Roke School - forced primary academy

(118 Posts)
yellowsubmarine53 Wed 16-Jan-13 14:48:44

Yesterday's Guardian....

Forcing primary schools to become sponsored academies is...

a) a well-thoughtful strategy to improve standards in schools which have been under performing for years and lack the necessary leadership and direction with which to improve

b) a way to hand as many public assets as possible over to corporate academy chains as quickly as possible. Being a Tory peer, Tory party donor and friend of David Cameron gives you a natural advantage in benefiting from this situation.

The DfE say a). What do others think?

admission Wed 16-Jan-13 17:16:58

I say read the Ofsted report that says that attainment at KS2 has dropped from outstanding to satisfactory, that the average level for teaching seen was satisfactory and no outstanding teaching, that despite having a very wide cross-section of pupils the school had no data on the achievement of different ethnic groups, that TA support was variable and that both SLT and governing body were not leading and managing the school well
All that appears to add up to a coasting school and notice to improve is typically what will happen then.
The current political situation is that all schools in special measures, notice to improvement or requiring improvement (the old satisfactory) are going to be pushed into being an academy is well known and not avoidable. Why it had to become a Harris Academy is something between the school and the DfE, but the DfE will always win!

rotavirusrita Wed 16-Jan-13 17:28:56

it really boils my piss but as far as i can see what i think matters very little.

rotavirusrita Wed 16-Jan-13 17:30:41

Oh and its happening to the nhs and police too.

Ladymuck Wed 16-Jan-13 18:44:07

The last Ofsted inspections in 2005 and 2009 were both outstanding, but I think there's been a change in head since. I have to say that I share the parents concern at the choice of academy. Roke feeds into Riddlesdown school (and is a named feeder school), and geographically they are close (walking distance versus the bus ride to the nearest Harris academy). I would have thought that the staff at Riddlesdown would be in a far better position to understand what issues pupils from Roke are having, and to be able to help the Roke SLT and governors. Harris may be good, but it does seem an odd solution given the geography and the local ties. Riddlesdown is meant to be one of the best academies locally so it is surprising that it wasn't used.

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 16-Jan-13 20:26:45

Yes, notice to improve is the judgement rightly given to 'coasting schools' with an expectation that they will, eh, improve. The Ofsted report was in May 2012 and in Dec 12 Croydon LA gave the school top marks for all its improvement and performance measures. Ofsted were due back in for a monitoring visit last term and didn't go despite several invitations by the school. Coincidently, they went in today, 24 hours after the story about the DFe failing to follow their own guidelines hit the national press.

I've no idea why the governors agreed to become a Harris academy (I guess being threatened with the sack), when the school already works with an outstanding local academy which it feeds into. Nor why the school wasn't given a reasonable period to improve. Other than Harris have several schools in Croydon and fancied getting their hands on what is essentially a solid school, so they can claim credit for ongoing improvements.

Swainymum Fri 18-Jan-13 10:12:31

As a parent at Roke, Riddlesdown Collegiate would have been an ideal choice if we were forced to go to an academy, but we were told this would not be acceptable and that Harris would be taking over. The parents of Roke are campaigning to have this decision overturned, and the governors have expressed that their first choice of academy would be Riddlesdown. However, as yellowsubmarine53 states, their hands are rather tied. For further information, please visit

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 18-Jan-13 10:23:44

The judgement made in the High Court this summer unfortunately seems to suggest that it's game over as the governing body have already been bullied agreed to accept the DfE's plans.

Absolute and outrageous abuse of power, and what a tragedy for the effective joint working already in place at a local level. It would be interesting to know the motivations of the governing body and what role the LA played in this disgrace.

So basically any school, regardless of its history capacity to improve and without any consultation, is prey if - and only if - an academy chains fancies getting its hands on it.

An Ofsted 'notice to improve' becomes a 'for grabs' sign to the carpet baggers rather than the needs analysis that it was intended to be.

prh47bridge Fri 18-Jan-13 10:49:22

I must say I've never heard charities referred to as "carpet baggers" before.

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Fri 18-Jan-13 10:53:09

How has no one realised this before?!? ALL schools are being moved to academy's which means you'll end up with massive differences in schools. Each school will require business managers, accountants and will need to be run as businesses. So these people will need to command impressive pay.

So what will happen to those teachers just trying to educate?!

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 18-Jan-13 11:29:17

Really, prh, well might I suggest that you're a little behind the times?

I expect that we'll all be hearing it much more over the next few years.

CalmChaos Fri 18-Jan-13 20:23:36

I don't believe they are one does something for nothing. Just look what article says about lord Harris being David Cameron's best buddy. It is fatcat bullingdon boys all the way. Can anyone actually believe this is better for our children? What happened to the good old carefree school days we had?

sleepylampost Fri 18-Jan-13 21:22:59

Surely, if a school is struggling it is better to get in there early and give it some extra investment and good management? We owe that to the kids. It seems to me there is a postcode lottery starting in education just like we had in the NHS under the last government. Some places are falling behind the rest of the country.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 18-Jan-13 22:27:26

This school had a dip in performance - its KS2 results in 2011 were above the govt floor target, but not good enough given the school's cohort. The school was put on a notice to improve in May 2012.

Since that time, the school has received excellent support from Ribblestone Collegiate and the LA and its results improved dramatically in 2012 and the LA gave it top marks in all progress measure in its inspection in Dec 2012.

So, yes you're absolutely right sleepy. It was great that the school and LA took action early and gave it some good investment and management which paid real dividends.

And what a shame that that excellent work matters not a jot when there's some academy chain desperate to get their grubby paws on a particular school.

CalmChaos Sat 19-Jan-13 11:39:43

I think the grubby paws are very more likely to be very nicely manicured ones that have been shaking hands with all the people that matter in this land. The nose is likely to be very brown too....

CalmChaos Sat 19-Jan-13 11:43:20

I think the grubby paws are very more likely to be very nicely manicured ones that have been shaking hands with all the people that matter in this land. The nose is likely to be very brown too.... Oh dear its starting to sound like a Julia Donaldson character this fictional carpetbagging creature. But is this far from the truth?

yellowsubmarine53 Sat 19-Jan-13 20:08:08

Unfortunately, not, calmchaos.

I see carpetbagger as more Roald Dahl myself....

sleepylampost Sat 19-Jan-13 22:56:25

Joking aside, maybe what coasting schools like this one need is a good kick up the jacksie and if people with business acumen can provide this, then why not let them have a go and see if they can improve things?

yellowsubmarine53 Sat 19-Jan-13 23:15:26

The kick up the backside is what a notice to improve is. The school was required to improve, brought in help from the LA and the local outstanding secondary school they already have close links with and indeed did improved.

When the school was put on a notice to improve, it was told that Ofsted would be carrying out a monitoring visit to check progress in the autumn term. This didn't happen, and the school has been carpet bagged despite the LA regarding its progress as excellent in Dec '12.

An Ofsted inspection suddenly materialised within a day of the national media getting hold of the story.

sleepylampost Sat 19-Jan-13 23:26:21

So Yellowsub you are saying there is something more fishy about this? I don't really understand why becoming an academy is so bad if they have more money and resources. Is it just the choice of sponsor that is the problem, since he is one of Cameron's men or the academy itself?

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 08:09:03

Converter academies don't have more money or resources. The original ones set up under the last government did - they were brand new schools - but those which convert now don't.

Leaving the broader political picture aside for the moment, in this instance the school was given a notice to improve and did improve by developing the partnership working they were already going with a local outstanding school. The local authority considered that the school had made excellent improvements when it inspected in December.

