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Free school head without any teaching qualifications plans to ignore curriculum(313 Posts)
Second headteacher quits Future Academies:
I agree - she was unqualified and completely lacking in experience, and I feel sorry for her for having been subjected to such stress as she was so obviously out of her depth.
Lord Nash wrote the foreword for the Governors' Handbook in May 2013. Section 5.2 'Appointing staff':
'Appointing a head teacher is a pivotal decision in the life of a school. It is crucial that a governing body has the skills it needs to carry out a thorough and effective selection process.'
They have an acting head at the secondary and have asked a deputy at a newly acquired primary to step in the breach here, which puts pressure on staff at the other school. Apparently another class teacher at Pimlico primary has left. He and his wife are co-chair of governors of Pimlico Academy and his wife is chair of the primary.
As governors he and his wife are obviously lacking in the skills and competence to make an effective appointment. But as they sponsor the school and he is Schools Minister, who can sack the governors in this case?
Back on topic - I recently had to deal with the process of performance review and target setting for the headteacher at a school where I'm a governor. It was blindingly obvious that no head without experience of teaching could conceivably do that job, and you have to wonder what on earth Lord Nash was thinking putting his protegée up for it. Reports suggest she was finding it too stressful with only 60 children in the school, so she didn't have a hope in hell of coping with a full school.
Labour having been working on the assumption that all they need to do is sit tight and the Tories will lose the next election, either via a hideous scandal or via the economy still being in the toilet. They've also been working on the assumption that the Lib Dem vote will collapse to zero and every one of those votes will come "back" to Labour; the idea that Labour are the natural owners of the
SDP Lib Dem vote, an idea that the last thirty years' history should have disabused them of, is apparently still prevalent.
Neither appears to be the case, and Labour are (at last) thinking they might actually have to publish a manifesto and campaign on some policies in 2015. Unfortunately, the poor loves aren't really quite up to it, and therefore "we'll do what the Tories do, so don't worry about instability, but it'll all be fluffier and nicer in ways we can't quite define" is about all they can do.
Accepting Osbourne's spending plans are binding on an incoming Labour government is kind-of OK: the economy's still going to be substantial deficit, and a Labour party that planned to increase annual borrowing and/or raise taxation wouldn't be electable. Even they can see that. But why the fuck do they see the need to pre-commit to essentially continuing unchanged Gove's education policies? If an incoming government is going to do the same as the existing government, why bother changing?
Free schools are just new academies. Labour has to justify why it created/approved sponsored academies in the first place. And figure out why many are unpopular with middle class parents - they were forced conversions in many cases but with capital investment.
The problem with the Hunt article is that so far he doesn't mention
(a) how the Academies Act prevents councils from setting up its own schools,
(b) how to get some oversight over fair admissions, including faith schools which can still be set up as both voluntary aided (100% faith criteria) or free schools (50% cap but often outside the existing network of church organisation)
(c) how to get schools collaborating rather than competing
(d) a categorical rejection of profit-making and conflicts of interest among government decision-makers and Ofsted inspectors.
But apart from that I'm sure he's jolly nice.
Actually, Hunt included social entrepreneurs in his list of groups that would be allowed to set up not Free, oh no, completely difference, schools.
You're welcome to interpret that as excluding commercial companies.
It's a policy car-crash: Free schools allow in all sorts of charlatans, and Hunt's announcement is just a thin coat of paint on the same thing.
Actually what the Guardian article says is that Labour have said theywill support parent led free schools in areas where there is a shortage of school places. Under a quarter of Free Schools are being set up by parents at the moment.
(So for example, the The Free School in Islington I keep banging on about is being proposed by a commercial company to open in an area where there is no shortage of places, which is quite a different case.....)
Now that Free Schools are Labour orthodoxy as well, it's going to be amusing to watch the Guardian pirouette and suddenly decide that they are a dynamic and innovative response to education policy, the sort of thing that this country needs more of.
