He will say that parents should be able to supplement the sum if they want to educate children in the private sector.’ See the article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/sep/27/private-schools-free-schools?showallcomments=true#end-of-comments
Hmmm, if Mr Gove has said that the Coalition wishes to improve education for everybody, I fail to see how handing out £6,000 to individual parents will do this.
Perhaps a better route would be to provide better teaching and pastoral care for children in all schools. Sound familiar? It should, it was all over the Press last week in relation to OFSTED’s controversial report (which everybody seems to have forgotten about) about special needs. Now, surely if improved teaching and pastoral care is good enough to improve standards for children with SEN, it should also be good enough for everybody else.
If we were to go ahead with this scheme, how would we identify or assess those suitable? What if everybody wanted £6,000 per child? Mr Falconer, I’ve got no objection to private schools existing. I have no objection to parents purchasing either a better standard of education (or social exclusivity) for their offspring. However, in these days of austerity I have to say that there are many many institutions and organisations more worthy of a £6,000 freebie per child than yours.
Furthermore, it is our experience that private schools don’t really want children with SEN, or want to charge higher fees to cover TA’s and specialised teaching. Some of their SEN policies make dark threats to ask children to leave if SEN is identified and they believe parents have withheld this information.
Any head teachers out there? Would this not be an administrative and funding nightmare? How would you go about extricating £6,000 from your funding scheme once a child’s parents decide to place them in the private sector?
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Academies, Audit Commission, benefit cheats, Children with disabilities, coalition cuts, education, Education Minister, Free Schools, Health and Safety, Individual Education Plan, lifestyle choice, Ofsted, SENCO, Teaching Assistant
I urge you all to read this report for yourselves. I have not finished reading it myself but have in the first two pages encountered some seriously sweeping statements not properly backed up by research which aim to cut costs and enable publicly funded money to go to independent schools and private schools, academies and free schools.
I am going to take a little time to read and digest the report before I publish any analysis. However, the way this has been reported leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The report only became available on the OFSTED website after 9.30am today, after all of the bad headlines and scaremongering media coverage had been presented largely unchallenged.
The bit I have read so far is not based on evidence which stands any reasonable test and the conclusions are ideologically motivated rather than evidence based. Yesterday I commented on the Toby Young article which was scaremongering about Health and Safety and children with disabilities in schools. I said at that time that Toby would be declaring that disability is a ‘lifestyle choice’. It’s happened, although it is referred to as ‘special educational needs’. Watch the media as special educational needs becomes the new benefit cheat.
You don’t have to take this. WE don’t have have to take this! What has motivated OFSTED to do this? Follow the money… OFSTED obviously don’t want to go the way of the Audit Commission. Do we detect the hand of GOVE?
Filed under: Education and the new government, Uncategorized | Tags: education, Free Schools, Michael Rosen, privilege, status quo, Toby Young, two-tier education system
This is the link to Michael Rosen’s comment on an article about ‘Free Schools’ in The Guardian today. I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments.
It’s worth reading the article and all the comments that go with it.In fact there is probably more debate and argument in this one article than the government allowed in Parliament before it forced the Academies Act through!!!!!
Filed under: Education and the new government | Tags: Academies, BSF, Building Schools for the Future programme, Coalition, disability discrimination, education, Education Minister, equality, Free Schools, Guerrilla Mum, haves and have nots, inclusive, Michael Gove, Minister for Education, Ofsted, Special Educational Needs, two-tier education system
It’s hard to post about Free Schools without being mean and nasty and hurting people. I don’t mind being mean and nasty about politicians when I have to because they have put themselves in the firing line but I don’t want to upset other parents simply trying to do the best for their children. So, I am not naming the institution I am writing about, I will just use some of their press.
This private school formed by a band of parents following the closure of its predecessor, has been set up with an initial cohort of fifteen pupils in a wing of a 4 star hotel. The staff and Head teacher have almost wholly been transplanted from the old school, and the website looks very like the old one.
I have no problem with parents who choose to opt out of the state education system. However, this is an option they should expect to pay for. Nor do I have a problem with this school setting itself up in a 4 star hotel, and providing the sort of education for these children that the parents have agreed to pay for. I understand that the group undertook considerable fund raising activities to make their dream possible. I am sure it will be a very good school and will provide a good all round education for the children who go there.
The School’s governors have said that the school has applied to become one of the first free schools – a publicly funded, mixed-ability independent school set up to meet parents’ demand, and it will be free from local authority control. These schools will be able to set up their own curriculum, as they don’t have to follow the national curriculum and they will also be responsible for buying in services to meet special educational needs.
This is where I begin to have a problem with this. Michael Gove has funded his Academies and Free Schools projects by taking away money from the Building Schools for the Future programme (BSF) in order to give it to the Academies and Free Schools. In fact, our mainstream state schools that are neither academies nor free schools are set to lose out twice: not only have they lost out after the cancellation of the BSF programme, but also the yearly funding costs of academies and free schools will be met by taking money from existing schools in any area where these schools are set up.
Pause for a moment to think of a select few children enjoying a publicly funded private school style education in a luxury hotel, and compare this to:
- images of children being educated in decrepit school buildings
- school corridors with buckets lined up to catch the drips from leaky roofs
- children in overcrowded portacabins
- children wearing coats in cold classrooms due to broken and ill-fitting windows
Is this not indicative of a two tier education system with a vastly widening gap between the haves and have nots of society?
This new private school say that they have been praised by Ofsted for their policies, but these can not be seen on the website. There is scant mention of managing the needs of children with special educational needs, and nothing about equality of opportunity or an admissions policy. Not wishing to get too political, I happen to like the work done by the previous government in the areas of equality, disability discrimination and special educational needs, and my children have enjoyed these protections in their education. Indeed, these policies are very evidently displayed on their school website and awareness of these issues in their school is generally very good.
The new private school I am writing about here is still a fee paying school, but if it ever becomes a free school, it will end up being funded by public money, and the school, the governing body and no doubt many of the parents will be able to decide how this money is spent. Not the government, not the Local Authority. Now despite huge claims by Michael Gove that hundreds of groups had expressed interest in becoming Free Schools, there were at the last count only 16 set to open in September 2011, about which Mr Gove was reputed to be not very happy. Perhaps, like me, most state schools appreciate the protections offered to the vulnerable by continuing to keep their schools under local authority control? This general lack of uptake does not bode well for the likelihood of free schools becoming a widespread and inclusive model for education.
How can we sit by and let this happen without so much as a whimper? This model is not an acceptable vision of the future of education for me. Whether this model is an acceptable vision of the future of education for Mr Gove remains to be seen. But why provide a luxury education for the few at public expense, if we can’t do it for the many?