It seems to have been at this point that the DfE visited and told the governors that they would be sacked unless they agreed to the school being taken over by the Harris Federation. I've no idea why the governors agreed to this, and didn't undertake the broader consultation that the Academy Act requires, or get legal advice re autocratic choice of sponsor or lots of other things, really.

So to answer your question, the problem is both. There has been no reasonable explanation offered as to why the excellent working with a local school (which Roke feeds into and is an academy btw) isn't being allowed to continue or even be evaluated by Ofsted.

The primary reason seems to be that Tory peer and donor and close friend of David Cameron Lord Harris fancies expanding this portfolio of primary schools (the Harris Federation intends to go from 19 to 30 schools this year) and Roke seemed like easy pickings in an area where Harris also have secondary schools and is obviously a school that won't need much or any intervention from a sponsor to continue to improve.

So yes, I do find it all a bit fishy really, as to why public assets are being handed over left, right and centre to anyone well connected enough who wants them, with absolutely no explanation as to how this will benefit the children in the school or the community which the school serves.

CalmChaos Sun 20-Jan-13 08:35:35

I'm liking a Roald Dahl, 'carpetbagger' or perhaps 'The Grinch that stole our schools'.

sleepylampost Sun 20-Jan-13 09:14:07

Hmmm. I just looked at parent website. You are right. This doesn't look properly thought out by the DfE and very rushed. Is this school the only one in this position, with good results but still being taken over? Or are there others in same boat?

BTW it says in press releases that DfE threatened Governors with dismissal if they raised any objection. I'm need more convincing that academies are a bad thing but it does seem that this particular case has been handled very badly.

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 21:37:05

Since Gove announced his primary academy agenda in June 2012, the DfE has employed up to 40 civil servants full time to go up and down the country meeting with governing bodies in order to bully them to convert.

Once a school is in an Ofsted category (notice to improve or special measures), it becomes 'eligible for intervention' as defined by the Academy Act and Education Act. In the first instance for a maintained school like Roke this should mean local level support which should then be evaluated by Ofsted in a monitoring visit. The local level support happened effectively, but the carpet baggers got in before Ofsted.

More and more schools are being placed in Ofsted categories, as a result of higher and higher thresholds in the framework.

Gove originally spoke about 200 schools being forced to convert but it's become clear over the last 18 months that he will force any he can.

It's not thought through at all - none of this is.

sleepylampost Sun 20-Jan-13 23:34:14

Is there anything parents can do? It does seem a bit unfair if this school was only failing for 7 months. They are saying there's been no consultation but can they force a judicial review?

yellowsubmarine53 Mon 21-Jan-13 10:33:05

I'm not sure, tbh. The High Court judgement made in the summer (see my link from barrister David Woolfe's blog above) indicates that once the governors have agreed to become an academy then that's pretty much game over.

Jumblemum Mon 21-Jan-13 11:29:32

I don't know if there are other schools in this position, but it is quite likely as the DofE are really pushing through academies - as a mum with kids in Roke it is quite frightening how this is being forced on us. I thought parental choice in education was actually something the Conservatives supported.

I have to say that I really feel the school has improved since the last Ofsted - communication with parents has got so much better. I've always been happy with the standard of teaching as both my children are doing well and more importantly, enjoy going to the school. I expect the interim report will bear this out, and surely that makes becoming an academy pointless?

I don't like the idea of having Harris as a sponsor either, because although they are a charity they have a business ethos, which I think they are quite proud of, and I don't feel this will fit well with primary school education. I am sure they will push SATS at the expense of producing well rounded children because that is the only way they can measure 'success'. That's just my opinion though. They have not set a date to come to the school to talk to parents yet - I emailed to ask.

prh47bridge Mon 21-Jan-13 12:45:46

public assets are being handed over left, right and centre to anyone well connected enough who wants them

No they are not. As I have pointed out previously, no public assets are handed over to anyone when a school converts to academy status. The land and buildings remain in public ownership.

yellowsubmarine53 Mon 21-Jan-13 13:06:58

By handed over, I meant given a 125 year lease for a peppercorn rent.

yellowsubmarine53 Mon 21-Jan-13 13:11:58

jumblemum, I wouldn't hold your breath. Two schools near here were taken over by Harris in September 2012 and Harris haven't visited either of them since a consultation costing over £45,000 took place in the summer, resulting on 94% of the school population voting against the school becoming an academy. The Dfe handed it over anyway.

On the other hand, a new head started in one at the end of last term and parents all seem to rate her. She's really pushing to extend the curriculum if that helps. I don't know what's happening in the other and tbh I think the way a school is run is largely down to the Head, regardless of the school's status.

I agree that the speed with which this has been done and the stealth is scary. Why did the governors vote it through, do you know?

prh47bridge Mon 21-Jan-13 15:59:05

Yes, they do only pay a peppercorn rent. Paying a full commercial rent for the land and premises would not make sense.

Remember that the only funding the school has is the money it receives from the government. If they have to pay full rent the funding from the government would have to be increased to pay for it. The government would, or course, reclaim that additional funding from the LA by reducing their schools grant. The effect would be the government taking money from the LA to pay the academy so that it can then pay the LA, which would be completely pointless. Of course, the government could choose not to fund the academy for the rent it has to pay in which case the school will have less money available to spend on educating pupils.

yellowsubmarine53 Mon 21-Jan-13 20:18:04

The thread is about the process by which the decision to hand the school over has been made, rather than the details of subsequent rental agreements, I would suggest.

Jumblemum Mon 21-Jan-13 21:20:07

Was the expensive consultation part of a forced academisation (sorry, horrid word) Yellowsubmarine? I would much prefer Harris to show their face soon and deal with some of the questions I've got now (even about stuff like uniform! I've got loads of Roke hand-me-downs and I don't want to be buying all new next year)

The governors told us parents at our meeting that the Department of Education threatened them with the sack if they didn't go along with academy status and the same if they told staff below senior management or any parents. They also said that they had to force DofE to look at the improvements they were making and that DofE weren't interested.

I don't much like the sound of the DofE!

sleepylampost Mon 21-Jan-13 21:24:16

JumbleMum, do you know what improvements will come with the new Harris Academy? Any ideas if there will be changes for the school, in terms of facilities etc? It's all interesting, that there does not seem to be any extra benefits from what is being said on here. What are the pros and cons?

yellowsubmarine53 Mon 21-Jan-13 21:31:32

jumblemum, yes, DfE spent £45,000 of public money on a consultation that they then ignored.

It's a shame that the governors at your school gave in so quickly to the DfE's bullying. They would have had a legal case to uphold the LA's right to act on the notice to improve before 'intervention' occurred.

Although what you describe illustrates a phenomenal degree of bullying - no interest in school improvements, withholding information from staff and parents (presumably so that no campaign or union action could be lauched quickly enough) then it's ker-ching Lord Harris!

sleepylampost Tue 22-Jan-13 20:51:42

Roke is back in the news today. The more I read, the more concerned I become.

bexa Tue 22-Jan-13 21:53:34

The speed and number of schools being turned into academies is shocking. In the city where I live, all but three of the secondary schools are academies. None of the teachers I know want to work for academies because the working conditions are so bad - u are basically working for a business.

The story of roke does smell pretty fishy. Has anyone heard of any other schools being rushed to academy status like this?

prh47bridge Tue 22-Jan-13 22:30:50

No, you are not working for a business. You are working for a charity.

choccyp1g Tue 22-Jan-13 23:57:12

So does this Harris chap get paid for running the charity?
Is it payment by results, or by number of schools in the chain?
Or is he an unpaid volunteer like the governors of the school?
And can he "sack" them anyway once his chain takes over?

