Can you smell an ofsted/academy rat at your school??

(59 Posts)
bexa Tue 22-Jan-13 22:03:11

Roke school in kenley is being forcibly turned into an academy after falling from long standing "outstanding" into special measures in their latest ofsted inspection.

Ofsted hadnt even been back to inspect whether any improvements had been made before handing the school over to David Cameron's personal friend and Tory donor, lord Harris. Smells pretty fishy! The governors were told they would be sacked of they objected. Smells oven more fishy!

Is roke alone? I heard a similar thing happened in coleford. Just wondering if anyone else knows of other schools where this has happened? Either ofsted not returning to do a follow up inspection before declaring academy status or schools falling from outstanding to failing so fast???

Is roke the only one?

prh47bridge Tue 22-Jan-13 22:59:32

Lord Harris does not get to own the school nor can he derive any personal benefit from it. Similarly the Harris Federation does not get to own the school nor can any of the trustees derive personal benefit from it. Lord Harris is a major benefactor both to the Harris Federation schools and to some community schools, mainly in South London. Many of the Harris Federation schools were, of course, established under the previous government.

Roke has been somewhat up and down. It was rated satisfactory in 1996 and good in 2000. It then achieved outstanding ratings in 2005 and 2009. However, it seems to have had two changes of head teacher in quick succession and SATS results have fallen off significantly, leading to the school being rated inadequate in its most recent inspection.

choccyp1g Tue 22-Jan-13 23:44:53

So Lord Harris is a kind generous person who wants nothing more than a lot of hard work and no pay or thanks? and is giving his own money towards running these schools, to make them better?

and he doesn't have any friends or contacts who would like to work in this federation.

How nice of him.

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 13:25:28

It seems the SAT results at Roke were back to above the national average (80%) BEFORE the DfE decided to hand it over to the Harris Federation. The parents are arguing that it is not a failing school, they say it just had a blip.

I was convinced that Academies were not a bad thing before but the more I read, the more alarming and scary the whole thing becomes. I read a newspaper article on the internet that warned that the whole of our education system will be privatised by 2015. I don't think people realise this is happening. We are all asleep and are going to wake up and think how the heck did that happen?

Also if the Conservative win the next election, they have said they will make schools run for profit. The whole forced academy thing makes sense now....

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 13:59:46

choccyp1g - Do tell me what you think Harris gets from giving to state schools. Do you employ the same level of cynicism when discussing school governors who are, of course, unpaid? What about the trustees of major charities such as Oxfam, The National Trust, Barnardo's, etc. They are also unpaid. Do you view them with the same cynicism?

sleepylampost - No, the Conservatives have not said they will make schools run for profit. They have not even said they are going to allow schools to run for profit. Gove has said he is not opposed to the idea that some schools may be run for profit but that is as far as it has gone. Having said that, I would not be surprised if schools were eventually allowed to run for profit.

Just for clarity, I am neither for nor against the government's academy programme.

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 14:11:51

From my very brief internet search, it is a little kept secret that the Tories are 'not against schools being run for profit'. Please tell us something new. If they were not in coalition they would have gone down this path sooner. Even if what you say about there being nothing in it for charities- in that case why can't the parents pick their preferred sponsor? If there is nothing in it for Cameron's friends why can't the parents say 'no thanks, we would rather have someone else sponsoring us'.

Of course people like Harris are setting up chains in the hope that in the longer term schools will be run for profit and they will all be rolling in £££££. To think anything else is blinkered and naive. I have only just realised this. My eyes have opened.

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 14:33:37

sleepylampost - You stated that the Conservatives intend to force schools to run for profit. I pointed out that is not true. And if you are going to attack me on the basis of something you allege I've said at least try to be accurate and quote me correctly.

I suggest you ask Ed Balls and his predecessors in the last government why parents cannot pick the sponsor. They set up the current system under which the governors choose the sponsor. A sponsor is only imposed if the governors of a failing school refuse to co-operate.

I repeat, Lord Harris is a major benefactor to schools and was for may years before the academy programme began. Unlike you I do not see the need to believe that philanthropists such as Lord Harris are in it to make money for themselves.

mummymellymoo Wed 23-Jan-13 16:42:19

I'm not really going to comment on the academy point as I haven't done enough research to formulate an opinion but I would echo op - lord Harris is actually a well-known genuine philanthropist who has donated millions to educational establishments. He's not one of Cameron's Eton cronies but came from humble beginnings in Peckham and has ploughed a lot of his own hard-earned fortune into helping out his former neighbourhood. It's a shame that there are so few genuine benefactors around nowadays that we are automatically so cynical of their motives.

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 17:02:18

The point that is being missed here is that the parents at Roke do not want Lord Harris as their sponsor. They want their local secondary academy to be their sponsor but are being forced by the DfE to accept Harris with no consultation or right of appeal. The fact that Harris is one of David Cameron's personal friends and a major Tory donor does seem to be very relevant.

Have a look on the school's campaign website www.saveroke.co.uk

scaevola Wed 23-Jan-13 17:06:54

Unfortunately, Labour set it up so parents have no say in who is appointed. Does anyone know why they did it like that?

choccyp1g Wed 23-Jan-13 20:51:08

*PRH47.