By the way the Free School I just mentioned is discussed here:-
Interestingly last Thursday I was at a "Consultation meeting" organised by the proposers of a Free School, that, if it opens will open near me. At the meeting we were assured in the strongest possible terms by Bellvue Ltd, the commercial company that want to set up the school, that all the teachers would be fully qualified and the Head, when appointed would be both qualified AND experienced... The Pimlico case was never mentioned, but I think it must have been in their minds...
Obviously the normal notice period does not apply in free schools either ...
...I wonder if they had her email address?
There's more on it in a local paper:
'A source close to the school told West End Extra that there had been an incident where parenting skills were called into question. They described it as a “Victorian approach to schooling”. It is believed the deputy head of Millbank Academy, another Future-run primary school, Kelly Teddy has been parachuted in to “hold the fort while they try to sort it all out”. '
So perhaps it was the stress of dealing with parents...
Some of the core knowledge UK isn't that bad but they've chopped and changed it in a fashion that makes a complete hash of the US version.
They seem to have completely got rid of the idea of domain based units that link the different areas of the curriculum. Bits of history and geography have moved year groups so some art/music literature that linked and should be in other year groups has moved as well, leaving them overcrowded. Other bits stayed where they were so are now taught in isolation rather than as part of a topic.
The music is a mess because they've tried to crush 9 years of curriculum into 6. This also added to the overcrowding in some year groups where bits had been moved.
WRT history, the US has a lot less history to cover. That allows them to do a brief overview from K-2 and a more in depth study from 3-5 alongside major world civilisations, then in depth studies of world history from 6-8. The UK has metric fuck ton of history from the Stone age to the modern day and they've tried to cram it all into 6 years + world civs. Whoever decided that an overview of the change in the power and role of the monarchy and parliament should go in year 1 has obviously never met a 5 year old. The CRE history curriculum which is also chronological is much better, IMO.
The less said about the geography curriculum the better. WTF is going on with the European part? Or the UK regional part for that matter.
There may not have been an "appointing committee."
One of the "freedoms" Free Schools have is to ignore all the recruitment rules, including competitive appointments on merit.
Also in an ordinary state school the appointment (and for that matter removal) of a Head is a matter for the school governing body so parents are involved in the decision through their elected representatives. In Free Schools this decision is entirely one for the Trust ie the sponsor. The school GB (of which in any case a majority are appointed by the Trust) has no say.
@merrymouse, " That curriculum does look rather stressful to convey in its entirety..."
I looked at it a year or so ago with eyes biased by a relatively bright and musical DD and I couldn't see how it would possibly work for a child and thus their teacher, especially at the younger ages. Amongst many problems it has of course got everything (and then some) that was wrong with Gove's history in the new curriculum before he did the U-turn.
It beggars my belief i.e. I find it almost incomprehensible that people playing with education can be so pig-ignorant about the nature of young children.
I don't know what the appointing committee were thinking - what a mess.
The Guardian article says that the parents had been told she was ill and would be coming back... sounds like it was their reporter who informed them that she had left. Bet that went down well...
I can't imagine the staff would be particularly supportive of her, unless they were hired knowing exactly what the situation would be.
I wonder if she actually did any teaching herself at Pimlico Primary? A local BBC programme showed parents who expected to see her in the classroom and talked of a 'temporary teacher'. Her experience consisted of editing someone else's books and tutoring in after-school clubs, while her teaching practice may have been with older children, so being in front of 30 four-year-olds might have been a shock to the system. Or was it the stress of managing trained teachers with far more experience than her? Or talking parents who had completely different expectations from her?
The school only opened in September! So she made it an entire month...
Just looked at website - looks like the US version but adapted for UK history and geography. That curriculum does look rather stressful to convey in its entirety...
There is an entire 'curriculum' for Y1-6 you can get from their site in year-by-year pieces, each being 20+ pages long. You don't get three terms of lesson plans with the NC (but can obviously go buy them).
The UK series seems to be just "What your Year 1 child should Know". Maybe she has quite to to do the rest of the lesson planning.
Hirsch is an influential American education "guru" founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation - co-author of what your first grader ...... & in UK what your Year 1 child ...... (Annaliese Briggs/ED Hirsch)
[the 'what your first grader should know' etc. etc. books.
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