I suppose I am addressing these questions to prh47bridge. thanks

noseynoonoo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:06:51

How are the governors defending their position to stay schtum? If I was a parent governor who found this out and was threatened with the sack (from an unpaid role?), I'd be standing at the gate the next day handing out all the details to parents. It's not like they've signed the Official Secrets Act so how are they explaining their (tacit) duplicity in keeping it quiet?

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 23-Jan-13 11:17:16

I've been wondering about that, noseynoonoo.

I get that they've been bullied into silence but surely someone, just one person, has the courage to stand up to a bully?

Tbh, this in itself would completely undermine any faith I had previously had in the governing body.

What on earth could the DfE's reasons be for insisting that their bullying was kept secret (in contradiction of the Academies Act and Education Act which require a consultation with stakeholders), other than to prevent a campaign, union action and media interest until it was too late?

prh, but none of the teachers that bexa knows want to work in an academy - that's the point.

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 23-Jan-13 11:21:04

bexa, this is the tip of the iceberg.

'The Report' on Radio 4 about a year ago has been the most extensively researched analysis of what's happening on the ground re the academy agenda. They found out that up to 40 civil servants have been employed full time to go round the country bullying governing bodies into accepting academy status, or be sacked if they refuse. They've been targeting urban areas as these are the ones that the academy chains are interested in. Schools are going left, right and centre, often with absolutely no paper chain.

CalmChaos Wed 23-Jan-13 13:08:05

I've been reading up a bit. The governors at a school in North London called Downhills were fired and then replaced by Harris officials on the interim board which was supposed to be consulting on the Haris takeover. Hardly, neutral!? Then the new board voted the takeover through. I suspect the governors at Roke can do or say nothing to allow a similar thing to happen at their school. The fight would then be completely lost. The Harris deal at Roke has not been signed yet. It's not yet a done deal. It is all so stinky and very possibly corrupt.

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 13:23:26

No, Harris does not get paid. The reverse, in fact. He gives money to the charity (Harris Federation). He also gives money to other schools in south London that are not academies. In general the trustees of charities cannot be paid.

When an academy sponsor takes over the composition of the board of governors will change. However, the sponsors cannot simply fire all the governors. There will still be parent governors and staff governors. Both will continue to be appointed in the same way.

And regarding Downhills, my understanding is that one of the members of the IEB was from Harris. When an IEB is imposed at a school in special measures they are usually tasked with converting it to an academy. That was the case under the previous government and remains the case under the current government.

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 14:04:45

yellowsubmarine53 - I did not dispute Bexa's contention that none of the teachers she knows wants to work for an academy. Given the relentless anti-academy campaigns by teaching unions I find that unsurprising, although there do seem to be a substantial and growing number of teachers who are happy to work in academies. I was merely making the point that teachers at academies are not working for a business.

I am neither for nor against academies. I am happy to answer questions and I tend to correct obvious inaccuracies, regardlss of whether they are posted by supporters or opponents of academies.

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 14:15:44

p---bridge, why are you taking questions and correcting inaccuracies? Do you work for the Government or Harris, perhaps?

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 14:39:39

No, I do not work for the government or Harris. My only direct involvement in education is helping parents win admission appeals. Through that I know rather more than most about how the current education system operates and how it is changing. I am therefore happy to answer questions where I can.

As for correcting inaccuracies, that's just me. If I see statements being made on any subject where I know for certain that what is being said is incorrect I tend to post a correction. I have previously corrected assertions made about teachers' pensions, libel laws, employment law and a variety of other subjects.

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 16:56:21

So it is interesting that you have not corrected the rest of the claims made on this thread. There must be some truth in it then. I for one wish it was all made up as the truth is scary.

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:01:31

Quite, sleepy. It would be better for everyone if this government's plans for education were some ghastly nightmare one could wake up from, but unfortunately not.

And talking of correcting errors prh, two of the Downhills IEB were from Harris - Dan Moynihan (CEO of Harris) and Robin Bosher (Head of primary at Harris). They were both Knighted shortly afterwards.

The IEB was tasked with consulting and making recommendations to the Sec of State regarding the future of the school (the legal case was very clear about that), not with automatically converting it imto an academy.

choccyp1g Wed 23-Jan-13 21:11:15

Hi prh47bridge, I just responded to your comments about Harris on the other thread. It sounds as though Harris himself may not be quite the money-grubbing privateer on a personal level that I thought.

However, 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.

sleepylampost Wed 23-Jan-13 22:00:46

Education is a great leveller. The free market always has winners and losers. The two are not compatible. In a free market, kids with special needs or behaviour problems- will be thrown in the dustbin. So much for Warnock fighting for educational equality for children with SEN in mainstream settings, we are going to be right back where we started. Segregated schools for kids who need a bit of extra help cos they are a blot on academy performance tables. We will be going back to the dark ages.

bexa Wed 23-Jan-13 22:41:29

What do the teachers at roke think about all this? Are there any teachers in here? Anyone work for an academy? I've heard the teachers don't want to work for academies cos the conditions are so much worse. A mate of mine said she actively avoids working for an academy.

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 23:47:51

sleepylampost - I only correct claims I know to be wrong. I do not get involved in claims where I don't know and cannot find the facts. And sometimes I can't be bothered rebutting every single claim! But yes, some of the claims on which I have not commented may well be true.

yellowsubmarine52 - Happy to accept what you say regarding Downhills. I wasn't able to find a full list of IEB members and the information I found said only one was from Harris. Whilst you are correct about the task officially given to the IEB, it is the case that pretty much every IEB for years under both this government and the last has come out in favour of conversion. That is because since 2005 the relevant guidance has stated there is a "clear expectation" that conversion to academy status with a "strong sponsor" will be the normal outcome for such schools. So an IEB really only has two likely outcomes - closure of the school or conversion to an academy, with the latter being by far the most likely outcome. To express an opinion, I do not think it right that 2 members of a 5 member IEB for Downhills were from Harris Federation.

choccyp1g - You may be surprised to know how few services are provided to schools by LAs, especially when we exclude the services they still provide free of charge to academies. It is possible for LAs to sell their services to academies. Indeed, many are already doing so. And "cost plus profit" does not necessarily mean more expensive. To use a non-education example, when the National Lottery was set up there were two bidders - Virgin where Richard Branson said they would not make a profit and therefore would run the lottery at cost, and Camelot who were clear they would make a profit. Camelot won the right to operate the lottery because the amount they wanted per ticket to make a profit was less than Virgin wanted to charge when running at cost. The point where we agree is that I would be very unhappy if the result of these changes is poorer outcomes for pupils.

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 23:50:27

sleepylampost - I should add that I have occasionally rebutted claims made by pro-Academy posters on other threads where I have known that things they posted were untrue.

Jumblemum Thu 24-Jan-13 11:46:26

Bexa, staff at Roke have been advised by senior management not to get involved in any campaign as The Harris Federation may be a future employer (bit creepy, no?) I do know that Roke was probably the only school in the country delighted to get an Ofsted inspection a couple of weeks ago - one of the teaching staff said to me 'Bring it On' - that is an interim report and can't lift us out of Notice to Improve sadly. My impression from chatting with some of the staff is that the majority are pleased that the parents are mounting a campaign, but I also know that at least one staff member is quite keen on Harris and would like them to take over.

As for the board of governors, Yellowsubmarine, my impression is that they hoped by going along with academisation, they might have some choice in sponsor and they wanted Riddlesdown Collegiate, who were helping the school anyway post Notice to. At the parents meeting, it is clear to me that a lot of parents chose Roke so that their kids would ultimately go to Riddlesdown so they would clearly be a more popular sponsor. So they were guilty of being overly optimistic and naive, but I think they didn't realise how intransigent DofE would be.