Like I said,

"Lord Harris must be a really nice man. So Lord Harris is a kind generous person who wants nothing more than a lot of hard work and no pay or thanks? and is giving his own money towards running these schools, to make them better?

and he doesn't have any friends or contacts who would like to work in this federation.

How nice of him."

I was being sarcastic, but thankyou for setting my mind at rest. I presume that as there is nothing in it for him personally, he will of course be happy to bow out if he is not wanted.

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 21:31:32

Somehow despite the best efforts of some people on this thread. I am not reassured about the Harris Federation. Have a look at this.

antiacademies.org.uk/2012/03/harris-federation-spotlight-on-sponsors/

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:39:54

Gove is 'open-minded' about UK schools being run for profit.

www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/may/29/michael-gove-open-state-schools-profit

And, no, Roke is definitely not the only school in this situation. K12, a for-profit US firm were offered dibs in Birmingham.

askparentsfirst.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/522/

choccyp1g Wed 23-Jan-13 21:40:32

Maybe Harris himself may not be quite the money-grubbing privateer on a personal level that I thought. Will read your link sleepy and see what it says about his pals.

In any case, the academy concept is setting up schools to become independant, and to allow for many education services currently provided "at cost" from the local authority to be purchased at "cost plus profit" from private companies.

Obviously some services are already provided by profit-making companies (catering for example). My view is that the more profits are being being taken out along the chain, the less resources actually get to the children's well-being and education.

Some people may differ, thinking that the free market can provide better for everyone in the long-run.

Endymion Wed 23-Jan-13 21:41:32

There are several harris academies in our neck of the woods.

We're (governing body) taking the pragmatic view that since we've had a couple of dodgy years (outgoing head/great new head/staff upheaval) we're at risk from ofsted and if downgraded, of being forced into academisation, and being snaffled up by harris, we're going to try and nip in and do it ourselves.

We'd all rather stay with the LEA. But our LEA is now pro-academy. hmm

They don't want us any more, and as more and more schools go to academy, the function of the LEA is going to become more and more restricted.

It sucks. angry

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 21:43:11

Also those on this thread who are defending Harris are you saying there is nothing fishy about this at all? That is what the OP asked. Can you defend the whole forced academy thing when the school in question is NOT a failing school? Can you defend the lack of consultation with parents and the speed at which good schools, like Roke are seized upon? Can your reassure us that it is all about standards and nothing to do with Michael Gove's desire to turn as many schools into academies as possible before the end of this coalition government? It seems that soon the government will pounce on every school that has a little stutter in performance. Can you defend the reasons for doing this? Isn't this just latent opportunism wrapped in some rhetoric about falling educational standards? I was not clued up about this issue but what I have found out has blown me away. I am truly shocked.

Endymion Wed 23-Jan-13 21:43:30

Apologies for that incredibly convoluted second sentence.

And breathe.....

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:49:54

You're not alone, Endymion. Lots of schools are becoming Co-op trust schools (they'll be over 400 by this summer) which are still maintained.

Endymion Wed 23-Jan-13 21:59:16

It's awful - not so much rats leaving a sinking ship as rats leaving a torpedoed ship.

I would have less of a problem with the concept of academies per se if I wasn't so deeply suspicious of the new ofsted framework coinciding with a push for academy status. By all means offer it as an option, but not the only alternative to being forced to take up with Harris et al. In the past, getting an ofsted downgrade meant accessing good advice, help and assistance from the LEA. Now it is seen as a means to a political end IMO.

Hey ho.

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 22:03:09

How do co-op trust schools work?

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 22:08:39

Endymion... not just your opinion, I wish it was... it is the truth happening all around us. Is it possible that Gove and Ofsted are in cahoots? Ofsted were instructed by DfE to swoop on low performing areas, last week it was Derby. Any school there who is having a blip like Roke or Gladstone Park or any of the other schools cropping up in the media, will be snaffled up and forced into an academy almost as soon as the ink is dry on the Ofsted report. It is frightening it really is. I always thought Ofsted was truly independent.

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Wed 23-Jan-13 22:10:56

Same happened with my dcs school, ofsted report not so good....next thing we know its an academy.
Its like alcatraz, full of ott rules & if ever anyone wants to talk to the principle he is never availableconfused
The secretarys are doing all his dirty work & the original heads and many teachers seem to have vanishedshock, very fishy

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 22:13:57

Pumpkin, did your school always have poor ofsted reports?

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Wed 23-Jan-13 22:20:37

No it has been a recent thing, the main thing failed on was attendence.

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 23-Jan-13 22:29:43

Not sure precisely how co-op trust schools work, but people seem to think they're 'better' than sponsored academies. Not so sure myself from the little I know, but something like the relationship that Church schools have to the LA?

Of course Ofsted and the DfE are in cahoots. Michael Wilshaw was appointed the new Head of Ofsted just over a year ago and has 'tightened the framework' twice since then ie more schools than ever have been put into categories, thus being easy pickings for academy chains.

He used to be head at Mossbourne, the flagship academy of the previous government and this one.

Sally Morgan, on the board at Ofsted, continues to work as an advisor to the ARK chain of academies.

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