Sorry, I know I keep moaning about the DofE, but it's just I don't tolerate bullying in real life and I hate that a GOVERNMENT department, of schools, is doing that. I would like to think that they are doing it out of a conviction that they are improving failing schools but I fear it is more of a conviction that they want to decrease spending and academies will ultimately make it easier to do that.....

prh47bridge Thu 24-Jan-13 15:22:48

Academies certainly don't decrease spending. Overall they make no difference currently and I can't see that having lots of academies will make it easier in future. If anything I think it will make it harder - more people to object and campaign.

Since Riddlesdown is an academy itself it is eligible to sponsor Roke. No idea why DfE is forcing Roke to go with Harris. Possibly a legal challenge based on choice of sponsor would have more chance of success than one attempting to prevent conversion but I am only guessing based on limited information. The DfE may be able to justify their choice based on previous track record, although that approach would make it hard for new sponsors to appear.

sleepylampost Thu 24-Jan-13 20:15:19

I think you'll find the reason the DfE is forcing Roke to go with Harris has a lot to do with the fact that Lord Harris is a major Tory donor and one of Dave's personal buddies. He was his mentor. He personally sponsored David Cameron in his quest to become prime minister during the hug-a-hoodie years and snog a husky years. It is pay back time.

yellowsubmarine53 Thu 24-Jan-13 20:22:12

Indeed, sleepylampost. Harris already have secondary schools in Croydon and, given that they plan to extend their portfolio of primaries from 19 to 30 this year, Roke is a nice little number for them. In a borough where they're already established, doesn't need major input as it's doing perfectly well as a school.

Harris is the sponsor because Lord Harris wants to extend his portfolio, not because anyone from the DfE actually believes that it's a better option for the school - it's clearly not, given the effective joint working with Ribblesdown.

sleepylampost Thu 24-Jan-13 20:44:27

Here are two articles I have stumbled across...both are shocking in their own ways but the first is especially shocking. Academy chains like Harris are going to set back the disability movement by 30 years. All this under a prime minister who had a disabled father and a disabled son, and quite frankly should know better.

...and just in case you believe that the Tories don't intend to make academies run for profit in future.....

I fully expect someone on this thread to refute some more facts, but maybe not as it is in the Telegraph after all.

prh47bridge Thu 24-Jan-13 21:01:06

Do I have to explain again that Harris is a major philanthropist in education, primarily in South London, and gets no financial benefit from the Harris Academies? He may, of course, get a kick out of the fact that many schools and colleges bear his name, not just the Harris Federation academies. For example, the former Manchester College in the University of Oxford is now the Harris Manchester College following gifts from Lord Harris and his family.

It may be that the DfE forcing Roke to go with Harris is to do with his position as a Tory donor but that doesn't explain why the DCSF forced schools to go with Harris under the last government. Having done a little bit of research I believe the official line is that Harris has extensive experience of turning round under-performing schools with 9 of its schools now judged outstanding. Riddlesdown, of course, has no such experience.

As I say, I think a legal challenge based on the choice of sponsor is more likely to succeed than one attempting to prevent conversion. It would at least force the DfE to justify their choice.

sleepylampost Thu 24-Jan-13 22:18:27

Interesting about Gladstone Park, would you say this is a similar pattern to Roke yellowsub? A blip in performance? Any more schools in this position? Do you think we will soon have a wave of schools in this position, being picked off left, right and centre?

prh47 if you are ever out of work I am sure Harris would employ you in their PR department. You are good at telling us the official line but we are trying to explore the unofficial line here. Can you help us?

yellowsubmarine53 Thu 24-Jan-13 22:49:37

But Roke isn't an 'under performing school'. It had a blip in performance in 2011 and with the since judged excellent partnership working with Ribblesdown obtained L4 and L5 results above the national average - 98% of the children made expected progress in English for example.

To be honest, prh, your 'official line' sounds like your personal justification for this particular abuse of power as the DfE haven't come out with an 'official line' to explain specifically why Ribblesdown wasn't considered as a sponsor and Harris were.

Yes, the previous government were also in bed with Harris, although the specific reasons that Roke is being handed over now is that Harris want to increase their porfolio of schools and this is an easy number for them.

sleepy - I don't think Gladstone Park has had a blip in performance - it's still exceeding national expectations and averages in attainment and progress. The middle school isn't as strong as KS1 and Y6 but nothing that needs such drastic measures as forced academy status.

sleepylampost Thu 24-Jan-13 22:59:04

yellowsub, that's really interesting, are these two schools just anomalies where Gove appears to broken his own guidance that schools should be underperforming for a long period of time? Or do you think their are lots more schools in the same boat, where the parents have not bothered to campaign against the decision?

( The exact words on the DfE website are:
'When schools have been underperforming for a long time, decisive action is needed to raise standards and ensure that the children in these schools are able to achieve their full potential'.)

Jumblemum Thu 24-Jan-13 23:00:41

I emailed the DofE to ask for clarification on how they chose the sponsor and they said 'we liaised with them [Riddlesdown Collegiate] to assess their experience and capacity to a school in need of rapid improvement. We concluded they would not be able to do that at the moment' then a sentence on how Harris have turned round a number of struggling schools in south London, nine of which are now outstanding., which I think are probably mostly secondaries. They don't have a huge track record in primaries as yet.

I will be emailing back for an actual reason soon. Also taking exception to the school in need of rapid improvement statement, which I hope will be backed by the Ofsted interim report.

yellowsubmarine53 Thu 24-Jan-13 23:07:12

Harris indeed don't have a track record in primaries. Before Sept 2012, they only had one - Peckham Park - which was taken over because the Head/governors wanted it to be, rather than because it was under performing.

It seems to have had a quite a 'blip' in performance since conversion - it's L4 E & M has gone from 90% in 2011 to 64% in 2012, with maths looking particularly ropey. Wonder what they DfE will force that school to convert to!?!

I'd be very interested in the process by which the DfE assessed Riddlesdown and found them lacking in experience and capacity to improve a school, given that Croydon LA gave them top marks for doing just that in Dec '12.

admission Thu 24-Jan-13 23:15:24

A school can get perfectly reasonable results in terms of level 4 % but if in year 2 they were already level 3 then the rate of progress between year 2 and year 6 is not what is considered appropriate. That is what Ofsted is focusing on in inspections, it is not the level of attainment but the rate of progress of the pupils. At Gladstone Park in 3 of the 7 year groups the rate of progress was inadequate.

Both Roke and Gladstone Park, if you read the inspection reports then I for one can easily see why the schools were put into a category. The SLT and staff of the school can moan all they want but the bottom line is that the pupils in the schools have not been getting an appropriate education, they are being failed.

Whether the schools need to become academies is a very different argument from whether the school is providing a good education for its pupils and I would not argue against the view that far too many schools are being forced down a political initiative that is not necessary.

sleepylampost Thu 24-Jan-13 23:55:02

yellowsub I would like to see Perkham Park forced back under local authority control ;) The irony!

sleepylampost Thu 24-Jan-13 23:59:55

Or should that read 'Blip'ham Park?

admission go on the Roke Campaign website and see what the parents are saying about the school. There are several parents quoted in their press releases saying it is not a failing school. Parents usually know when a school is failing. Given all the concerns about Ofsted not being impartial and the moving of goalposts- simply reading the Ofsted report and saying a school is failing, is over simplistic.

prh47bridge Fri 25-Jan-13 01:13:03

yellowsubmarine53 - Take a look at [] and note what a DfE spokesman said to the local paper. Note that I also stated that the choice of Harris as sponsor may be something that could be challenged legally.

I look forward to your apology.

sleepylampost - I would strongly disagree that parents know when a school is failing. Time after time schools go into special measures despite the parents thinking the school is wonderful.

I have already said that I expect the Tories to allow (not make) academies to run for profit in future although it is not yet official party policy, so your veiled attack was completely uncalled for.

I think your assertion that academies will set back the disability movement by 30 years is over the top but I am appalled by the actions of Harris Academy Crystal Palace in the case to which you link. Unfortunately I have seen similar cases made at appeal by community schools attempting to keep out disabled children and my oldest daughter suffered from discrimination at a community school due her asthma, so this is not confined to academies by any means.

No, I can't help you on the "unofficial line". It may be that the DfE spokesman is giving us the real reasons even though you choose not to believe them. It may equally be that the DfE spokesman is covering up the real reasons. I have no idea.

As for Gove "breaking his own guidance", since 2005 the guidance has been that conversion to sponsored academy is the preferred route for dealing with any school in special measures, although of course that did not apply to primary schools under the last government.

Kindly stop treating me as a spokesman for Harris. Note that I have said I do not think it was right that 2 out of 5 members of the IEB were from Harris and suggested that it may be possible to challenge the choice of sponsor. I am not your enemy.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 25-Jan-13 07:41:04

What on earth do I have to apologise to you about prh - there's absolutely no information in that article (or any other I have read) that explains that Ribblesdown had seriously been considered as a sponsor. It's just the usual DfE/Harris love in stuff.

prh47bridge Fri 25-Jan-13 10:25:51

I said the official line is that Harris has extensive experience of turning round under-performing schools with 9 of its schools now judged outstanding. You accused me of making that up, describing it as my "personal justification" and alleging that the DfE have not come up with an official line.

If experience in turning round failing schools was the DfE's main requirement when selecting a sponsor it is not surprising Harris was chosen over Riddlesdown. They have only been an academy for a few months and have not been a sponsor for any other schools. They therefore clearly have no experience of sponsoring a failing school and turning it round.

Riddlesdown themselves say whilst they were, "prepared to take on the responsibility to sponsor Roke, it was clear that as a newly converted and single academy ourselves, it was highly unlikely that we would be asked to do so, despite our strong working relationship with the school." (letter to parents dated January 13th which is available on Riddlesdown's website).

I have no idea whether or not that is the real justification for the selection of Harris in preference to Riddlesdown. However, I agree with Riddlesdown that it is highly unlikely that a newly converted academy with no experience of acting as a sponsor would be selected as the sponsor for a failing school.

It may be that this is the DfE's justification for a decision that was actually taken for other reasons as you suggest. I have no idea.

sleepylampost Fri 25-Jan-13 14:04:09

prh You are missing the point. How many times do you need telling that Roke is not a failing school and that they have already turned things around. Parents are confident the recent Ofsted monitoring visit will show this.

Despite this, they are being forced into academy status. Harris as their sponsor have just bagged a successful school which had a minor blip. Riddlesdown already have a track record they worked with Roke and got them back on track in a few months.

Roke is not a school that needs such a heavy handed, dictatorial approach.

I am glad you reassure me that you are not my enemy as I was starting to get concerned because people tell me about posters who get paid to tow the party line on forums like this.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 25-Jan-13 16:39:18

prh, of course Ribblesdown doesn't have experience of turning round secondary schools - it's a school not an academy chain. It DOES have experience of very effectively supporting Roke, in an outstanding way according to the local authority. Unfortunately, we have no idea what Ofsted's view of this joint working is, as they didn't appear to do the promised monitoring visit until 24 hours after parents launched a campaign.

The DfE trot this line abour Harris out over and over again - it's a bit meaninglessness when you look at what's happened to Peckham Park since they took over.

admission Fri 25-Jan-13 17:06:08

sorry sleepylampost you are missing the point, officially according to Ofsted it is a failing school and they are the only arbitrator, whether anybody likes it or not.

Parents are absolutely the worst for knowing whether a school is failing or not, they tend to be well behind the timeline before it dawns on them that there children are getting a substandard education. It is not that they are getting to expected 4C level, it is that they should, based on their baseline assessment, have been a 5A.

prh47bridge Fri 25-Jan-13 19:16:00

I wish someone would pay me to post on here! It might stop my wife complaining about the time I spend on Mumsnet! smile

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 25-Jan-13 20:33:15

admission, Ofsted haven't said that Roke is a 'failing school'. The judgement in May 2012 was that it required improvement. It has improved according to assessment by the LA. Ofsted wasn't given a chance to evaluate its performance, as it was handed over before they had a chance to make a monitoring visit.

For those posters saying that parents are the worst for knowing whether a school is failing or not, here's Michael Wilshaw's (Head of Ofsted, ex-Head of Mossbourne) views on the matter...

“People know whether a school is improving or not. It might have gone through difficult times, it might still be in a category, it might still be in special measures, but parents will know if a school is improving. Better leadership, better governance – parents are the first to know about this. So they are an excellent sounding board for what a school is like.” *(PTA-UK magazine)

prh47bridge Fri 25-Jan-13 22:02:51

yellowsubmarine53 - That is simply wrong.

Ofsted rated Roke as inadequate. The report says that it requires "significant improvement" and the school was given notice to improve. Ofsted also said that significant improvement is required in the leadership and management of the school. Given that the report goes on to state that the school has "insufficient capacity for sustained improvement" it was in serious danger of being placed in special measures. If its SATs results had been worse it probably would have gone into special measures.

Ofsted do not themselves use the term "failing school" but any school rated inadequate is regarded as failing (or, to use the DfE's preferred term, a "school causing concern") and is likely to be placed in special measures unless it improves. Under current rules Roke is not yet due for reinspection.

I hear what Michael Wilshaw said (although I would like to see the original interview rather than a single quote so that I can understand the context) but I do not agree, nor do the reports by his own inspectors. Time and again a school goes into special measures with parents thinking it is wonderful.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 25-Jan-13 22:13:16

No, it isn't wrong, quite simply.

Ofsted put Roke on a Notice to Improve. They have done just this in partnership with Ribblesdown.

It's the unless it improves issue that you mention that it the point - the school have been given warning that it needs to improve and there is a period allocated for it to do that. Ofsted were due to visit for a monitoring visit within 2 terms ie before Christmas (the school had been informed of this). This didn't happen until after Christmas, 24 hours after parents at Roke launched a campaign.

Under the current framework, schools have between 12-18 months to show significant improvement before a next judgement is made. Why weren't Roke given that chance? With an outstanding secondary school at hand to support them and very good SATS results in 2012, they are hardly on their uppers.

In the meantime, the school had been handed over to Harris in what appears to be a most untransparent process.

What reason, do you think, that the DfE had to threaten the governors with the sack if they informed teachers or parents of their intention to give the school to Harris? Why did they disregard the consultation detailed in the Education Act 2012, do you think?

admission Fri 25-Jan-13 22:24:44

I think that is the bottom line here. If a school is in special measures, notice to improve or requiring improvement under Ofsted, then the old "rules" do not apply under Gove's crusade. Any school entering those categories is likely to find itself under intense pressure or just told to convert to an academy. As with everything the goal posts have been moved.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 25-Jan-13 22:37:24

Exactly. And given that there is no evidence that academy status improves schools, the only conclusion is that it is an entirely ideological agenda.

prh47bridge Sat 26-Jan-13 01:33:39

You still don't seem to get it. You misrepresented Ofsted's report. According to you Ofsted simply said the school "required improvement". Ofsted actually said that Roke is inadequate, the lowest classification available, that it needs substantial improvement and it is unable to improve itself. It is now too late to appeal against Ofsted's judgement so Roke is classed as a failing school. Notwithstanding any improvements it will officially remain a failing school under notice to improve until it is inspected again. The monitoring visit to which you refer cannot move the school out of the inadequate category or remove the notice to improve.

A school like Roke that is judged as inadequate and where Ofsted believe it has insufficient capacity for sustained improvement is unlikely to be given the opportunity to turn itself around without external intervention of some sort being imposed by the LA and/or the DfE, regardless of whether or not the school wants the intervention. The presumption in favour of conversion to academy status kicks in immediately a school is placed in a category of concern, in part because politicians of all parties believe there is plenty of evidence that academy status improves failing schools. Anti academy campaigners dispute that interpretation of the evidence. I am not in a position to say who is right.

I don't know anything about the threats you allege were made by the DfE so cannot comment. I know the governors were told they would be replaced if they did not co-operate with conversion to a Harris academy. If the Secretary of State issues an academy order the governors must co-operate or be replaced with an IEB. I don't think an academy order has been made for Roke as yet but clearly one will be made if the governors will not co-operate. It has always been the case that governors at schools eligible for intervention must co-operate with any intervention from the LA or DfE or risk being replaced by an IEB, especially where Ofsted has concluded that the governors are not doing a good job as is the case here.

The consultation requirements of the Education Act 2011 are pretty light. In the case of a school eligible for intervention, which Roke clearly is, the consultation can be carried out by the governors or the proposed sponsor or an educational institution that replaces the school. The consultation must seek the views of whoever the person conducting the consultation thinks appropriate and there is no requirement for anyone to take any notice of the outcome of the consultation. The courts would prevent the consultation being too unreasonable - a consultation which consisted of asking one person who lives 500 miles away would certainly be thrown out. But it does mean the consultation may be a sham with the outcome being ignored.

yellowsubmarine53 Sat 26-Jan-13 02:17:22

I get it perfectly well, thank you, prh. I simply interpret the available information differently to you and draw different conclusions.

Roke DID have external intervention from the LA. It isn't accurate to label anyone who is sceptical about academy conversion as an 'anti academy campaigner'. Professor Machin who headed the LSE research which indicated that some of the sponsored academies set up under the last government were successful in raising standards (and whose research is trotted out repeatedly by the current DfE to justify their academy agenda) has explicitly said that this cannot be extrapolated to converter academies.

You're also no doubt familiar with the recent cautions issued by the Academy Commission.

The most high profile consultation in the forced academy agenda was at Downhills primary, in which the outcomes was ignored (£45,000 of public money, 94% of stakeholders against the forced conversion, IEB undecided). Yes it was a sham, but at least it was done. I can only conclude that the reason that the governors didn't conduct even the most cursory consultation at Roke was so that stake holders ie parents, teachers and the local community wouldn't be able to take action until the deal was done.

And I can only interpret this as bullying, as surely anything to do with good-to-honest school improvement would be done in an transparent fashion.

prh47bridge Sat 26-Jan-13 11:55:01

The only conclusion I have drawn from the Ofsted report is that Roke is inadequate and its current management and governors are judged incapable of delivering the required improvement. That is Ofsted's conclusion and they are the final arbiter in the current system. You may disagree with their judgement but legally their judgement is final (barring appeals).

Having external intervention from the LA does not prevent the DfE from intervening.

Professor Machin said that the results cannot be extrapolated to the successful schools now being converted to academy status (converter academies) as these are different to the academies set up under the last government, which were converted from or replaced failing schools. The study found that conversion to academy status did bring about improvements in failing schools that became sponsored academies under the last government with the biggest improvement being in community schools that converted. If you want to say this study does not apply to Roke the angle to take is that it does not apply to primary schools, which I think is a bit weak, or that the study got it wrong, which I think is a stronger argument.

I am aware of the work of the Academies Commission. I'm not sure how that is relevant to Roke.

There must be a consultation for Roke at some point prior to conversion but I agree it will probably be a sham. I am not happy about that. The reason the consultation requirements are so weak is that, under the previous government, campaigners were able to use consultations to prevent some failing schools from converting and that the evidence available shows that such schools did not improve as successfully as those that did convert. For clarity, I am not saying that I personally agree that this should have led to consultation becoming a sham. I am not sure what I would have done if I were in charge of education but it certainly wouldn't have been the current "consultation" system.

Given Ofsted's judgement on the governors and management of the school it was always likely that they would be taken out of the equation by interventions with the DfE stepping in if the LA left the governors and management in place. I wouldn't necessarily regard that as bullying. If the school's management and governors have got the school into the situation and are judged incapable of delivering the required improvement we either wait around to see if they can improve, and risk delivering a poor education to more children in the process, or we accept Ofsted's judgement and get on with replacing them with people who can deliver improvement.

I have tried to avoid expressing an opinion (although you clearly think otherwise) but I will express one now. Whilst I can see the DfE's case, I sympathise with the school's desire to have Riddlesdown (which you've called Ribblesdown a few times!) as their sponsor. If it was working and producing the required improvement it is a shame that they are being pushed out in favour of Harris, however understandable that is from the DfE's viewpoint.

yellowsubmarine53 Sat 26-Jan-13 14:18:21

Given that Ofsted are the final arbiter in the current system, it's hard to understand why the promised monitoring visit in 2012 didn't occur despite the school requesting it, and why they turned up 24 hours after parents launched a campaign.

Given that Ofsted gave the notice to improve, it seems extraordinary that it wasn't allowed to evaluate whether the school had improved before the Dfe moved in. Looking at the school data for 2012, which one would hope that the DfE did, but wouldn't be surprised if it hadn't, it's clearly not a school on its uppers in need of dramatic intervention. The 'inadequate' judgement was made prior to the 2012 national tests, which show considerable improvement from the year before. I don't particularly agree with the DfE using historical performance data to decide a school's future - the performance and leadership within the school improved a lot in 2012 according to Croydon LA, and Ofsted weren't given an opportunity to evaluate this.

Prof Machin said, "We do not yet have robust, academically rigorous evidence on the coalition academies. For one thing, it is very early days, and as research on US charter schools also shows, time needs to pass before it is possible to evaluate their impact in a meaningful way." That is, that there is no empirical justification for the scale and speed of the academy agenda under the coalition.

Regardless of what you think about the statutory need for 'consultation' there is indeed one, which the Roke governors have chosen to ignore.

Other than than Harris wants the school, I don't see how understandable the DfE's intention to hand the school over to Harris is. There are 100s of schools around the country in special measures in far worse states that this one. We have a secondary school near us that has been in special measures for YEARS. Why doesn't the DfE intervene there, rather than at a school which is already improving?

sleepylampost Sat 26-Jan-13 14:54:24

It seems that the recent Ofsted verdict on whether progress has been made is satisfactory and this is the highest rating the school could obtain given the timeframe.

sleepylampost Sat 26-Jan-13 14:58:06

prh I don't see what you get from spending such a huge amount of time on Mumsnet correcting people and generally hampering people who want to look beyond the official position on forced academies. You are just backing up the Government line all the time. The Government line will happen anyway without you bringing it up all the time. What do you get from going on about it? We need time and space to explore other lines of thought.

admission Sat 26-Jan-13 19:13:29

What is quite interesting is that there is no public report on the progress at Roke. It is not currently on the Ofsted website, so presumably what is being passed around is the letter that the HMI wrote and asked the school to comment on for accuracy. That shows a remarkable lack of confidentiality by the school as the report is not official till it is published and can be changed at any time up until the report is published.
There is also a clear misunderstanding about what the report might be saying. It is not saying the school is now satisfactory (which of course no longer exists under the Ofsted framework for school levels) it is saying that satisfactory progress is being made towards the school not being in a category. It does not mean it is anywhere close to coming out of the category, only that progress is being made. Given that there was not sufficient facts and figures to indicate that progress was good, the school is still a long long way away from getting a good rating under a full Ofsted inspection.

yellowsubmarine53 Sat 26-Jan-13 20:12:02

The report that sleepy is referring to is the monitoring visit undertaken by Croydon LA in Dec '12.

There hasn't been any information released about the Ofsted monitoring visit that happened 24 hours after the Roke story hit the national headlines as far as I know.

admission Sat 26-Jan-13 20:46:09

Not if look at the webpage that sleepy puts up. That specifically refers to last weeks ofsted inspection having been satisfactory.

sleepylampost Sat 26-Jan-13 21:15:37

The information was only put up by parents on their campaign website today. It's a weekend. Ofsted obviously not efficient enough to get it up on their site before they sent it to the school and parents.

There was no monitoring visit in December 2012, as far as I can discern. Only the one mentioned on the website which took place last week.

The classification of the school cannot change without a full inspection, so it is still in Notice to Improve but the school's improvements are satisfactory. To get good or Outstanding they would have needed more time to show that the changes have been embedded. So they got the best rating they could in the circumstances.

prh47bridge Sat 26-Jan-13 22:45:24

yellowsubmarine - As I have already pointed out the consultation does not have to be conducted by the governors. It could be conducted by Harris as the proposed sponsor. I'm sure it will be meaningless.

Can you identify the school that you say has been in special measures for years? PM me if you don't want to state it publicly. That shouldn't happen. I'm not sure it helps you but it is worth taking a look.

I don't know why Roke rather than other schools. I know that some LAs are being targeted on the grounds that they have historically had particularly high concentrations of schools that have remained below floor standard for years. I know the identities of some but not all of these LAs so I don't know if yours is one of them.

sleepylampost - I am not "backing the government line" nor am I in any way denying you time and space. I have made a few comments that are very definitely not "backing the government line". As I have said before I am not keen on debates about a subject where one or both sides fling around "facts" that are untrue - one of the reasons I won't get actively involved in politics. It is true that I have only corrected anti-conversion campaigners on this thread but I don't see anyone here posting in favour of conversion, let alone including untrue "facts". On other threads I have corrected statements made by pro-academy posters. And on some threads I have given anti conversion campaigners advice on how they might succeed. Unfortunately I think your campaign is unlikely to succeed in the current climate.

As Admission indicates, the report on the Save Roke website doesn't seem to fully understand the role of the monitoring inspection. "Satisfactory" progress does not mean the school has turned around rapidly and is making substantial improvements. That would have constituted "good" progress at least. By the way, the progress grades in a Section 8 report are not as shown on the Save Roke website. Ofsted uses terms such as "unsatisfactory", "reasonable", "satisfactory". The fact that progress is rated "satisfactory" helps the campaign a little but in the current climate it is probably not good enough. I suspect the DfE's view would be that if the link with Riddlesdown was working progress would have been more than satisfactory.

For what it is worth I am not comfortable with forced academy conversions although I recognise that sometimes drastic steps are required to deal with a failing school. I understand your anger at what is happening. The power in this situation lies with the DfE. The only way you will prevent conversion other than a legal challenge (which is unlikely to succeed) is to persuade the DfE to change their minds. Flinging around accusations about their motives is not going to achieve that.

sleepylampost Sat 26-Jan-13 23:46:43

Evaluating the school’s progress
12.Inspectors are required to evaluate the school’s progress in dealing with the areas for improvement identified by the last section 5 inspection, and in improving outcomes for pupils. Judgements are made on the four-point scale: 1 is outstanding; 2 is good; 3 is satisfactory; 4 is inadequate.

prh47bridge Sat 26-Jan-13 23:56:55

Sorry - I hold my hands up to that one. I was thinking of a Special Measures Section 8 inspection rather than a Notice to Improve. However, I still think that Roke needed a better rating from the Section 8 inspection to help your campaign.

sleepylampost Sun 27-Jan-13 00:07:41

It says on the site, a better rating was not possible given the time between inspections. A longer time would be needed to show the changes were sustained and to acheive a rating of good or outstanding.

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 27-Jan-13 09:52:45

It's this school, prh.

As you can see, it's been in an Ofsted category, most usually special measures since 2007.

It's in Haringey which is one of the areas that the DfE have targeted for forced academy conversion, though they are focusing on primary schools.

It's hard for local residents to understand why a primary school which was put on a notice to improve for the first time end of 2011 was handed over to AET before the inspection was even published (Nightingale School N22), and the JL school has been left to provide an inadequate standard of education for years, given that it's all meant to be about school improvement.

prh47bridge Sun 27-Jan-13 14:30:43

sleepylampost - I want to see the report rather than the minute extract on the Save Roke website before commenting directly on it. There is certainly nothing in Ofsted's guidance on Notice to Improve inspections that says a rating better than satisfactory is not possible in this timescale and I'm pretty sure I have seen some schools achieve that. The website seems to have drawn the conclusion that "satisfactory" was the best rating available from a comment that "it is too early to measure the impact of some new initiatives". To play devil's advocate for a moment (so I'm not saying this is what I believe or that it is correct) another way of interpreting that would be to say they might have achieved "good" or better if the new initiatives had been started earlier and were now producing measurable results.

yellowsubmarine53 - I am appalled. A school should not be allowed to continue like this for this length of time. Bluntly it should have been closed or converted by now. I don't know if the particular faith with which the school is associated has led to nervousness about possible accusations of discrimination but, whatever the reason, it is not good enough. The governors, leadership team, Haringey, DCSF, DfE, this government and the previous government have all failed this school. I see that it now faces closure this summer or, if the church has its way, conversion to a sponsored academy so something is finally being done but it is far too late. I hope that the disagreement about what action should be taken will not delay action any further.

Looking at the various Ofsted reports, it seems an IEB was appointed in 2008 or 2009 after initial unsatisfactory progress after being placed on Notice to Improve in 2007, although there is no longer an IEB in place. The school went into special measures in 2009. I would seriously question the Section 8 inspections in 2010/11 - they all show the school making satisfactory progress towards coming out of special measures but the Section 5 inspection at the end of 2011 showed that little improvement had actually taken place. I wonder if these Section 8 inspections were a factor in the DfE's failure to intervene, although in my view there was enough evidence for DfE to get involved regardless.

Does this help the Save Roke campaign? In terms of a possible legal challenge or getting the DfE to change its mind it is unlikely to be of use. The courts set a very high bar before they will intervene in a decision by the government - assuming no laws have been broken they will only intervene if the decision maker's interpretation of government policy is not one which the words of the policy are reasonably capable of bearing (for a different, and possibly clearer, expression of the standard used look up "Wednesbury unreasonable"). And DfE (unsurprisingly) won't want to discuss other schools. However, an apparently inconsistent approach certainly makes people angry and can help to recruit people to the cause, so it helps in that respect.

admission Sun 27-Jan-13 15:10:00

I share PRB's concerns that this school has been a basket case for much longer than it should have been allowed to be.
The pupils in this school have been let down by everybody directly concerned but also by those that should have been making sure that this school did make major improvements. I question why the LA, Ofsted and the DfE have not taken action years ago.
This is a good example of the kind of school that Gove should have been targeting as a priority to shut / academise or shut.

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 27-Jan-13 17:50:34

prh, yes I think that the particular faith which the school has associated has made the situation more delicate than it might have been, but still as you say no reason for so many years with no intervention. There is currently a LA run consultation about closing the school so we shall see.

admission exactly. This is the kind of school that Gove should have been targetting (in addition to the LA and Ofsted). The fact that the DfE have chosen to pick on schools like Roke and do nothing about this one make it very, very difficult to understand how the academy agenda can be about 'improving standards.'

bexa Tue 29-Jan-13 17:40:25

Anyone see the Guardian piece yesterday with the latest from Roke School. Can't believe governers were threatened with sack! Outrageous. Yet more evidence of dodgy dealings I say. Really needs an investigative journo to dig deep as I bet there is loads more of this sort of corruption going on.

prh47bridge Tue 29-Jan-13 18:03:24

Don't know why you've posted this on multiple threads. If you are referring to this then yes, I saw it. It doesn't tell us anything new.

Note that the words attributed to the DfE are what the chair of the governors told parents the DFE said and not necessarily a verbatim account. It amounts to the DfE telling the governors that if they don't co-operate the DfE will appoint an IEB to replace them. You can describe that as a threat if you want but it is a straightforward statement of the process as it has been for years. If the governors of a school causing concern refuse to co-operate with the LA's plans or, if the DfE get involved, the DfE's plans they are likely to be replaced with an IEB. That applies regardless of whether the plans are academy conversion or something else.

sleepylampost Tue 29-Jan-13 22:11:59

Just because something is legal, it does not mean it is not corrupt.

yellowsubmarine53 Tue 29-Jan-13 22:22:58

That's a correct description of the process prh, but the Roke situation has been somewhat accelerated by the DfE and the 'concern' about the school seems somewhat disproportionate to what's actually happening there (improving, according to Ofsted).

prh47bridge Tue 29-Jan-13 22:46:50

I agree there are reasons to be concerned about the way DfE seem to be handling the situation. I just don't think this is one of them.

bexa Wed 30-Jan-13 18:11:14

It's totally disproportionate. As far as I'm aware the parents didn't even thing there were any problems at the school. Academy system I can understand for a school that has failed year on year, but Roke is a school that just had a blip. It's nuts to hand it over. OK, Harris might not be making any profit at the moment, but as soon as the rules change and Academies can start to be run for profit, do you really think he will still run it as a charity?

prh47bridge Wed 30-Jan-13 22:37:17

Yes, I do. He has given a lot of money to community schools in south London as well as the money he has pumped in to the Harris Federation. All he will ever get back from the community schools is that some of them now bear his name, as does a college in the University of Oxford to which he gave money. I may be wrong but Lord Harris appears to be a philanthropist with a particular interest in education.

bexa Thu 31-Jan-13 09:19:21

Maybe but in my view true philanthropy does not ask for the credit of having their name above the door. That to me shows an ego.

prh47bridge Thu 31-Jan-13 09:46:38

I have sympathy with that viewpoint, although a lot of wealthy philanthropists do this. But then most wealthy people I have met do indeed have big egos!

I see the Ofsted report from the recent Section 8 inspection has now been published. To get a negative out of the way first, we can now see that the snippet used by the Save Roke website to suggest that "satisfactory" was the highest possible rating was only part of a sentence. It comes in a section that is talking about a new staffing structure and says, "Because the new structure did not come into effect until September 2012, it is too early to measure the impact of some of the new initiatives." I don't think that supports the conclusion Save Roke attempts to draw.

On a more positive front, the report does show a lot of actions being taken by the school to improve itself. It also suggests that the school and the governors are not being defensive - they have accepted that improvements are required and that they still need to do more.

Clearly a better rating than "satisfactory" would have been useful. However, as I have said previously, the most likely way to win the campaign is to persuade the DfE to change course and the positive comments in this report are certainly helpful in that regard. The fact the DfE say no final decision has yet been made suggests that change may be possible.

bexa Thu 31-Jan-13 18:11:03

"But then most wealthy people I have met do indeed have big egos!"

Exactly! To be as wealthy as Harris you generally have to be a greedy person, happy to trample on others to make your money, and have a big ego. Do we really want people like this running our children's education?? Profit or no profit!

bexa Thu 31-Jan-13 18:15:53

To be honest, the most effective way of winning the save roke campaign is to court the media! Get the story back in the news. This is the only way to get the DfE to take notice. Get the school taking part in direct action. Give the papers and news crews something to film and write about. It's no good just saying 'parents are unhappy', that story has been run. I suggest a sit in. Or get the kids their uniform down to Carpet Right and stage a flash mob school lunch there! Sit them down on the rolls of carpet with their lunch boxes. It would be hilarious and really make a big point! What news station is going to ignore 100 kids having a flash mob lunch in Carpet Right!

prh47bridge Thu 31-Jan-13 21:43:46

Personally I'm quite happy with Lord Harris' involvement since, as far as I can see, he leaves the education bit to experts but I know others may not agree.

Getting the story in the news can help but it can also lead to positions becoming entrenched.

bexa Fri 01-Feb-13 16:53:56

I think the issue here may not be whether you believe in Academies per se. Or even whether you agree with Harris running schools. It's perhaps an issue of how bad a school has to be before it is put into academy status. Roke does not sound like a failing school at all. Surely the DfE should be putting their energy where it is genuinely needed. Or at the very least the Academy process should be more open and democratic with a greater period of consultation.

sleepylampost Fri 01-Feb-13 22:20:25

Bexa You have hit the nail on the head.

bexa Sun 03-Feb-13 21:10:28

Anyone know the latest on the Roke school situation? Is the academy takeover still going ahead?

yellowsubmarine53 Mon 04-Feb-13 10:05:10

If the governing body agreed to it before Christmas, as seems to be the case, it's pretty much a done deal, I would say.

Who knows what shady goings on between the DfE, LA, the Harris Federation and the governing body haven been happening behind closed doors over the last few months?

yellowsubmarine53 Tue 05-Feb-13 21:04:58

Have only skim read this blog. Warwick Mansell is a respected education journo.

sleepylampost Sat 09-Feb-13 22:30:38

Now we know we weren't imagining it. Tories are planning to run academies for profit.

This is diabolical.

Dentvincent Tue 12-Feb-13 14:39:14

have just seen this revealing film about forced academisation and Downhills parents campaign -

It is really scary the lengths that the government will go to strong arm local communities into going down a route that no one wants - if this allowed to continue what will the future of our children education and our children's children education going to be like. Scary.

hunterm Sun 17-Mar-13 23:39:14

When Ofsted announced last June that Roke Primary School was given a 'Notice to Improve' there was uproar and parents wanted answers..... and some even blood.
And now nearly a year on when finally someone is going to go in and take the bull by the horns and get Roke back to where it was (like back in the days of the old head) parents are still not happy !!!

The Harris Federation are going to put Roke back where it should be, at the top (where it was) by supporting the staff, leading the staff and mainly by doing what is best for the children !!!!!! Remember those little people that attend each day.

Harris Secondary Schools are over subscribed so they don't need the children from Roke to go there after, they've confirmed Riddlesdown will continue to be the feeder school if that's what the children/parents want.

SAT's results have been falling slowly each year...... what has been done ?
Teachers have been leaving / will leave ... what is being done ?
Children are going elsewhere.... why ?

Don't delay any longer, let Harris take over Roke and put it back to where it was. Think about the affect all this 'Save Roke Campaign' is having on the children and even possibly the staff.
I doubt it can get any worse, but with them it can get a whole lot better....

As for Riddlesdown, they have only just themselves become an academy. They aren't in a position to offer full-time support that is clearly needed.

Roke needs a new leader...... a strong leader and they need it now !

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